Where I Am, Running-Wise

October 30, 2010

I haven’t blogged about running in a while. For someone who claims to be a runner first, and a traveler seconder, I haven’t been fulfilling my obligations. Maybe that should be a Facebook profile option: “Who are you? Runner, traveler, writer, lover, fighter, sleeper, preacher…?” Interests are one thing, but how do you define yourself?

In February, I finally overdid it training on the Vibram Fivefingers. Even on the soft surface of the Santa Monica Beach, I succumbed to a stress fracture. I really couldn’t believe it, as I had completely given himself to the ideology of Born to Run by Christopher McDougall. But, in retrospect, I should have considered just how slow I needed to take things. I did start going only 1-2 miles a day in the Fivefingers, even though my weekly mileage was substantial before then. However, the surface is a huge factor; it is my opinion that Fivefingers do indeed offer natural running form and consequently greater endurance over longer runs, but you shouldn’t assume you’ll adapt quickly to what is a completely different style of exercise. Really. If you’re surrounded by firm sandy beaches, dirt trails, and grassy fields, more power to your training. I didn’t have that luxury, and kept on pounding the pavement thinking my feet would adapt. Not so.

Since then, I don’t think I’ve gotten past 8 miles/day. Part of me was just worried about further injuring myself, perhaps permanently. Another was thinking of my wrist injury in December 2007 and how it may have caused a lagging imbalance in my legs. So I became the personification of sloth, and watched more TV, drank more Dr. Pepper, and ate more food that was necessary. I was hardly obese, but, given the physical condition I knew I was capable of reaching, it was sad. Pathetic, more like it.

As of late October 2010, I’m still not quite over it. I have made some changes for the better: a Korean diet, giving up soda, and setting a schedule. When I arrived here in August my runs were sporadic. I thought I was above the trial of miles, and stuck to longer runs (4-6 miles) every few days, rather than going a little each day, and building up properly. But sloth comes back to bite me at my weakest moments. Korea isn’t as runner-friendly as Japan, and all it takes is one slight inconvenience to set me back weeks. Like not running when I’m traveling. Or not taking advantage of a cheap and well-stocked gym in my town. Or ignoring my schedule and just doing what I feel like; that’s what led to my stress fracture.

There’s nothing for it but taking it a week at a day. I’m only going around 20 km, but it feels good. My legs feel strong, and I feel more in tune with myself. I’m still shooting for a Fivefinger marathon in the coming months, but I may hold off on booking anything until I’m sure I can reach that point in my training. In the meantime, staying away from carbonated beverages, taking it easy on the sweets, and remembering why I run.

…it’s the fever. That’s the thing. The fever that connects you to lovers and poets and rare-air mountain climbers and madmen and lost tribes.
John L. Parker, Once A Runner

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