Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Healthy, Beautiful, Deadly?

Running is healthy and beautiful for sure.

Last week I completed a three week buildup in my training. It's been a challenging three weeks, not only to complete my workouts but to find the time to do so. In those 3 weeks I ran 131 miles and biked 137, not to mention the strength workouts. To the non-runners this probably sounds crazy, but I have goals in front of me and I enjoy my activities. Workouts may seem like a hassle before you begin them and then there are bad workouts where a run just doesn't go well and you can't wait to be done, but I ALWAYS feel better and have a great sense of accomplishment when I am done. It's like a drug. It makes you feel better, it makes you look better and it gives you more energy, how can you lose?
Working out and training is obviously not all roses and rainbows. There are time conflicts with work and family. It takes careful planning and time management to get these things done. Secondly, there are generally some aches and pains that go along with training. Sore muscles, bruises, and a variety of other minor maladies are all part of the amateur and professional athlete's life. This year I made a couple of visits to the physical therapist, mostly due to over-training and not really knowing what I was doing. Other minor injuries this year have included ...
Bloody Shin from biking

The infamous 'bloody nipples" from shirt chaffing.

Losing a toenail.

...all minor, laughable injuries. It's just a part of the journey. As athletes we can easily be our own worst enemies while training and competing. It's all about pushing yourself to the next level. Going farther, going faster and getting leaner, meaner, and stronger. But there is a line. We have to be smart about it. Do you have a plan? Do you follow it or overdo it? We must learn to listen to our bodies, knowing when it is time to push and when it is time to recover, heal, and regroup. Backing off is no easy task. Do you know when to do it? Can you do it?
My two trips to the physical therapist were due to lack of a balance in my training. I was running harder, farther, and longer than I should have been. I was not taking proper time for recovery and I was neglecting proper strength training. Again all of this resulted in minor inconveniences for me with fairly quick and easy solutions to my injuries. I was lucky.
This last weekend somebody I went to high school with wasn't so lucky. I was on the high school wrestling team for a couple of years and the coach's son was a year ahead of me. He was an all star on the team. He went on to be a very good wrestler in college, then he went back and took over for his father, coaching at the same high school from where he graduated. His name was John Chapman. His wife is the track and cross country coach at the same high school. They were running the Bix 7 together for the second year in a row. Unfortunately at about mile 6, John, 41 years young, had a heart attack and passed away. I never really knew John very well, but it sure hits close to home. I will be 41 in September, it's scary. As an athlete you don't expect these things to happen to us because we eat well and we exercise; we are healthy. You can read about John here and here. It's a terrible tragedy.
It's been a hot and humid summer. It's easy to feel a little invincible after a good hard workout. We are not invincible, in any way.
Please, listen to your body, train smart, and be careful out there.

RIP John

1 comment:

  1. Great post Jeff!

    I love the running part of the sport, not a fan of the physical training though & your post is a great reminder to not neglect it.

    Also, it's always sobering to hear someone you know, who is healthy pass away due to training... but it sounds like he was doing what he loved. Also, a great reminder to follow your passions & stay smart while doing them. I hope & pray that Johns family finds comfort & peace in this difficult time.