Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Not Ready to Race

Last year at this time, I ran in a local 5K race.  So, I signed up again this year, hoping that I could participate again.

But tonight is the night of the race and I'm not prepared to participate.  So, I have made the decision not to show up there tonight.

I want to blame this whole barefoot thing for my not being ready for the race, because of how gradually I have had to proceed with barefoot running.  But of course, that would be shallow.  "If I had started up running in shoes I would easily be running 3 miles by now" I'm tempted to say to myself.  But that is so not necessarily true and is based on my "old" way of thinking about running.

Although at first glance it  might seem like I could have been ready for the race by now if I had worn shoes,  I have to go back in my mind and remind myself where running in my new running shoes got me.

I have to go back in time and remind myself of what happened last year

And when I remember developing that bad case of plantar fasciitis last year, I must wonder if I had started to run in shoes again this year if I would have ended up in the same boat

So, let's go back in time -- a time when I still innocently believed that my new running shoes were an essential tool in my quest to help me get back into running and finally run the Disney half marathon, like everyone else in my family of origin had already done.   Here is a picture of me at last year's local 5K "kicking it in" (please do not laugh -- I am a back-of-the-pack runner and this was "kicking it in" for my level) at the end of the race last year:

Notice that I've got my foot stretched out way in front of me and I'm coming down on my heel.  This picture really upset me when I saw it because I had been trying to practice chi running  while training. (In chi running, like in barefoot running, one does not want to reach out in front like that, but keep the feet underneath the body while running).  I had been trying to apply chi running technique without having taken any workshop in it, just by studying the book (ChiRunning: A Revolutionary Approach to Effortless, Injury-Free Running).

I had already felt that I had some success at chi walking several months before -- self taught from the book  ChiWalking: Fitness Walking for Lifelong Health and Energy as well -- in the 8 weeks of walking I had done to build a base, and had felt really fabulous doing what I thought was chi-walking at another 5K a couple of months before.   I really do think I succeeded somewhat with that walking form when I trained and had been very excited about it.  (Although I guess I should have at least video-taped myself and observed, in the absence of having any objective coach to teach me.)

But why did I not have that form in this picture?

Well, when I had gone to buy my new pair of shoes to begin training for the Disney half a few months before, the local running shoe store had convinced me to join a running club.  Since the schedule of the running club kind of fit my training plan for the 1/2 marathon, I had joined it.  At the finishing stretch of the race, one of the coaches from the running club was standing yelling and whooping and encouraging all of us to "kick it in."  Despite the fact that I knew I had a developing case of plantar fasciitis that I was trying to find a way around, and despite the fact that I had made a little race plan for myself, I ignored my intentions and my plan in order to "please" the coach who was cheering me on.  It is programmed in me to "obey" and sometimes I just respond automatically.  Also, in all the excitement of the moment I got a little revved up and lost my head a bit.

It was right after this race that the developing case of plantar fasciitis -- which up until then I had been trying to circumvent through various means -- took a severe turn for the worse.  After completing the race, I was very happy that I had not been dead last.  I excitedly called my sister (who is a marathoner and was going to run the Disney half with me if I trained and had been receiving regular training updates from me).  I reported on my race, and she was appropriately encouraging.  Just after that, I decided to celebrate by taking my two kids (my son took the picture) out to eat.

But when I got up and started walking with them to the main drag of town, I was immediately very worried.  The sharp pain of plantar fasciitis had increased 100-fold.  "Uh-oh," I thought nervously to myself.  "What did I just do?"  But I explained it away, "Oh, it's probably just post-race aggravation and will be better in the morning."  I limped over to the running store where we had the running club to pick up my cool running jacket for having completed the running club program, and then limped over to have a nice meal at a local eatery.

Looking back, I really feel that the "kicking it in" in this 5K race was a tipping point for the plantar fasciitis.  It got significantly worse after that day and in my heart I believe that any chance I had of stemming the tide of the injury was completely undone in that one race.

So, even though I have a feeling I could finish that 5K tonight in my Vibrams -- in fact I'm almost sure I'd be able to do it, especially if I included some walking segments -- remembering what happened last year causes me to be prudent.  Things are going really really well with my barefoot mile, and I know that after I develop a good base, there will be some fun races and running events to attend in the future.  One of the new philosophies I'm learning as I barefoot run is that there is a great beauty in the virtue of patience.

I wrote about this race last year on my Avocational Singer blog here:  Being True To One's Self.  Oddly enough, I wrote about how I did, for the most part, stick to my plan for the race.  It is interesting that I left out that part at the end when I didn't stick to my plan and responded to the coach urging me to "kick it in."  I guess I figured at the time that since I had stuck to about 95% of the plan I had done pretty well.  I don't see a contradiction. I was telling a part of the story and that part was true.  It's just that there was another part too, and I didn't realize the significance of the other part until much later.


Neil Z said...

That sounds like a fair conclusion to me. Don't fret, I know YOU know you made the right choice.

Avocational Singer said...

Thanks again, Neil!