My last attempt at running fitness began in July and ended with a calf muscle strain in early October. Calf muscle strains are one of the common, seemingly chronic problems that have plagued my efforts at running going back for five years or so. Going back ten and fifteen years ago, my calves would be a problem whenever I tried to run more seriously and train on the track. Now my calves seize up for no apparent reason.
It has been an excuse for the last two months, I suppose, that I haven’t been able to gear up to start running again because it would just lead to another injury interruption. I’ve been out running maybe two days a week for the last six weeks. All it takes is a little bit of a calf tug to make me take a day off, or two, or three. I’ve been cramping up at night, sometimes, even. But that is just an excuse, finally.
Taking my son Luc to his physical therapist at the University of Chicago, I saw my own PT, Molly Malloy, and talked with her about the calf problem. She suggested, as a start, that I try to drink more water—at least 8 cups a day, a lot of water. Call her again if it continues to be a problem.
I haven’t been as compliant as I should be about the water, and I haven’t really been running.
On Saturday I got a Facebook invitation for a group called I <heart> to run – 2012 Running Streak. The invite came from Bob Geiger, Dyestat IL/ESPN High School web site editor and girls cross country coach at Whitney Young High School. The group program: Set yourself a goal, start on New Year’s Day, and run every day—a minimum of one mile–until you reach your goal. Several other running Facebook friends besides Geiger had already signed on.
Maybe this is what I need to get going. I even posted to the group wall today: “So on day 2 in Chicago it is 21 degrees, 20 mph cold NW winds, wind chill=6 degrees. Of course, Thoreau said we should best conquer winter by spending more time outdoors.”
So now I have a two-day streak and counting.
I am a day late taking up this blog for the New Year—after a two month hiatus. Over Christmas I actually got an email from a reader asking what happened to the blog. I had promised an update about the end of our season after the tough day, now long ago, at the Niles West sectional. Our team did, in fact, continue on to run the Midwest regional race in Terra Haute, IN, as part of the Nike Cross Country National series. So the 2011 team story has an ending that hasn’t been told.
Promising to pick up the blog again before the end of Christmas break, I did give an explanation to the inquiring reader:
“Our season ends in November, and then we start up again in January. We are technically supposed to have no coaching contact with the boys, and I take that pretty seriously. In part, it gives them a break from me!
“It also gives me a chance to be a husband and a father for a couple months.
“So I guess I took that break a little bit too seriously, suspending the blog.
“I do have some thoughts and events backed up that might be of interest. I am on vacation now, doing a lot of reading, too–including the Louis Zamperini book.”
Those excuses still hold. But of course they are just excuses.
So let this be the start of a blog streak for the new year—albeit a day late. For added inspiration there is also the example of North Shore Country Day Athletic Director Patrick McHugh, who has been blogging daily for just a little bit less than a year, I think. Patrick is another member of the I <heart> to run Facebook group.
There is always plenty to write about. I have some catching up to do on the end of the cross country season. I have, in fact, been reading a lot, and the Laura Hillenbrand book Unbroken, mainly about the World War II prisoner of war experiences of Louis Zamperini, qualifies as a running book because it also covers his experiences at the 1936 Berlin Olympics, where he ran the 5,000 meter final. There have been some conversations about the rule book questions I raised about the finish line procedures at the Niles West Sectional. And of course we have also begun preparations for the upcoming track season.
Life gets a lot busier when track practice begins again on Tuesday, January 17—always, for us, the day after the Federal Martin Luther King, Jr., holiday. But when we start track practice I can run a little bit every day with the boys, in order to keep a running streak going. It will just take a little bit of time management to keep the blog going then, as well.