Hitting Reset on My Running Goals

I’ve been injured on and off for the past six months.

Back in March I ran the Georgia Death Race. I felt ok after the race but took a few weeks off to recover. Since then, things have gone poorly:

  • April 2023: Peroneal tendon injury. I started back running about three weeks after GDR in April and quickly strained the peroneal tendon in my left foot within a week which required me to take a couple more weeks off.
  • June 2023: Left tibialis issue. I got back to running in May but halfway through June had to shut things back down due to some sort of issue in the tibialis area of my left leg.
  • July 2023: Right fibula issue. I took another week or two off but in the second half of July had an issue in my fibula area flare up in my right lower leg. So in late July and early August I took yet more time off.
  • September 2023: Right fibula issue reaggravated. After resting up until my right fibula area felt 100%, I resumed running only to have that area flare back up after just a week.

In the past six months I have been injured more than I have been healthy. It’s time for a reset.

What Is Going On?

I have a few theories.

  1. I trained for and ran GDR before my body was really ready for it. I’ve gone from not running to a 74 mile ultra in about 3 years. Some people’s bodies can handle that and some people’s bodies can’t. It’s possible I did in 3 years what I should have spread out over 5 or 6 years.
  2. At times I’ve run too hard or too often. My first injury in the list above came after I ran hard several times in a row trying to get ready for the Brasstown Bald Buster 2023, just a few weeks after GDR. The lower leg injuries started after I tried running five days per week for a couple of months. In the first case, I think I just overdid it, especially coming off GDR. In the latter cases, I think I just increased the frequency of my running too quickly above what my body could handle.
  3. I’m getting older. I turned 40 this year. I don’t believe that means I can never engage in ultras or run hard ever again. Ludovic Pommeret ran his way into fifth place at UTMB this year at the age of 48. Jeff Browning may have lost a step from his peak speed, but is still an elite ultra runner now in his early 50’s. However, it does mean my body takes longer to recover and adapt than it did when I was 20. I’ve thrown a lot at my body over the last 3 years.

Regardless of the reason, the treatment is the same: it’s time for a reset.

What Do I Mean by Hitting Reset?

Six months ago, if you’d asked me what my running goals were, I’d have told you about running a Western States qualifier every year and applying to the lottery, taking on 100 milers in 2024, and other ambitious goals. I still have those goals, but they’re going to go on the back burner for a while. I need to hit reset and rebuild from the ground up. What does that mean?

  • Step 1: Get completely healthy
  • Step 2: Rebuild a base of healthy easy running
  • Step 3: Develop speed, targeting short distances (1 mile to 10k)
  • Step 4: Gradually increase distance as my body allows me to do so in a healthy and sustainable manner.

I don’t know how long this process will take. What I do know is I want to still be running when I’m 60, and that means running has to be sustainable. Right now I’m focusedon step 1: getting completely healthy. I hope that step will only take a few more weeks, but who knows? It’s possible I may not do any consistent running for the rest of this year. Or I may complete steps 1 and 2 yet this year.

Step 1: Get Healthy

I’m not running at all right now. I won’t run until I can walk and hike completely pain free. Right now walking and hiking are mostly pain free, but there’s still some pain. Also, exercises that involve the lower leg can sometimes be just a little painful. So for now I’ll stick to the bike as much as possible, occasionally mix in a treadhike, walk, or hike, and only try running once I have at least a week or two where my right fibula area is completely pain free. It may be a week or two before I try running, or it may be a month or two, only time will tell.

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