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Thoughts on a Month of Slack

Posted by Filed Under: Running Injuries, Running Tips

So, I’ve essentially taken a little bit more than a month “off,” thanks to a little bout of “plantar fascitis,” about which you can read much more on the site.

And I’m having kind of a hard time getting back on track. I don’t think it’s lack of desire, or lack of willpower—there’s nothing so much I want to be doing than slapping feet against the earth and sucking in as much fresh air as possible.

I think that I’m fresh up against the evil wall of fear – fear that the injury will re-occur, and fear that I might have to reduce my goals to be closer in line with my capabilities.

In essence, I’m heading through a little bit of self-doubt. So, here, in no particular order, are five quick thoughts on getting over my mental hurdles, and getting back on track:

  1. Start slow: I think the trigger to my injury was jumping up to the mileage I wanted to be running without taking into account the mileage I SHOULD have been running. The temptation to just go, especially when just going feels good, is ultimately counter productive. There’s value in moderation. However, that energy’s got to go somewhere, which leads us to:
  2. Cross-train: Many injuries, I think, can be traced back to over-use. Which is a tough thing to overcome, especially when one’s excited about a new training regimen. Breaking out the bike, or taking the kids for a hike or the dogs for a walk, or hitting the pool, or painting the house—all excellent ways to get rid of some extra energy without aggravating running injuries. Who knows? Your spouse or significant other might be in the mood for some “cross-training,” what with it being spring and all. Yeah, you and I both know that last one is
  3. Stretch: Do any of us do this enough? Look up your injury and see if there are targeted stretches that can help you prevent recurrence. Or, go for a broad-band approach.
  4. Core: In my case, this wouldn’t help much, but for a lot of stride-related problems, strengthening your core can help. What is the core, you ask? It’s the bit that on a lot of us is blanketed with decades of indulgence. For some core exercises , see Bicycling‘s recent bit, or look at taking up Pilates or Yoga.
  5. New Shoes: In hindsight, I wish I’d pulled the trigger on a new pair of skins about a month earlier. Mile counting is one way to measure shoe wear however, the beginning twinges of problems are another. The warning signs were showing with me—longer time to “warm up” with each run prior to my calling it quits should have had me at the shoe store immediately. Spending $70 a month earlier than planned might have saved my training for February.
  6. So, there it is—how to avoid fear and loathing in five easy steps.

About Bill Jankowski

Jank is the nom-de-plume (alias) of Bill Jankowski. Jank is a runner (defined as “one who runs”, without any necessary claims of athleticism). More accurate would be to say that he enjoys the company of his iPod, and goes to great lengths to get long periods of time alone with his thoughts. Plus, running is a wonderful way to keep his ego in check. He’s been physically active since he was a kid (assuming that, for the years 1995-1999 and 2001-2003, drinking counts as “active”), playing Soccer, Flag Football, Basketball, and Softball while in college (for his fraternity’s B-team)(Actually, add 1990-1994 to the years of inactivity). In addition to running, Jank swims (controlled drowning), bikes (’cause his mom suggested he play in traffic as a kid), and kayaks (see swimming, but with sharks and props). An engineer by the grace of God, a (recovering) submariner by the graces of the taxpayers of the United States, and an MBA by mistake, Bill enjoys gear (oooh, shiny!), cycling (oooh, shiny bikes and clothes!), and poking at accepted ideas with a pointy stick. In 2004, Jank decided he didn’t want to go full-over to being fat, and took up running (instead of stopping eating). In 2005, he finished his first marathon (WooHoo!) in October, and his second two weeks later (dumb idea). He is still recovering. Bill lives in Connecticut (the poorer, eastern part) with his lovely wife Melissa (who is far more fit than he is and way less navel-gazing about it), and their two sons, Jake and Nate, who, in addition to having deliberately cool names, are the finest children to grace the Earth (clear proof that “evolution through natural selection” is bunk; although he still questions the monthly bill for “Pool Boy” despite not having a swimming pool). His rants can be found at runmystic.jankowskis.net; his best stuff is found here at CRN.



11 Comments
  1. thodarumm on March 19th at 11:00 am

    Oh my!
    I am one week away from my first half marathon race and decided that I will wait to retire my shoes after the race. I have been feeling pain after every long run and wondering if it was my shoes. Your post is making me rethink. I just thought it may be bad to try new ones just a few days before a race. I dunno how many miles I have on this.. I did not keep track.

  2. Mark Iocchelli on March 19th at 12:07 pm

    Bill, can I add one thing?

    You mentioned “start slow” but then go on to explain it in terms of high mileage. I’d like to add that slow *speed* is also a great help in building up to where you want to be.

    In my case, by starting out really slow (slow enough I thought walkers were going to pass me) for a good month or so, I was able to set the foundation for getting to where I am now – 70 miles per week and feeling great.

    Just a thought…

  3. Anne on March 19th at 6:41 pm

    This is the kind of advice we should all heed (yet somehow never do). Good luck coming back from PF — that’s a stubborn one.

    I think one of the hardest hurdles is recognizing you’re starting from scratch and not picking up where you left off after a few weeks.

  4. billjank on March 19th at 7:10 pm

    thodarumm – If you’re planning on getting the same type of shoes, it’s been my experience that it only takes a couple of days, 5-10 miles or so, to break in a new pair of shoes.

    Good luck on the half…

    Mark – the start slow is great advice – I’ve been way too aggressive in teh past.

    And Anne – thanks. I’m hoping that I can make it back this time.

  5. Run, Run, Run, Run, Run, Cycle, Cycle Too » CRN, or the Blogging Runner’s Recreation, being a discourse of ROADS, WOODED TRAILS, RUNNERS & RUNNING on March 19th at 7:36 pm

    […] Anyway, I really wanted to do some cross-promotion here. As I’ve mentioned, I do some (not enough, I know Mark – the beatings are improving morale, though 🙂 work for Complete Running. I finally broke out of that writing slump with what I think is a pretty decent bit on my plans for comeback. […]

  6. Quenton on March 19th at 8:37 pm

    I’m a college runner who just spent three months in the absence of any exercise whatsoever due to a spine injury. I biked for the first time today and realized that, for the first time in my life, I am an out-of-shape-human-being, rather than an out-of-shape-runner. I have fully embraced the challenge of coming back from square one and hope that you can do the same.

    Good luck.

  7. Yolanda on March 19th at 11:36 pm

    It’s frustrating to start again,isn’t it? I’ve been trying to get back at staying fit after being sick for a month. Yes, it’s not that long but the number of times I’ve missed exercise is like the number of times I’ve grown weak. Patience and hard work should be our main trait in these times.

  8. Oscar on March 20th at 8:54 pm

    I agree that taking it slow is certainly the main point in starting. We can’t risk the problems and complications we might face by rushing in to things we are new to. It’s usually a child’s attitude to rush into things. They don’t think of the consequences first

  9. Jeanne on March 22nd at 7:49 am

    great advice dennis. We all face starting over at some point or another. Thanks for the reminder.

  10. Tracy on March 23rd at 8:10 am

    -Yolanda

    This is a really great way to look at it! Since I’ve been running (albeit on and off) for a long time, I sometimes expect myself to be able to maintain a certain level of fitness even without doing the actual *work* to maintain it. If I find that can’t run a mile in 8 minutes or jog for 30-40 minutes without doing any training, I feel like a failure. It helps to remind myself that there’s nothing inherent in my body that allows me to run a certain distance in a certain time–all of that is achieved through consistent training. And it’s DEFinitely much easier to get out of shape as an adult with a desk job than as an active teenager. Sigh–those were the days!

  11. Jenn on October 12th at 6:53 pm

    Well im almost in the same boat . Was diagnosed with plantars fasciitis over 7 weeks ago. I have had my boot off for two weeks and still a lil worried about going back at it.. I wasnt an avid runner more like a jogger building up to running before this.. now Im just worried if its healed and should I just do eliptical stuff for a month then go back to jogging. Any suggestions?
    I really am looking forward to becoming a runner.

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