'Sometimes I think it's a shame when I get feelin' better when I'm feelin' no pain.' - "Sundown," Gordon Lightfoot (1974)
Just because a person has coached athletes for a few years, has learned from hard experience what not to do, and struggles on a regular basis to clearly communicate those lessons to people who ask questions of them does not necessarily mean they have achieved an immunity to the disorder I like to call "abject stupidity."
Somehow I managed to survive a brief exposure to this disorder on my way to my "real" job this morning.
I started to think about training for a marathon.
Those who follow my rambling, sometimes cryptic missives know marathon training nearly turned me into "once a runner" approximately six months ago. It wasn't necessarily marathon training which was the primary cause of my achilles injury as much as a failure to deal with an under-healed achilles tendonitis issue which plagued me for three or four years.
I'm not certain what made me start to think about the marathon. Could it be because the evenings and the early morning hours have become a little more cool? Perhaps the slow approach of autumn and the need to review the training plan of one of my athletes was a subtle hint. Maybe, just maybe, it was that set of 400s we ran during last night's workout.
I wasn't the one spanking the group, though. Jim took Deena and myself to the woodshed most of the workout. He was kind enough to let us out after the third set. But it was nice to float up along Jim's shoulder on the back stretch of the last 400 and be in that middle ground between floating - where you feel the spring in the toe-off - and the feel when you know there's no "extra gear" available.
So a little bit of the speed is returning; 15 seconds a mile here, 20 seconds a mile there. But I must remind myself, like Taco Bell differs from Mexican food, there is a vast difference between being "healthy" and being "fit;" being "able to run" and being "able to race." I am most certainly not out of the woods yet. But I am beginning to see glimpses of the glade.
Injured runners often take too little time off from training, don't allow the body enough time to gradually ramp back up to the level of training they were at when they injured themselves, and don't stay in touch with how their body is feeling during the ramp-up. Fail to exercise caution and restraint when increasing distance, duration, intensity, and especially when races are added, and those "small" injuries which are usually remedied with a weeks' worth of rest or cross-training can transform into "major" issues which drastically affect the overall quality of life.
Feeling no pain is not necessarily the same as feeling better. It is, however, the first step on the road to recovery.
As for this ol' coach, we're almost ready for 5,000-meter road races, and not much more. In the meantime, there's a couple of flat late-autumn and early-spring marathons I'll continue to consider; the operating word is "consider."
I'm not that stupid. Yet.