Rebuilding A Mountain Runner
By Peter Fain
all runners. None of us can escape it. But it is a matter of when you chose to
deal with it and how you deal with it. I rarely dealt with my injuries. I
pushed and pushed. Most often I persevered in races and training but at the
cost of difficult walking and chronic pain. I’m now 40. And turning 40 was like
seeing your own mortality, well it was for me. Suddenly, I no longer felt
Tackling an old
injury is like remodeling an old house. Once you tear into the first wall, you
discover there is a lot more to deal with than you first thought. I had been
running with a torn ACL since 2007 and plantar fasciitis since 2003. Those were
the major problems the Summer of 2011 forced me to face. Surgery followed and down time began; down time
in more ways than one. The diagnosis was not as cut and dry as I had hoped. If
I had dealt with these problems earlier I wouldn’t be where I am now. I have a
long road of rehab ahead of me. That was where I was in November. Now it is
running again March 28th. Not on pavement (who wants to do that anyway) and not
on trails, just on the treadmill at the training center I began to frequent as
soon as Physical therapy was over. But I was running... Finally.
It took a month
before I could run 20 miles in a week. I tested it prematurely at the one month
mark and ran the Knickerbocker trail half marathon in Cool, CA. It was too much
too soon. There was swelling and a soreness. But what was humbling was the lack of stamina. My fitness did not bounce
back as quickly as I had hoped.
I continued to
plug the slow easy miles into my routine, with equal parts bike workouts as I
did run workouts. By the end of May I was able to run 2o miles on flat fire
roads. That was one week before the Ohlone 50km.
It was a bad
idea to try to run “The Ohlone”. It was hot (for me), the downhills are
treacherous and it’s a competitive race to boot. In a nutshell the race started
great. It’s an uphill start so I was comfortable. But as soon as the descents
began my confidence went out the window. Fear of re-injury dictated my pace and
lack of fitness
dictated my ability to compete. With a 5 mile downhill finish,
runners were flying past me as if I were not moving, but I did finish. I
managed to leave my ego out on the course somewhere and humility hung over my
head like a halo. Once again too much too soon. I can hear my physical
therapist, my surgeon, my college track coaches all calling me a dumb ass for
not taking it easy.
Fast forward to
June 22nd, I have an appointment with my
surgeon to check my status. Pressed for time I snuck in a 10 mile run right
before the appointment, arriving a mere 5 minutes early. It has been a month
since the lastappointment where he removed 50ml of fluid from my knee (normal
is 5ml). This time he chose not to
remove the fluid but felt there was near the same as last time. The good news
is that my knee is continuing to improve except for the swelling issue. The
next push is to try some gel injections (That’ll be in the next progress
report) to try to control the swelling.
For the next 3
weeks I’ll continue to push the mileage, to prepare for the Tahoe Rim 50mile
race. And then September is Wasatch.
A lot can still
go wrong. I try to spend time on the bike to give my knee a break, I go to the
gym to work on flexibility and strengthening, and I’m still cautious running
downhill. I’m hoping my confidence returns soon because this pussy footing is
getting annoying. Patience... I’m getting better at it every day.