Life on the Sidelines

“Running shouldn’t hurt.” With that one statement, my running life changed. I was sitting in my RRCA coaching certification course and our instructor, an exercise physiologist and noted running coach, told us that running isn’t supposed to hurt. In that room sat seasoned ultra-marathoners, Iron Man triathletes and others who have run myriad races and none of us could believe it. She went on to explain that if one trains PROPERLY, one should not feel more than typical muscle discomfort. “Say what, now?” I was always of the opinion that running was supposed to hurt, which is one of the reasons I ignored the nagging pain in my groin for so long. I don’t even know when my pain started or what caused it. I just assumed it was from over-training, but it could have also been due to my over-zealousness in spin class or the weight room. I had been near the end of training for the Richmond Half Marathon when I took the coaching class and I had come to accept “the limp” as part of my life. Confounded by her statement, I pulled her aside to discuss my pain. After she told me how wrong my training had been, we discussed the possible causes and implications of my pain and she strongly suggested that I not run the race and let my INJURY heal. Wait…injury? I never thought of it as an injury. Annoying pain, yes, but an injury…?

Let me be clear, I am hardly a “soldier.” I don’t often “suck it up and move on” when it comes to illness, aches and pains. I will run to urgent care if my nose runs for more than two days. I wasn’t toughing the pain out, I was in serious denial. I kept telling myself that the pain was normal and that it would eventually go away. Well, it didn’t, and after that discussion I could no longer deny it. So the following week, I made an appointment with an orthopedic specialist and prayed for the best. The problem was I couldn’t get an appointment until after the race. What to do? (Incidentally, my instructor knew I wouldn’t listen to her suggestion of cease and desist so we discussed an action plan to get me through the race that was just two weeks away. ) Rather foolishly, I completed the Richmond Half Marathon, limping by mile 7 and hobbling in agony through mile 11. It was the first time I seriously considered a DNF, if only the sweeper truck would have driven by. Adrenaline, a long downhill at the end of the course, and the prospect of pancakes got me to the finish line. It was a truly painful experience and I promised myself that I would do whatever I needed to do to heal properly. That meant I had to stop running cold turkey. And with that, I began my life on the sidelines.

Next up – diagnosis and recovery.

~Cass

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On Relativity

You know that saying, “There is always someone better than you”? It’s so like that in running, too. And it’s true that there is always someone worse than you, too. My relative place in running kept coming up this week.

There was a discussion about increasing group participation, the Olympic Trials, my obsession with data, and an affirmation of why running is so great.

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Running in Nature – Winter Hazards

Previously, I posted some of the fun and exciting things you can encounter while running in the winter.  However, it is not always a barrel of laughs.  The onset of winter means most deciduous trees will have dropped their leaves – usually all over the trail upon which you are trying to run.  In his book The Runner’s Rule Book, Mark Remy says when running in winter: “If it’s shiny, it’s slippery” (146).  I would like to amend that to: “if it’s under you, it’s slippery.”  Please take heed of some common trail hazards, of which you should be even more cautious in the winter months when the addition of ice, snow, and abundant leaves make things even more challenging. Continue reading

An Old Year, a New One, and New Runners

This past week was a busy one. I’m trying to run 30 miles in a week for the next month or so, and this was my first week trying to do it. I’ve found that I like it better to stay around a certain mileage until I adjust, and then jump up another 5 miles and stay there a while. So, this week was my first at the 30 mile level, and I hit it.

It’s a good time to do it. I’m back in the rhythm after the holidays and I know my first half will be here sooner than I think.
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Kate and the Year of the Half Marathon

This year, I’m going to do half marathons.

Well, I’ll do other stuff too, but the focus is the half marathon. It’s a middle distance race that’s just out of my comfort zone. I have no interest in marathons. Too many variables, too much training time. 5Ks and 10Ks are great, but they don’t feel like the Monumental Accomplishment that I like my goals to be. So I settled on the half marathon.

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Woodpeckers make great running partners

Female red-bellied woodpecker; on males the red is continuous from bill to the back of the head

Alright, maybe they don’t.  Woodpeckers are, however, easier to identify on the run than are the juncos in my last post.*   I have been seeing and hearing them frequently as of late, so in the spirit of sharing here are two running-friendly finds:

The red-bellied woodpecker does  have a red belly, but the red on its head is much more visible.  Sadly, “red-headed woodpecker” was already taken (the red-headed woodpecker’s head is all red, whereas the red-bellied woodpecker has more of a red faux-hawk).  The red-bellied woodpecker is a frequent sight and sound on the trails near Lake Artemesia, identifiable by their distinctive rolling  “kwirr” or “churr” call which can be heard here.

male downy woodpecker, females lack the red

The downy woodpecker is small with a black and white checkered pattern that distinguishes it from other woodpeckers. Except for the hairy woodpecker, that is, who looks almost exactly the same, save for a longer bill.  They are likely finds in woods, fields, parks, and lots all over Prince George’s County.  Their call is a high whinny, but you are more likely to hear them drumming on a tree than calling from one this time of year.  More information on the downy and hairy woodpeckers can be found here.

Honorable mentions: the Pileated Woodpecker and the Northern Flicker (who happens to resemble the red-bellied woodpecker).

*I admit the downy and hairy woodpeckers are almost impossible to tell apart while running unless you are an avid birder.  Just call it a “dairy” and make up a story about how their colors are similar to that of a Holstein – no one will be the wiser.  If this fails, fartlek.

2012 Great Lengths Race–New Years Day

When:  January 1, 2012 (New Years Day) at 1:00 p.m

Where: Greenbelt Youth Center (99 Centerway, Greenbelt, MD, 301-397-2200). The Youth Center is easily accessible from Greenbelt Road and Southway (Southway becomes Centerway).

When: The Youth Center will open at 12 noon on New Years Day. Restrooms will be available. Race registration begins at 12:15 p.m. Race day registration only. All participants will be required to sign a waiver. The two races begin at 1 p.m. and the course loops around Buddy Attick Park. There will be one water stop at the bridge and a marshal there as well to make sure the shorter distance runners turn off to the left at the right time.

  • Two distances to choose from: 2012 ells (1.91  miles) or 2012 rods (6.28 miles)
  • Awards: First three finishers in each category, for each race. Categories are: Ages 49 and under, Ages 50 and over (Male and Female).
  • This is the first PGRC race of the year.The race is FREE for everyone!
  • After the race, refreshments will be available
  • Headphones are prohibited.
  • No racing in the case of lightning or thunder.

Runner RSVPs appreciated (but not required). Email vicepres@pgrc.org

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