Saturday, March 30, 2013

Emerging from darkness

It wasn't the potential 6 month layoff that concerned me the most - it was the thought that I might never be able to run again. And that was a very realistic prospect until quite recently. I can't say I had come to terms with it because I hadn't. The thought was devastating, not just for me but for my canine companions. That early morning routine of driving in the darkness and leaving a mountain trailhead in torchlight with 20-30 miles ahead of us would have to be re-calibrated to a short walk. My mind couldn't get there. I like walking but I love running. So does Livvy and Otto and they know the difference in the routine. This last 3 months has been just as hard for them.

In truth I am a horrible patient and don't always act in my own best interest. My achilles injury immobilized me towards the end of December. I could barely walk and the pain was intense. A regime of regular stretching seemed to create an improvement and on a sunny warm day in January I rationalized that a short 4 mile jog with Livvy would be just the ticket. Three miles later and I was hobbling. My recovery hopelessly set back. It wasn't exactly as though I had broken my doctor's orders - I hadn't even been to a doctor to get diagnosed correctly. The "do it myself" mindset that serves me so well most of the time was working against me. There was a difference between reading about injuries and being treated for them. I needed treatment. The reason for my reluctance was not wanting to hear bad news. Classic denialism.

By the end of February I was starting to venture out on short, flat walks on the plains. 5 miles was my max but I would more often do less. The pain grew less and although I could still feel the twinge at least I had confidence that I could walk a reasonable distance and not hurt the next day. Walking did bring one pleasure - I could manage both dogs together and we visited our usual winter haunts - Rabbit Mountain, Boulder Valley Ranch and Eldorado Canyon.

I recently started a program of professional treatment - of which more later - but there is a realistic possibility that I will be doing light running by the end of April. This is a far cry from an earlier prognosis that I would be lucky to ever run again. We'll see. My planned long distance events are shredded this year, but I can live with that if I can get back to serious running. There's always next year!! It's strange, but during this prolonged layoff I couldn't even look at my running gear. My running shoes stacked in the garage haven't been touched. With today's temperature near 70 degrees I did what I couldn't do only a few weeks ago - I went online and checked out the latest mountain shoes in anticipation of the high trails. The transition from winter to spring and summer will come quickly. There is every possibility that I will also be emerging from darkness. It feels good.

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