Friday, November 11, 2011

Learning to Run with Hardware

OK, so once again, I'm reminded that I have turned into one of those people I used to be afraid of. The first metamorphosis took place back in 2004, when bike gear started replacing the books in my trunk, and I went from not owning a mountain bike to racing downhill in the space of a year, at the tender age of 36. 

The second metamorphosis took place when I joined CrossFit and signed up for CrossFit Endurance, making the conscious decision to run on a so-called "pre-arthritic" ankle with five screws in it. Five years ago when the orthopedist at Balboa told me not to run anymore if I wanted to walk when I'm seventy, I just resigned myself to never running again. I didn't like running anyway. 

But the good folks at CrossFit told me they could teach me how to run with practically no impact to the joints, using the Pose Method. Intrigued, and wanting to keep up with my athletic 3-year-old daughter, I consulted another orthopedist who told me there has been no conclusive research on Pose Method Running, that she was familiar with it and saw no reason for me NOT to try it, but to stop immediately if I experienced hardware-related pain. 

Laura's left ankle, 2006. Hardware included since 1996.

I was never a real runner. I started running in 2001 because I was about 35 pounds overweight, didn't want to be overweight, and well, desperate times call for desperate measures. I was one of the slowest runners I knew and honestly could not run with anyone because I could not keep up. To motivate me to run, I would enter 5k races, because I knew if I paid the entry fee, I would train for it. I remember getting a postcard from one of the races, thanking me for participating and telling me my stats. "There were 24 women in your age category. Your place in rank was... 24." Thanks. Thanks for that.

I remember my husband telling me at the time, "It's OK honey! You did great! And you came in ahead of all those other women who never bothered to get off the couch." Ah, I love that man.

Before I stopped running five years ago, my best 5k time was down to a blazing 30 minutes, averaging about 9:40 per mile. Fast forward to today. I started running about two months ago using minimalist running shoes and following Coach Aubyn's instructions, trying to apply the Pose technique. The result?

I ran a 5k two weeks ago and I had no pain, even a week later. I was hardly even sore aside from general fatigue. But the best part was that I ran it in 28:24, averaging 9:09 per mile. It was so stunning, I felt I almost needed to run it again just to make sure the time was accurate.

And here's where the metamorphosis part fits in: First thing tomorrow morning, I'm going to go run four miles on the Coronado beach. It will be cold, and probably raining. 

And the inner argument begins:

Pre-athletic, things-happen-to-me me: "Are you insane?? You're going to get out of a warm bed on a cold rainy morning, not just to get coffee and crawl back into bed, but get up to go run? Four miles? On the sand? Are you kidding me? With nothing large chasing you, forcing you to do this insane thing?"
Post-2001, I-make-things-happen me: "Dude! You should do this! You will not feel more alive and grateful for the ability to run and breathe than in that moment in the cold and wind when you push yourself to do better than you thought you could."
Pre-athletic, things-happen-to-me me: (squints) "Who AAARE you??"

I've totally morphed into that person who used to scare me. Funny, she's really not so scary.