Friday, March 9, 2012

How to Return from Injury

Runners coming back from an injury, in addition to physical obstacles, face mental obstacles.  The first post-injury run presents two mental pitfalls: (1) The "wow, I really feel rested so I'm going to tear this up" feeling that could lead to too much too soon; (2) The "I'm so out of shape after taking a month off that I'll never be ready for that race" feeling that leads to depression when one should actually feel good.

I've got a solution.
  1. Run on a treadmill. Don't pick just any treadmill. Find the one with the ratty belt that makes annoying noises.  Because running on a treadmill is tedious under normal circumstances, you'll be sure not to overdo it by running too far.
  2. Watch annoying TV. Pick the treadmill with a direct view of something that you would never watch under normal circumstances. Make sure it annoys you. If you're a Yankees fan, watch highlights from the 2004 ALCS. If you're a liberal, watch Fox News.  If you're a conservative, watch MSNBC or CNN. It's that easy.
  3. Eat crap all day.  Not literal crap, crappy foods.  Jalapeno bagels will do the trick every time.
  4. Exercise before you exercise.  That way you won't feel obligated to continue running to stay in shape.
I applied these rules last Friday with amazing success. I started the workout by riding the stationary bike. I then searched for a treadmill. I found one with a loose belt next to a guy singing Barry Manilow and right in front of a TV showing CNN's political "experts" denouncing the Republican presidential candidates because Rush Limbaugh called some law student a slut because she has so much sex she needs help from the government to subsidize it. Haven't these guys said enough stupid things on their own without having to blame them for something a radio entertainer said?  I digress.

I started the treadmill run slow because I was afraid of potential pain. Because of the deteriorating state of the treadmill, I convinced myself it was for safety purposes. I started to pick up the pace, but every time I started to let loose, my esophagus burned with the aftertaste of jalapenos. I had to slow down. Although I had the energy to run five or six mile, I stopped after 1.6 miles and sat down next to the Fox News report that President Obama is Shirley McClain's ex-lover and the reincarnation of Abdul Nassar.

The strategy worked to perfection. I didn't run too far. I didn't run too fast.  I didn't feel bad about running too slow. I learned that Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, and Newt Gingrich hate women... and babies. 

By the way, Barry Manilow rocks the treadmill.

Training update (as if you care): I followed up the Friday treadmill run with a Saturday 10-k at a sub 8-minute mile pace and a Monday five-miler.  On Thursday I had to cut my run short due to calf soreness. I will not employ my recovery strategy on Saturday. It's my 11-year wedding anniversary and I want to run a mile for each year I've been married. If the run goes half as well as my marriage has, I'll knock the eleven out in about 45 minutes.  Otherwise, it will take about an hour-and-a-half.


  1. Happy Anniversary! I will plan to follow your rules when my PT lets me run again (sigh)--maybe skipping Barry Manilow. Until then, I will curse the stationary bike but ride the damn thing nonetheless.

  2. I didn't know you were barred from running. Did I miss a post?

  3. Since you mention Barry Manilow, I feel the need to mention that I've seen his alter-ego, Neil Diamond, in concert TWICE in my life. Twice. It's my dirty little secret.

    (And I rose to my feet for the ending of "America", you bet your sweet jalapeno.)