Thursday, March 10, 2011

Exercise in Frustration

Over the last ten years, I've been a fairly serious runner. I've done short races, I've done long races. I've enjoyed trail runs, beach runs, road work of all sorts, and endless miles run on treadmills when the weather wasn't agreeable. I have even participated in (short) adventure races, a couple of combo bicycle and running events, and even an international marathon -- one of eight marathons I've had the pleasure of running.

It's a well documented fact that runners slow down as they age. I've always expected some of that. My fastest race times were six years ago, when I was peaking in fitness levels. I was able to hold onto my paces and times for about three years after the peak.

Since then, running has become pretty frustrating. I've faced down one injury after another. First shin splints, then a knee problem, then plantar fasciitis, followed by the other knee. And even in the brief intervals when I'm healthy, I seem to be getting slower and slower.

On Monday, after a solid week of rest during my trip to Ethiopia, I was feeling great. My knees finally are starting to feel normal. Feet are strong. No hint of a shin splint for months on end.

So, I went out for a little four mile recovery run -- I figured, I should start slow. Two point eight miles into the run, my left calf stiffened, then went into spasms. Now it hurts to walk, and another run is...somewhere in the future.

Meanwhile, without regular training, I gain weight, get slower, and lose my hard-earned cardio capacity.

Truly an exercise in frustration.

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