May 1, 2009

Believe in the crash

street poem
Originally uploaded by the amazing niznoz
April was a slow month here at The Long Rush, slow in every sense, not least because I kept taking time off from running to nurse new injuries. Actually I don't like to think of them as injuries, or not as running injuries - or really anything that could be my own damn fault.

The routine goes like this. I run a really good 50-mile week. The Sunday long run is blissful and hard. But then whammo, Monday is a bitch. Legs like lead, sharp pain in one place or another, one week it's in my side the next time behind my knee. I have to rest, ice, and elevate for a week, and it's my own damn fault.

And all I can think of for that week is how much I want to get back out on the road.

The attractions of such a cruel mistress might seem strange. I guess I'm one of those guys who wears his claw marks proudly. In fact the pain and the recovery from pain is not just an interruption of the affair, but somehow its consummation. One way to stir the stale life of the office chair is to go fight dragons. The dragon, to paraphrase Pogo, is always us.

So I push out against what seemed to be my limits. I want my 50-mile weeks, dammit. By now it's pretty clear that 50 miles is a lot for me, when I've only been running 4 months. I can't stop myself trying though, and each time the crash gets a little easier and the recovery quicker.

I've been haunted the last few weeks by this soundbite, from a story I read in the paper:

At this point, I like that fine line of balancing right between injury and not injury, seeing what I can get out of my body. Sometimes I lie in bed at night and wonder if I’ve done all I can, and if I haven’t, I go out at night and do more.

Obviously, that guy's even crazier than me. But how wise too, this idea that you can't know where injury waits except by charging toward it, that not-injury lies just this side of it, and somehow on that razor's edge you make your life your own, your own damn fault.


  1. In some ways, this sounds like my daily life with Parkinson's. I have to always be going to or beyond my limits. The alternative is not acceptable.

  2. Everyone's got their own marathon. The ones they give out the medals for are really among the least impressive. Here's to breaking the tape on another limit!

  3. Reminds me of one of my favorite quotes:

    The Great Way is not difficult for those who have no preferences. When love and hate are both absent everything becomes clear and undisguised. Make the smallest distinction, however, and heaven and earth are set infinitely apart. If you wish to see the truth then hold no opinion for or against. The struggle of what one likes and what one dislikes is the disease of the mind. (Sosan)

    I enjoy your blog.

  4. Redlining.

    That's what keeps it exciting.

    I really enjoy the way you write about running. One nice thing about the sport is its inherent reward and punishment structure. I remember a experiencing a growing sense of self determination when I first started to train seriously. By self determination I mean that for the first time in my life I started to embrace a belief system which allowed for the possibility of a large degree of control over one's own performances and physical self, and by extension, one's own future in general.

    Despite the realities of individual physical limitations and the curse of fate (too much Indian Food the night before, a fallen tree branch, a bad pothole), the sport of running offers what seems to be a fair and fairly reliable reward and punishment system, something that's more nebulous in other parts of of life. You get back what you put in (usually). Sometimes that's measured in minutes or seconds, sometimes in battle scars.

    I'll make a note to visit your blog more regularly.


  5. I'm trying to visit my blog more regularly myself.

    By the way, I don't think you can ever have too much Indian food.