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Road Warrior Blows Up – ATB 30k Available

My Around the Bay 30k bib is available. If interested, enter a comment below and I will be in touch. Note the 30k can also be exchanged for the 5k race if that suits you better.

I write this piece thinking just how fortunate I have been. Over four years between injuries. But here I am, with nothing better to do than do what is best for my injury: absolutely nothing!

Sucks not to run. It even sucks harder to blow off races you already paid for. So I might as well make the best of it and sell my ATB entry if I can. As I wrote to my good running pal who was suffering a long layoff out of necessity, now is a good time to think long and hard about what you did (or didn’t do) that got you injured. Those words I must now eat myself, along with everything else I am still eating. Watching the numbers go up on the bathroom scale – is like watching all that good training I put in last year go down the drain.

So, for the benefit of my running pals reading this, I will look back on a tremendous 2010 – my best season ever – and try to figure out exactly where this went off the rails. I do count a blessing. It is early in 2011, and there is plenty of season to look forward to.

First, I believe strongly in the hard-easy system. An easy recovery day must follow every hard day. If I obeyed this one basic rule, then I should not be sitting here writing this. But I am. So now I look back and count how many times there wasn’t a proper recovery, and it turns out there were more than a few blaring indiscretions: July – ran a 10k race four days after the Acura 10 miler. October – On the SAME DAY, run last leg of the Toronto Marathon relay, after racing the half to a new PB. November – Casablanca 8k (PB), 6 days after the Road2Hope Marathon (PB). Again November – On the SAME DAY followed up Whitby 10k (PB) 20 minutes later with another 10 miler. December – Burlington Santa Jingle (top master), next day Whitby Santa 6k (first overall). Oh yeah, I was chasing the Road Warrior title, so at least there was a reason for this insanity.

So there is the first lesson. Although you can do back to back races and get good results, even PB’s, and think you got away with it, rest assured the Pied Piper of Injury will call. Recovery time after a big race is important. There is an old adage, 1 day off (or easy) for every mile at race pace. That kind of mutated into “its been 6 days since I last raced, so I’m good for another 6 miles….” Hmmm.

Second, there is my treatment plan, mainly ART sessions with my chiropractor. Dr. J at Dynamic Balance is very good at it. However it only works with regular attendance. My coverage ran out in October and so I stopped going every week (when I needed it most). Coincidentally, around the same time tightness started building in my calf. Not enough to get in the way of training or racing, but something was there. I attributed it to worn shoes and got new ones. However, the trouble only got worse right into December, and I knew it was time for some downtime. Done.

On return to regular treatment, one thing shone out clearly: I had not been doing enough stretching. My IT and hamstrings were stupid tight. And come to think of it, from October on, I had become a bit negligent on this task. Stretching well takes time, and I was trying to take care of a lot of things both at work and at home. If you have read “Talent is Overrated” you may appreciate what a moron I have been. I was pushing my limit mentally, and also brushing off my stretch routine – a very important element of deliberate practice. But let’s be fair, I didn’t read the book until December.

Third, time off for recovery should be just that! I did a half-assed job of it in December, even though I really needed it. Kept running 3 or 4 times a week. Should have stopped, got in some cross-training, cardio at the gym, whatever. Now I am dealing with four weeks off, on my calf’s schedule, not mine.

Fourth, not listening to what my body was telling me. I started ramping up again (too soon) in January, following a schedule to keep daily/weekly mileage increases in check. However, all the little aches and pains that I knew so well in early December were back almost immediately, plus new ones. No matter how “easy” I took it, I felt beat up. Those long easy runs were just too bloody hard.

Last, too many things were robbing me of good sleeps. And once you get overtired, you can’t sleep well. Not a good place to be. Long commutes to fetch my daughter, getting up early for ski races, getting up early for my long run. Staying up too late the night before. In short, total mental overload. You recover when you sleep. No sleep, no recovery. Even easy recovery runs don’t work anymore.

Was it just one thing that did me in? Not likely. Well yes, it was: my own stupid neglect. Pay attention when you start noticing any of the above in your training. And correct it immediately. Not being able to run sucks.


Born and raised in Hamilton & Stoney Creek. Ran X-Country in high school, but not really special at it - a middle of the pack finisher. But then again, really didn't know how to train. Didn't run after Gr 12 due to nasty shin splints. Really never ran in proper shoes back then. Didn't try to run again until age 30. Then tried. And tried. And tried. Shin splints every time. Finally got it going for good at 38 in proper shoes and I have vowed never, ever, to stop running again.

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One comment

  • Excellent article! Too often the focus on pushing our limits comes at the cost of a proper recovery. Good luck on getting better and back to running.

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