Monday, April 30, 2012


My mood after the news

Last week I got some not so good news about my foot. I handled it well in the doctor's office, but I could feel the dark clouds swarming toward me as the day progressed. After too much time spent in my head, I completely broke, and the rest of the day was a blur of tears and fatigue. People have offered advice, condolences and have tossed out a few, "bummer" comments. What else can they do? I get the feeling any runner would probably be thinking, "I'm glad it's not my foot!" My response was to isolate and remove myself from anything running related. I can't take reading about people bitching about how "slow" they are running at under 7-minute pace and complaining that they "only" ran 10 miles etc. Now, I'm sure this could be seen as selfish on my part. It's not a death sentence. Still, I feel like I've lost a part of myself, and yes, it is my issue. Fuck it though. I'm going to be immature about this for a little while. It SUCKS!

I don't feel like writing very coherently, but I also wanted to vent. It turns out that the joint above where I had the surgery is also out of alignment. The result is more instability along the 1st Metatarsal and into the big toe. This is why I keep straining the muscle that runs underneath my big toe. It's working too hard to try to stabilize my foot. The doc suggested that we try to do the best we can with tape and inserts. I guess my foot has always been a little bit weird, but in the end it just means more pain and not being able to fully use my foot the way I want. I can "run", if you want to call it that. I just can't run normally, and wow the rest of my body hurts because of it.

Am I happy I can get outside and move? That's like asking an artist if he's happy three of his fingers were cut off but he can still hold a paint brush and make stabbing gestures at the canvas. I'll go with sure. I'm thrilled. You just have to realize that throwing globs of paint in the general direction of a work in progress is not the same as actually painting.

Serious trainin

I started a separate post, addressing a few ideas I left out of one of my other posts, but I think I will include it here.

One of the things I can't seem to stress enough when it comes to what makes a great athlete is addressing the person as a whole. So often in running forums and articles about runners, the focus is on mileage and hard running. However, it's impossible to apply what works for one to another. Instead of getting into debates about how much mileage is the best for runners, we need to start moving away from that kind of mentality and instead look at all aspects of a runner. Of course running well is a product of good training, but it's much deeper than that.

What am I getting at?

Here's what I mean. Racing to one's full potential requires some suffering. You can't get around the fact that running hard is going to hurt at times. The end result is that this kind of suffering affects a person not just physically but on many levels -- emotionally and some will even say spiritually as well. So, in order to "make" a good runner, one has to consider all aspects of the athlete, not just the training part. This is why most coaches fail. Well, that and they tend to be attached to outcome. One absolutely has to address how running hard affects a person emotionally. Obviously a runner who can handle more training will likely do better, but it's not just physically handling the work load that will get a runner to the top of his sport. It's important to look at everything from how to handle stress before a race to how to deal with injury and down time.

Years ago when I started doing some racing again (before the foot thing) I was emotionally exhausted. I can be a little overemotional at times. My coach told me that it was the first time he had to consider someone so affected by emotions. I could be physically ready to go but too emotionally drained to get my body to respond. Before you go thinking this is all bad, keep in mind that this side of me was also what got me to run well in high school and college. Anger is an energy, is it not? It's just that My ever changing mood might be a bit extreme. Before I continue Going nowhere slow (ly), I will add that a coach who can avoid attachments and look at the well-being of his athletes has what it takes to be a great coach. Trying to push an emotionally drained athlete is about as effective as making an athlete do intervals on overly exhausted legs. It doesn't work well.

Uggh. I'm in a mood lately. Sigh. Distracted.

Enjoy this while I attempt to get my shit together:

Oh! I almost forgot to add that the author of She Was Once a Runner has finished her book, and it is now available for purchase. *I can't actually buy it, because I don't have one of those reading devices, but I'd love to eventually read the finished product. Some of you may remember that I did an interview with her on my blog. 

* Correction! I just bought it, because Smashwords actually has an HTML format for sale too. 


  1. Some people are born with great talent. If you can't run a sub 4 mile if you are a man, and
    sub 4:30 as a woman, you have no talent. There
    is no point in getting all worked up over nothing.

    1. Some blog commenters are born with great talent. If you can't generate an opinion that qualifies for the top one-hundredth of one percent in terms of insight, humor, or even vulgarity, then you have no talent, and you shouldn't litter the Internet with your thoughts, period. There is no point in getting worked up over someone else's expressing angst, regret, fear or what have you when all you can offer is platitudes and bastardized elitism.

  2. That's a pretty big generalization, because it all depends on the event. Nobody is going to to run 4-minute miles up Pikes Peak, for example. The last part of my post was supposed to be about getting any runner, regardless of whether or not they can run sub 5-minute miles, to achieve maximum performance. It's my belief that any athlete who wants to have continued success has to be viewed as a whole, not abstracted to just a runner. It's true though that an elite athlete has to have at least some raw talent/good genetics.

  3. "Am I happy I can get outside and move? That's like asking an artist if he's happy three of his fingers were cut off but he can still hold a paint brush and make stabbing gestures at the canvas. I'll go with sure. I'm thrilled. You just have to realize that throwing globs of paint in the general direction of a work in progress is not the same as actually painting."

    That paragraph breaks my heart because it sums up the past two years for me. I've finally gotten to the point where I'm past making stabbing gestures at the canvas and moved on to fingerpainting, and I've had so many people tell me to be happy with my progress and tell me I should be grateful that I "have my health, because look at all the people dying from cancer." But rather than seeing every step as a sign of how far I've come or how fortunate I am, it's hard to look at it as anything other than a testament to how far I'd fallen, and while I appreciate their support, it just makes me feel like no one understands or even wants to try to understand how I actually feel. Thanks for putting yourself out there. Obviously there's nothing I can really say to comfort you, other than letting you know that yes, you're allowed to be angry.

  4. Oh Becki, I feel for you. I'm so sorry. Today I was happy to be able to just be outside, but mostly I am still grieving for all that I have lost. Believe me, I understand. I only wish there were something I could do or say to make it better for both of us. Somehow knowing I'm not alone in this is a little bit comforting, so while I'm sad to know you are in a similar boat, I'm grateful that you shared this with me. Thank you.

  5. That wasn't too bad a rant.

    Good point again about coaching and the importance of the coach knowing the whole runner, not just the physical side. The mental side comes first after all. The young runner who had the physical ability to easily win one of the marathons at the London Olympics is probably no longer running.

  6. Thank you, Ewen. I agree about the mental side. It really does take addressing the entire athlete to achieve any kind of success.

  7. Interestinh about the "emotional drained" runner. Makes.sense why so many ladies start to crumble to pieces towards the end of their college career.

    When I was in college I had a year where I just couldn't race at all. I went from being able to run through anything to being pretty miserable and weak. When things in life started changing I broke out of it. Make sense though, now I'm going to over analyze....
    man I wish I was talented! How many females can run under4:30 for the mile? Really? Whatever.

  8. hehe- suggesting Meggan has no talent is like insisting Brian Greene has no brains. :D

    It's great to see you running so well now. I'm glad you did break out of it.

    I think there are many coaches who discount the emotional side, focusing mainly on a training schedule. Hopefully that will change.


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