Hitting the Wall

running marathonThere are days when you head out for a run, and everything is just bouncy. You spring along that road, powered by invisible Slinkies in your shoes, and the miles slip by as if you were being wound in by a magnanimous virtual fisherman. Today was not one of those days.

Today, an eight-mile run had less appeal than the inside of my son’s gym bag, and I put off the inevitable with repeated adjustments of laces and grumpy glances at the lowering sky. So maybe I shouldn’t have been surprised that, when I finally did trudge through about two miles of thumping misery, my left hamstring had started to whine and my right quad muscle was getting very uptight about having to carry its wimpy cousin again. All that smug self-satisfaction at adjusting my form to become a real runner started to look pretty silly, even though last Friday’s pain-free 20-miler had me convinced I had the whole thing sussed.

With the first icy slaps of polar rain hitting my face, I fought the urge to take the first turn for home and tried to get things working properly. Back straight? Check, I think. Arms high? I suppose so? Feet meeting the ground gently at the front and rolling easily backward? Probably not. ┬áThis is the thing: Without a coach or video evidence, it’s impossible for me to make an accurate assessment of my running style, and, whereas I may think I’m covering the ground with gazelle-like grace, in all probability I’m thundering along like a mammoth armadillo.

(In fact, on an unrelated note, maybe that’s why some people didn’t greet me as I run. If I catch the eye of a fellow park user when I’m out, I always say hello, but the number of people who simply stared blankly at me on my run today is making me even grumpier. Were I confronted with a scarlet-faced, heavy-breathing juggernaut in trainers, however, I probably would avoid all communication too).

So, I’ve decided to park my running form rehabilitation for the moment. I will continue to try running more on the balls of my feet and keep my back straight, but until after the Lakes of Killarney Marathon on May 16th, I will go back to downing a couple of Nurofen Plus before I head out on a training run, and keep myself going by compiling a list of the movies I intend watching on May 17th. Chariots of Fire is not on the list.

On the positive side, whatever about my hamstring and quad, I shouldn’t suffer any more strain from attempting to pat myself on the back.

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