Walking around my living room this morning, I noticed something unusual.
I wasn’t in pain. Not even a niggle. Just me, walking around in my bare feet like normal people do.
This is unusual, because I am injury prone. And it’s taken me 28 years of running to admit it.
I got to thinking about this a couple of months ago when my buddy Tom Sobal asked me on a Sunday run, “have you always been this injury prone?”
“Me? Injury prone.” I thought to myself. “Pssshaw. I’m not injury prone.”
But I like to consider myself a rational guy, so let’s consider the evidence:
- In 2017, I missed multiple races and hobbled through a few others with Achilles tendinitis in both legs. Plus, I strained my quad in October trying to do a track workout. Had to take off nearly a month for that.
- I had tendinitis that kept me from training hard in 2016, too.
- In 2015, I didn’t really train or race (except for two 5ks).
- In 2014, I had various injuries that kept me from ramping up training for ultras.
- Same for 2013, except for shorter distances.
- In 2011, I injured my left hamstring right after my first 100 and had to take more than two months off. And then a month before Leadville in 2012, I reinjured the same thing and had to take a month off/easy before the race and then limped the last 47 miles of the race when it flared up on me.
- In 2010, I had IT band issues that made me DNS Rocky Raccoon in January 2011.
- Between 1999 and 2009, I didn’t train or race.
- My freshman year of college in 1997 I missed half the year of cross-country with a stress fracture.
- My sophomore year in 1998, I was still dealing with the stress fracture.
So yeah, now that I think about it, I’m totally injury prone. Like, as in maybe running–is-a-really-bad-idea-for-me injury prone.
But I still love to run and I have no intention of quitting any time soon.
So what to do with this information?
Here’s what I’ve been doing over the last couple of months:
- Forget about mileage. Sure, Bill Rodgers and Frank Shorter ran 160 miles a week for dozens of years in a row, and that’s what made them running gods, but I’m not built like them. Accept my limitations.
- One day off every week. I’m teaching myself to ski!
- I’ve gone over to the dark side.
- I’m doing two workouts a week, but this go-around, rather than balls-to-the-wall Vo2 max stuff, I’m focusing on 90% efforts. I’m doing cruise intervals, hills, and tempo work. I’m doing workouts knowing that I have an extra gear in the bag, but leaving that gear for race efforts. First things first: I have to make it to the starting line in one piece.
- No ultras or even marathons (at least for now).
- Core and strength stuff daily. Lunge matrix and leg swings.
- Strides once a week, two longer aerobic efforts (70-120 minutes) and two easy days.
- I’m just being super careful to introduce stress in an incremental way. If my last workout was 6 x 800 at 6-minute pace, then the next workout might be either 5 x 1k at the same pace or 6 x 800 at 5:55 pace.