Finding a Rhythm in the Blues

I’ve lost my rhythm, (and another toe nail, but that gives me great joy because it reminds me that even though I am not the runner I was last year, my body still thinks I am). It only took 10 weeks, but it is gone. I didn’t even realize how important it was  until now. I’ll get it back, that a guarantee, but in the meantime it does kind of suck. Rhythm is paramount in distance running.

I signed up for the Tacoma City  Marathon on May 5th, before my Physical Therapist gave me the green light to run. Anticipating that the race would fill up, I HAD to secure a spot. This is the 10th anniversary celebration of the Marathon Maniacs, and there’s no way I am going to miss THAT party. Now I have 9 1/2 weeks to be ready to run 26.2 miles, and the most I have run since mid December is 4 miles. Well, the other day I ran 2 in the morning and 4 in the afternoon, so I guess you could call it 6. Have I mentioned I am also a member of the Idiot’s Running Club?

My foot is healing nicely, and most days I don’t even have pain; that is until I run.  I have a few twinges here and there. PT man says that’s ok, as long as it doesn’t hurt terribly the next day. I still wonder if I will ever run pain free again. I watch other runners effortlessly floating like gazelle down the streets and paths of Portland and I long for that blissful experience. Hell, at this point I long for a 6 miler! Now, more than ever I understand why runners panic if they take more than their “scheduled” day off. This whole “starting over” thing is the pits.

Last Fall, before I realized I was systematically ripping tendons and muscles in my left foot, I read an article about Bernard Lagat, an amazing Olympian runner and world record holder. This guy is FAST! He holds records in the 3000, 1500, and the mile. At 37 years old, he is still running and winning races. What I found interesting about him, outside of his achievements, was his training schedule off season.

Apparently, when Bernard is not competing, he takes off 5 weeks and does nothing! I was shocked to read this! I remember thinking, “Wow, this guy is nuts. Who has the discipline and confidence to do that every year and then get back into race form to go on and break records? Well, he IS just a child at 37. (Yeah right) Anyway, I thought there was no way I would take time off between races. When you’ve trained for 5 months for a marathon, why slack off? You’re already THERE for crap’s sake, so just keep running, right? Well, maybe for some people but not for those of us too stupid to see the signs of injury.

So here I am re-reading the article about my couch potato buddy Bernard, and learning that he takes time to be lazy. He rests for 5 weeks and pigs out, gaining up to eight pounds. HA! Of course if I gained eight pounds, there’s be no living with me, so while I may have shifted my flab during this sabbatical, it hasn’t amounted to more than two or three pound weight gain. The Wall Street Journal article goes on to say that when he starts his training again:

Lagat said it takes some time to work himself back into shape, but that is part of the process. A 30-minute jog on his first day back can leave him doubled over, short of breath. By week three, he can go for a 10-mile jog in 55 minutes. “I never push myself feeling like I should be in shape right away,” he said. “I know I have time.”

Now I know I have a friend in Bernard Lagat. For what it’s worth, I am trying to learn that I am not YET able to run a quick 10 miles before work whenever I want. My weekend “long” run might only be 5-6 miles this week. It might hurt. I might tire. I WILL curse. But I will continue to run, and like a good girl, I will ONLY push past the limits my PT gives me just a smidgen. Patience has never been one of my strong points. (see Patience from January 27,2013) I want it and I want it yesterday. Ho Hum. I will channel Bernard and all the other athletes that take time off due to shifts in training, injury, or personal preference. I will remember that it does take time to build endurance and muscle memory so that I can run injury free, strong, and with rhythm.

Besides the physical rhythm of running, or cadence, there is a rhythm of the mind that is a key component to distance running. If you can’t settle into a comfortable mental state while attempting 2-4 hours of running, then you are pretty much screwed. I had this NAILED last year. Now I am all over the place during my 30-45 minute runs. Getting this back will take some concentrated effort on my part. Maybe I need to switch to decaf.

The other rhythm that is a little off these days is my heart. I still don’t know what the scoop is, and I am waiting for the results of my recent 48 hour heart monitor test. Oh, that was fun. Check out the contraption I had to wear for two days. Can you just picture trying to hide that under clothes? And you can’t shower. I worked out three times while wearing this thing, and let me tell you, sponge baths are for the birds! So these days there are so many things that remind me of my age, and I’m getting really sick of it. Injuries, heart palpitations, grey hair, insomnia, and hot flashes can all kiss my ass.


I have been poked, pricked, and prodded, trying to keep this bod going, and a little bit of “distraction” will not stop me. I’ll plow through this momentary lapse and be back in no time running races in goofy costumes, and collecting finisher’s medals, because that’s what I do to keep my sanity and my dress size.

What have you done to overcome an injury and push through your mental challenges?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *