Sunday, November 13, 2011

Learning to Listen

When events conspire against us for the better, we should pay attention. A couple weeks ago the goals of my trail season were compromised by what I thought (was told) was a stress fracture; today I rest in my off-season with a perfectly good ankle. When confronted with the injury I was distressed that I wouldn't reach goals set many months ago and almost overlooked all the positive experiences of my first ultra season. I now realize that the injury, though not a fracture, was a billboard informing me that I wasn't addressing my long-trail recovery needs. In all likelihood, the PA at St. Mary's (who I've seen a few times over the years) understood my intentions and my compulsive approach to my season.

I had outlined my training and event history as she and I discussed the swollen ankle and I followed up with my desire to be at the Antelope 100K in a couple weeks (now a weekend ago).  She dutifully processed some x-rays, and then informed me that the radiologist wasn't available to look at them but that she could easily make out a fracture. She gave me a boot and advised me to visit an orthopedist for further evaluation. Could it be that she realized I needed to simply rest from Firetrails and my just completed 39-mile weekend? She may have seen that if she informed me of a clear x-ray I would soon be steering the Yota toward the Great Salt Lake. The radiologist certainly would have reported no anomalies, but he/she was conveniently "absent".  After a few days in the boot, during which I had withdrawn from the 100K, I had no swelling and no pain. It may be a strange interpretation of the Hippocratic oath, but her medical advice did more good than harm. When the orthopedist informed me of the clear x-rays, simply pointing out some arthritic deposits which are probably pretty normal for a 47-year-old athlete, I started my off-season with a new emphasis on low-impact cardio and lower-body flexibility and strength (thanks to Jon Hodges, PT). The dreaded and uncomfortable (and successful) boot made me aware of my recovery needs and allowed me to better focus on a productive off-season.

So it has begun. I'm yearning to get back on some trails for a long afternoon of working my way up and over a pass or two, or contouring my way along two-track roads through early fall snows above my house. Instead, I've shifted that compulsion to 30-minute low-impact elliptical workouts followed by balance, flexibility, and strength drills three times a week. The intervening days allow for some trail time but the runs are limited to a maximum of 30-minutes at a reasonable pace. The gym time can be boring but it maintains the foundation while allowing the body to re-build and, hopefully, improve.

I'll keep this up until at least Thanksgiving when my 2012 season "starts". Here's to learning to listen to the signals the machine gives us. We'll rest and grow to keep going...

Week Summary

Goni T-Line East: 3.2 mi (+504 ft); 10:19 pace
Combination OB: 3.6 mi (+217 ft); 9:06 pace
Combination OB: 3.5 mi (+197 ft); 8:20 pace

Weekly Totals: 10.3 mi (+917 ft); 1:34:34 on trail

1 comment:

  1. Are you working out at a gym facility or at home? I love doing the "lipty" it feels good on the bones... =D