Thursday, August 29, 2013

Two weeks.

Way back when, in the dark ages of my broken foot, I went for an aqua jog.   It was a day or two after I had broken the darn thing, and I was trying to wrap my mind around the reality of 3 months no running.

Misery loves company, and so do pool-runners.  And so, when I saw what appeared to be another runner bobbing about in the "leisure swim and aqua jog lane" I struck up a conversation.  Yup, he was a runner (for a local high school) and injured.  His coach had told him to do nothing but aqua-jogging.

Of course, I asked the question that applies equally to prison or injury-induced cross-training:  "How long are you in here for?"

He glanced back at me, his face full of misery and suffering and agony.



Of course, I made it through my broken foot.  Returned to running, built up, trained hard, and became significantly faster than I had been, pre-broken foot.  And that's something I've tried to remember ever since.  Layoffs and setbacks aren't exit ramps; they're rest stops on the way to greater things. 

And many times, I've been the obliviously chipper one, voluntarily pool-running along a friend, offering up positive talk and experience, while they journey through MRIs and PRP injections and missed races.

I usually say something like "it seems like forever while you're stuck in the pool, but when you look back a year from now, it will seem much shorter in retrospect.  Promise."

And it's true.  The time off never seems that bad in retrospect. (Nor does race discomfort, come to think of it.)  And it also never seems that bad if it's not YOU experiencing it.  (Also just like race pain.)  It's all about perspective.

But that's the funny thing about perspective - it's context specific.  When you're sentenced to three months, two weeks off seems like nothing.  When you're in the heat of training, even a day off, or one missed workout, is hard.  Especially if it's YOU.

But of course, now I'm there again.  Two weeks in the pool, to take care of this stupid yet-to-be-completely-defined heel issue.  Several years ago, I was (mentally) very dismissive of the anguish of the kid who had to take two weeks no running.  Compared to three months, that was nothing.  But now that it's me?  Compared to two weeks of training with friends?  Two weeks in the pool is everything. 

But that's perspective for you.  Funny thing.  And I know that some day, in the not too far future, I'll look back at this, and note how short this period was.   Probably while accompanying a friend serving his or her own aqua-jogging sentence, trying to cheer him or her up.

I just need to get there first.  And that point is likely at least two weeks away.


  1. Thanks for this, so timely and encouraging.

    I will likely/hopefully find out today or tomorrow if I have anterior tibial tendonitis or shin splints, and how long I may need to be off - with my goal marathon 10 weeks from Saturday. Training had been going so well! Have a 2nd chiro appt today, podiatrist (w/ possible rx for PT) tomorrow. Trying to hold out hope for a quick return to running.

    Anyway, to be prepared, directly from the podiatrist appt, I'm going to the pool I'll need to be using to check it out and make sure I know routes, plan to start there on Saturday morning. (Wash-Lee) Will do Wakefield on Sunday, then they're closed till the new one opens on 9/15, so back to W-L until then. Ordered my H2Audio wproof case/hphones but won't be here for a few days. (the above based on your experiences, sharing/advice on this site, so thank you much for that!) Maybe I will see you there! :) I'll be the awkward freezing newbie flailing around, say hi and offer me tips!

    I may have to go twice a day as they don't open till 530 during the week, and with getting home and to work in DC before 8, will have to be short on the weekdays. Looking for longer on weekends. If I can do 4h runs on a treadmill, I hope I can do long pool runs in water, tho swimming tires me out. Haven't tried pool runs before. (also going to ask doc about Arc trainer they have at work, see if it's a possibility for additional workouts)

    Best case is I don't need to do it, and it's money/time I didn't need to spend but right now walking hurts, can't bike, and MUST do something! Going from last week running 80 miles in a great training week to this week being M/T off, 6 painful miles yesterday, off today is making me crazy, can't lose fitness...and the biochemical mood effect of not running isn't helping!

    I wish you a speedy and healing 2 weeks.

    1. We may very well see each other at the pool :) Looking forward to it.

    2. My first pool run today - diving well at W-L, 40 min! I needed 2 belts, is that common?) Not entirely steady state, I'd find myself slowing down and remind myself to speed up, then go a little faster when I changed my position for a while. (Not w/o discomfort, but best I can do. Pointing toes helps, but after a while calves cramp. Going to experiment w/ positions. Podiatrist took xrays, saw nothing, doing MRI tmro. He said I could do whatever didn't hurt. This probably hurts a little more than preferred in some foot positions, so will have to be careful. The water pressure did help the swelling though! Looking forward to getting my H2Audio waterproof ipod case, missing my podcasts and it will definitely help on longer pool runs. I plan to be there early tomorrow am.

    3. I've only known one other person who needed two belts, but if you need it, you need it. How much you need is very specific. I'd say the best guidance for whether you need a belt (or 2) is:

      1) you should have enough support that you're able to pool-run at a moderate effort without sinking or doggie paddling (if I go beltless, my effort usually skyrockets or my form suffers)

      2) you should still be able to sink if you stop moving.

      I will very likely be there tomorrow, though not until 7 or so.

    4. I was sinking with only 1, but wasn't too high up with 2, so I think I will stick with it. Maybe you can take a look tomorrow.

      Not sure how much ramp-up I should give myself to not push it too far at first. Think the cardio portion is ok, tho I am pleasantly feeling the workout, just don't want to tweak ankle. Thinking maybe KT tape/brace/Ace bandage to keep it stable, maybe have that for Sunday.

      Would like to start 530, but will be getting used to the routine. Not sure what time I will get there, may still b there at 7! Would like to do at least an hour, maybe longer, will see how ankle feels. Will have to get home and eat before heading out to MRI around 1030.

      Hope to see you! I suspect you'll be able to find me. :)

  2. I'm glad I was able to read this post today! There's something about shared misery/knowing you're not the only runner out there who cannot run as they please right now. I'm fearing the dreaded runner's knee has finally attacked me. :-(

  3. Cris - was so great to meet you, thanks for spending time w/ me - it just flew by! I don't often run w/ people (and never have pool run w/anyone b4, obviously) but I can understand the appeal even more now. And you were so great to talk to, hearing your experiences really helped me. Looking for your email (thought it was on site) so we can keep in touch, can't find it here on site. Agree direct better. (Would prefer not FB.) Fingers crossed for both of our MRIs.