Tag Archives: injuredrunner

Symbols of excellence … or of just being better

img_4664When I stepped on the treadmill Monday morning I pulled off my hoodie. Underneath, I was wearing a blue and black singlet with a huge Chicago Marathon logo on the chest.

I felt a little silly wearing a singlet on the treadmill when I was going to be doing less than 40 minutes of work. I wore a singlet a lot in training this summer, but for me putting on a singlet is like putting on a game jersey, a uniform. Putting on a singlet means, it’s race day. It’s a signal to my brain that this is different than every other day. It’s time to perform, to put all that training to use.

In other words, it’s symbolic of the significance of the day.

Monday morning was nothing special. Heck, I was going to be walking more than I was going to be running. I planned to be on the treadmill for 38 minutes and cover about 3.1 miles. In other words, I was going to do 5K about a minute faster than it took me to “race” the distance 8 1/2 years ago when I “ran” my first race.

Like I said, nothing special.

But I wore that singlet for a reason. Just like race day, it was symbolic. I wore that singlet to remind myself that I am capable of big things, despite the way my body feels right now. Less than three months ago, I ran a freakin’ marathon. Yes, it chewed me up and spit me out, left me broken and bruised, but I ran a marathon. And I ran it faster than I’ve ever run 26.2 miles before.

So yeah, I’m a little broken and not quite feeling like the dude who ran a marathon on Oct. 13, but that singlet was a reminder that I am indeed able to do the things I want to do. If I stick my nose in it, do the work I’m supposed to do, the work I need to do to prepare for those things, I am capable. I am able to do the work. I have done it before. And big things can happen when I am willing and able.

That singlet was a reminder to get to work doing those things.

Running is not a heck of a lot of fun right now. Actually, I’m not even running that much. I hop on the treadmill every other day, walk for 5 minutes, then do about six intervals of 3 minutes jogging, 2 minutes walking. I’m actually spending a lot more time doing physical therapy, trying to repair my body and strengthen it to hold up to doing the type of running I want to be doing.

That’s fine. I’m OK with that … for now. I had a great year of running and a couple of stellar races, it’s actually a good time to give myself a break, assess where I am at, and fix the things that are broken. It’s a great time for me to create new routines, new habits related to fitness and running. If it was forced upon me because I got so banged up running the marathon, then that is a blessing.

I may not feel like the guy who ran the Chicago Marathon a little over two months ago, I may have felt silly wearing that singlet on the treadmill for a run/walk Monday morning, but right now I’m just focused on doing the right things. I can’t compare myself to where I was, I can only do the work to get back to where I was – no, scratch that, I can only do the work to be better than I was.

That singlet was a reminder of what I’m capable of, but also a kick in the ass to be even better.

10 weeks to Chicago


An hour and 50 minutes on Sunday isn’t much, but it was a win nonetheless.

I glanced at my watch as I passed a couple while jogging up the short hill on the Back Cove Path approaching Tukey’s Bridge. I was about 55 minutes into my run, moving at about a 9:15 per mile pace. Taking the shortest route home, I had about 3.5 miles or about 35 minutes to go.

Is that enough for today?

Do I want to try for a little more?

Ah, I feel OK, just run to Baxter Boulevard and make a decision from there.

My run Sunday was a bit of a test. It wasn’t a workout and it wasn’t really a long run, it was just about spending some time on my feet and seeing where I am as the Chicago Marathon quickly approaches.

45 minutes after glancing at my watch, an hour and 50 minutes after I left the house to grab a few miles, I walked back into my apartment, feeling better. Satisfied. Optimistic.


Saturday’s stats. 15 minutes up, 6×2 minutes kind of hard with a 3 minute recovery, 18 minutes down.

10 weeks out from race day, I figured out Sunday I’m not where I was two months ago, but I’m not where I was two weeks ago either. I’m not 100 percent healthy, I’ve definitely lost some fitness, but if I keep doing the right things, don’t ramp shit up too quickly, maybe, just maybe, I’ll be OK on Oct. 13.

That doctor’s appointment I had last week went all right, though the doctor thought I should probably be feeling a little better than I am six weeks after my initial exam. She’s not worried about me running and her goal is to make sure I’m ready to race at Chicago, which is encouraging, but she did want to dive a little further into what is going on in my hip/adductor. For now, that means more physical therapy and possible a deeper dive if we feel like that is necessary.

More than anything, I just want some reassurance that I’m not going to completely screw myself up if I keep running and training and trying to run a good race in Chicago. I’ve been encouraged by the last two weeks of training. I haven’t run a ton of miles and my workouts haven’t been super hard, but after running just 3 miles over a two weeks span and 10 miles the week after that, the 33 I ran this past week feels like 100.


Not where I want to be, but a step in the right direction.

But there is definitely doubt. After that appointment Thursday, I slogged through an uncomfortable 5-miler. My hammy was tired, my adductor was tight, my hip hurt. As much as I am trying to focus on having a positive mental attitude, that run was a little soul crushing. I was questioning myself for all 50 minutes of that run. I convinced myself that Chicago was not going to happen. I was too injured to run the type of mileage I need and if I tried to run the race, I’d end up hurt, limping and catching a ride to the finish line.

I took a rest day Friday, then bounced back with a little speed session Saturday and a little more than 11 miles on Sunday. I still felt some shit during those runs, but it was much calmer than it was Thursday evening. I felt tired and winded sooner during that speed session than I would have two months ago, but it felt mostly good to crank it up, even just a little bit. I never ran hard on Sunday, and I took a short walk break every 20 minutes, but to jog for an hour and 50 minutes was a victory.

To quiet those negative voices in my head for a little bit was definitely a win.

I wish I had a bit more time to get completely healthy and to train for Chicago, but I don’t, so I just have to deal with it the best I can. My goals, which were going to be hard to reach anyway, may be out of reach, but I’m not giving up on anything just yet. I have 10 weeks to get ready, I’ll try to stay positive, be smart and do the work.

At this point, that is all I can do.



Something to prove to myself


Finishing up my warmup, just before my workout last Wednesday, which didn’t feel good and started the ball rolling on trying to start feeling better. 

Before I start, let me assure the three or four of you how read this (but more so I’m trying to assure myself), I’m not yet completely freaking out (don’t freak out, Scootah, everything is going to be all right in the end).

That being said, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t in my own head a little bit right now. That hiccup I wrote about last week – a strained hip flexor which is causing some other issues in my right leg – has kept me running from since I aborted my run 5 miles in on Sunday. I had a few OK runs before that, but mostly, running did not feel good for more than a week before that jog Sunday morning.

I say I’m not freaking out, because, like I said last time, I have more than 15 weeks left until the Chicago Marathon and I had four pretty good months of build up until I had to shut it down. I was in a pretty good spot before getting injured and I will have time to build off that once I’m healthy and able to start training (that comes after I’m able to start running) again.

But I’m in my head a little bit because I’m little disappointed in myself. I wrote a while back about how I almost gave up on the marathon after Sugarloaf. I decided not give up on that distance because I didn’t want Sugarloaf to be my lasting memory of the marathon.

If you asked me, however, why it was so important for me to run another marathon, the most honest answer I could give is that I want to prove to myself I can do all the necessary work to get ready for a marathon.

The Chicago will be my fourth marathon and the fifth I have “trained” for. I put trained in quotation marks because I didn’t really train for my first. I trained for a half marathon, then did one 3-hour long run after the half and called it good (I ran 4:47 for a reason). I made it through training for Chicago 2014 just fine, though I only trained for that race for like 13 weeks and I took a break to move to Portland. I planned to run the Maine Marathon in 2015, but jacked up my hamstring and my adductor (which is part of my problem right now), and had to bag it. I made it through training for Maine in 2016 just fine and ran my best marathon to date. The build for Sugarloaf was going better than I could have hoped until I re-aggravated that adductor/hamstring. I spent a few weeks riding the exercise bike, still tried to run the race I was originally training to run, and fell flat on my face.

You see a trend there? Yeah, me too. Two of three marathon builds before this one, I wound up injured and either bagged the race or drove the struggle-buss for 10-plus miles.

Both times I got injured because I did something dumb to get injured (a faster-than 5K workout in the middle of a 9-mile run, for example) and didn’t do enough of the other work (which is also dumb) to stay healthy. My goal this time around was to avoid being stupid and do all the hard work necessary to make it to the finish line healthy, strong, and ready to kick the shit out of 26.2 miles. I’m not saying I can’t make it to the starting line on Oct. 13 healthy and ready to kick ass, but I’m clearly injured right now and that is the result of doing something dumb (trying to jump to a stand doing pushups is how I believe I injured my hip flexor) and not doing enough stretching, rolling and strength work to keep my body in one piece.


Thursday morning I spent an hour at the gym doing all the stuff I don’t do enough and end up injured.

There is a chance for redemption here. My race isn’t so close that I’ll run out of time to get healthy. I should have enough time to get over this pain, get back on the roads, and train enough to run a decent marathon.

It’s also a kick in the ass to do the stuff I always say I’m going to do and never do. Right now, I can’t really do anything else and I’m paying to go to physical therapy, which should be motivation enough to STOP FUCKING SLACKING.

So, I’ll try to keep the freaking out to a minimum. I’ll try to get out of my head and stop beating myself up. I can’t fix what I’ve already done, I can only try to be better moving forward.

I still have time to prove to myself I can do the work to run a decent marathon, so it’s time to stop dwelling on the dumb stuff, be smarter, and do the damn work.

Same old song and dance

IMG_2509I had a chat with the physical therapist at the start of my first visit after I had MRIs taken and needles full of cortisone pumped into both knees. We talked about my diagnosis and what I needed to do moving forward to continue running. I have been thinking about one part of that conversation a lot the last few days as I reach the final weeks of “training” for the Kennebec River Rail Trail Half Marathon.

Basically, I was told that I would indeed be able to run again, but I may not be able to run the type of mileage I had been running while training for marathons. I wasn’t told I couldn’t, that those 50-60 mile weeks were a thing of the past, but that they might be.

IMG_0279That has been on my mind the last few weeks as I approach 40 miles per week and feel how my body is responding to the increased mileage. I’ve been able to handle the load OK, but my knees are definitely starting to feel it, especially after five straight weeks over 35 miles (like that’s a lot). During Sunday’s 11-miler, it took a mile or two for my left knee to warm up and feel normal, then about 5 miles in, my right knee ached. There is a spot on the outside of that knee that gets sore and starts to talk to me after I’ve been on the road for a while. It’s not the searing pain I felt that finally put me on the shelf back in October, but I definitely feel something.

That’s just a fact of life for me these days. My arthritis isn’t going away. I’m probably going to deal with some discomfort as long as I run and I’m planning to keep running for a very long time, so …

“Hi discomfort, I’m Scott, nice to meet you.”

The question is, how much discomfort do I have to deal with? How much discomfort am I willing to deal with? And, most importantly, what can I do to minimize that discomfort?

I’m not sure I can answer the first two questions. I mean, I’m dealing with it OK for right now. It does get into my head a little bit sometimes. Running along the Back Cove Trail on Sunday morning, trying to take in the view of the blue skies and the reflections in the in ocean, trying to people watch, anything to keep my mind off what I was actually doing, I started to think maybe I had made a mistake. My legs were sore, my right knee had that dull ache, and I just wanted to stop. A comfortable chair and a cold beer sounded pretty glorious. Running another 4 or 5 more miles … well, I did it, but for that stretch along the Interstate on the back side of the Back Cove Trail, all I wanted to do was sit. I flipped the script and finished my run, though, so I’ll call it a win.

The answer to the third question is simple: I need to do more than just run. If I want to get back to the way I felt when I was training for and running the Maine Marathon in 2016, I need to do a hell of a lot more than just run. I need to run, a lot, but I also need to take care of my body. I need to do a whole hell of a lot more physical therapy than I am doing right now. I need to lose a few pounds. I need to stretch and roll. I need to transform my body.

rrrThis all sounds familiar, I know. I’ve been saying the same thing to myself for years. I’ve written probably 25 blog post stating the same thing. I even stole a slogan for this quest a year and a half ago (remember Redesign. Rebuild. Reclaim.?). All that slogan got me was a few cool T-shirts and a whole lot of regret. I regret not being more disciplined and following through. I regret spending two months on the shelf because my old man knees finally had enough. I don’t regret actually doing something about those old man knees and doing the work to start running again. I do regret not continuing all the hard work I did in October, November and December to get back on my feet and back on the roads.

Last week was a little bit of a wakeup call. My knees are telling me to get my ass in gear (not to mention my lungs, they were screaming at me during my hill workout on Saturday). If I want to run those 50 and 60 miles a week I feel I need to run a good marathon, I need to do more than just run. If I really want to run a marathon next October, which is the goal in the back of my mind right now, I need to dominate my physical therapy. I need to do everything I can to minimize the discomfort in my knees.

I wasn’t told for certain I would never run 50-60 miles a week, so that means I can, if I’m willing to do the work.


26.2 reasons to keep working


5Ks are cool right now. Some day, I want to run another marathon, though. (Photo by Jenny McCarthy Photography)

I’m sitting here, eating lunch and mentally preparing for my annual physical. I was thinking back on my last annual physical and remembered my doc put a note in my file, reminding himself to ask me about the Sugarloaf Marathon, which I would be running three days later.

I’m not really looking forward to reliving that race when he sees that note and ask me how it went. I’ve bumped into him a few times since blowing up on Rte. 27, but I’m pretty sure we didn’t talk about the marathon. I’ve moved on from Sugarloaf because a lot has happened since then (some good and some just total shit) but it still burns me a little bit.

This isn’t the first time I’ve thought about the marathon lately. In the midst of a 10-mile jog Sunday morning, when my knees were a little sore and my legs were super tired, I thought to myself “Am I ever going to feel good enough to train for a marathon again?”

The answer to that question is, I sure hope so, but I really have no idea.

On that run Sunday, I was feeling creaky and old. My left knee was sore to start, then felt OK when I eventually warmed up. My right knee barked at me a little bit later in the run, something that still happens from time to time, but thankfully it is nothing like the pain I felt back in October that finally forced me to the shelf.

I finished that run Sunday with mixed emotions. There was the side of me that says, “If running 10 miles feels like this, how the hell am I ever going to do 16-20 milers training for a marathon?” Then there is the side of me that says, “Six months ago I wasn’t running. Three months ago, 7 miles was a long run. This is a process. Chill the fuck out.”

Honestly the best thing I can probably do right now is forget there is such a thing as a marathon. Sure, it is a nice carrot to have to push me to keep working and rebuilding myself, but it is going to be a while before I’m in a position to run the type of mileage and to do the type of workouts to be able to run a marathon. Not only do I need to build back up to that type of mileage, but I need to continue to rebuild my body to handle the load. My 44-year-old arthritic knees won’t allow me to be lazy when it comes to strength work and physical therapy and my diet (I have a lot, I mean A LOT, of work to do in those departments. I’m kind of a lazy fucker) and still run without feeling like shit.

Right now, I think the best thing I can do is focus on staying healthy, doing the things I need to do to stay healthy, and prepare myself to run a decent half marathon in September. The marathon will be there next year and the year after that. Yeah, I’m getting older, but there is no reason I can’t, within the next few years, wipe that 3:47 goal off my chalk board because I crushed the shit out of it.



Back to my roots

couchto5k.jpgSprinting down Rte. 11 toward my sister’s driveway, I smiled as much as a could as I gasped for breathe. I was supposed to be walking my cool down, but after running for 30 minutes straight without walking, I wanted one last celebratory burst.

When I did the last workout of Couch to 5K on July 18, 2011, I figured that was it. I had graduated to bigger and better things. And of course, I did. I went from Couch to 5K, to 10ks, to half marathons and marathons. I was off the couch. I was a runner.

I don’t remember exactly when I deleted that app from my phone. I kept it for a while just in case, and just as a reminder of where I had come from in my journey to get fit and become a runner.

I never figured I would download that app on my phone ever again, much less follow the program.

But here I am, about 6 1/2 years later, and the Couch to 5K app is on my phone. I’m following the program. I finished Week 4 on Saturday, which included two three- and two five-minute run intervals.

I’m happy to report that I’m not following the program because I got lazy and stopped running. I didn’t gain back all the weight I lost (only some of it) and I still, very much, consider myself a runner.

I’m following the Couch to 5K program again because it is the easiest way for me to work my way back into shape after my knees finally forced me to the shelf, to the doctor’s office, and to physical therapy. I did not run for the better part of two months, from Oct. 14 to the start of December. I lost a ton of fitness. I’m easing my way back in.

I’m also following the program because, as I wrote in the last blog, it is a good way for me to slowly learn to run with the form that will keep my knees as pain free as possible. It has been an awkward process, and going out for 3-6 miles at a clip isn’t the best way to go about it.

Still, it’s quite a trip to be doing Couch to 5K again. I could be frustrated because it’s not where I want to be or where I should be, but really I’m 100 percent cool with it because it is a step in the right direction. I’m running again, even if only for 5 minutes at a time. I’m happy about that.

I’m not the guy I was when I started Couch to 5K. I don’t weight 235 pounds anymore (even if it feels like it sometimes). I don’t have a hard time running for a full minute, unless it is a sprint interval, and I’m not doing speed work, so that’s not a concern.

The guy who did Couch to 5K the first time was trying to become a runner. The guy doing Couch to 5K this time around is trying to become a better runner.

It’s not the same process, even if it is the same schedule.