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Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Off Balance

It never fails - as soon as one part of my body heals, another part begins to fall apart.

It's kind of like the first half of the Bulls' season this year. They couldn't seem to get everyone healthy on the floor until around the All Star Weekend. Once they got everyone out there, they became a pretty impressive unit, but until then, they were kind of limping around.

Which is exactly what I have been doing for the last couple weeks. Well, not really limping. It's just that in many of my runs, I've had some nagging pain in my left knee, certainly caused by me going from not running at all to training for a marathon. Everything I read talked about overuse injuries, and the best medicine being rest. So I backed off my speed and took my resting days seriously.

Now, my left knee feels great. In fact, I was thinking just this morning about how great that whole leg feels. I was thinking this because my right knee decided to be a jerk.

It's important to rest when you're injured, because one injury can spark another. This is why, for most of my high school running career, I hurt on one side or the other. My right ankle would start to hurt, and I would run through it, but as a result, I'd put a disproportionate amount of stress on the left side, so my left knee would go. As that healed, my right hip would get into the action. In a 12-week season, there isn't much time to heal, so I always just ran through it, a bad habit that I've kept to this day.

When my right side started kicking up this morning, I simply couldn't believe it. The pain started around the knee and gradually pushed down into the shin, which leads me to believe that it's nothing more than some residual muscle pain from the weekend. I'm still a little bit creaky, and it took me about half a mile to really get going again today.

It probably also didn't help that I allowed my self to "push the pace a bit" because my training program said I could. Specifically, it said that I was allowed to push the last couple miles, but I went out a little faster than normal. It was nice and cool and still pretty dark when I made it outside, and that kind of atmosphere just lends itself to speed.

The pain flare in my leg slowed me up a little bit, but once I got past the last stoplight, I let myself stride out and push again. I had about a mile and 3/4 left, and I wanted to see what I could do.

However, the irritation in the leg slowed me back down. Not much, but enough that I knew pushing through this would be a stupid decision. Better to settle into a more relaxed pace and finish a bit slower than have to miss a run tomorrow morning because I went and pulled a muscle. Obviously.

The great thing was, it didn't slow me down too much. I focused on dropping my shoulders, keeping my hips beneath me, and pumping my arms, and I only slowed down about 10 seconds per mile on the last bit. I desperately need someone to coach me on running form, but these are a few of the tips that I have remembered from the many coaches I have had in the past, and today they were just what I needed. If I could keep myself from kicking the back of my own leg, I'd be set, I think. They might even make shoes for that.

I guess what I re-learned today is to keep myself as balanced as I possibly can. If I can't run with proper form, then I shouldn't be running. And if I'm not thinking about my form, then I'm probably not running with proper form. It's something for me to think about tomorrow when I take the dog with me.

I mean, how much can a hyperactive dog really mess with your stride?

Tuesday's Run:
48 Degrees / Clear
6.01 Miles
42 Minutes, 8 Seconds

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