I’ve never been the athletic type. Sports were something other people did, although I have to admit, in my head I was a super athlete. My mental imagery included runs down the intermediate slopes in Vail, Colorado, lobbing those tennis balls at record speeds across the net in Flushing Meadows, rock climbing in Montana, and riding the most beautiful steeds at a dude ranch in Wyoming. That’s right I am a super outdoors enthusiast and athlete in my mind.
Suffice to say, I am a weekend warrior. In my later years, I’ve grown to love the game of golf, and do participate in a women’s golf league. I’ve recently joined a running club, why I can’t fathom, because to be perfectly honest, I’ve never been a fan of running. The running club is divided into two camps, one for the novice runner and the other consisting of a more advanced group. At the end of an 8 week training period, there is a one mile race.
Every week, or I should say most weeks, after work I drag myself to the track, to meet up with the other runners. I’m sure you are wondering why I chose the verb “drag” to describe my seemingly lack of enthusiasm by that word choice. Drag is definitely applicable because in spite of all of the hype about the endorphin rush you are supposed to achieve by running, my endorphins are nowhere to be found.
The running coach has a plan. We start off walking two laps around the high school track, and then run a prescribed amount of time which is increased each week; For example, three minutes of running, one minute of walking to recover, two minutes of running, followed by one minute of walking and so on. With less than three weeks to the big run, we are up to 15 minutes of running, one minute of recovery, followed by 10 minutes of running, followed by one minute of recovery, eight minutes of running, followed by one minute of recovery, two minutes of running, followed by one minute of recovery, another two minutes of running followed by one minute of recovery, and ending with two one minute running sessions with one minute of recovery in between. Whew! We are also instructed to supplement our weekly practice with running homework in order to build up our endurance.
As I trek around the track I can’t help but notice my fellow runners. To my surprise, even the most advanced runners came in all sizes, shapes and ages. Believe it or not most of the runners fall into the Baby Boomer age range which spans an 18 year period from 1946 to 1964. To be perfectly honest, I am not surprised. Baby boomers are not the ilk of our parents’ generation. According to the statistics, 59% of Baby Boomers track their weight, diet or exercise, 34% participate in moderate physical activity at least 12 times a month, although 52% do report a sedentary lifestyle with minimal to no physical activity. Considering there are 78 million Baby Boomers, those statistics are impressive.
As I did my running homework on the treadmill, I felt a twinge in my left knee. The twinge turned into discomfort and then pain. Oh no! I lowered the mph on the treadmill and the pain subsided; I was able to finish my homework. This past Wednesday, I went to the running club practice and discussed this recent chain of events with my coaches. I decided to take it slow and it worked. The first 15 minute run went without incident. The one minute recovery was a breeze. The next 10 minute run was wonderful. I had my music in synch with each step. It’s amazing how music soothes the savage beast and in this case mimics those illusive endorphins. As I rounded the last 30 seconds of the 10 minute run I stepped down on my left foot and immediately my left knee roared its presence. Can I work through the pain? I tried but my knee did not cooperate. I began to walk and thankfully the pain in my knee ebbed. Not wanting to be a quitter but paying attention to my body, I walked the rest of the drill. I conferred with my coaches and discussed the best next steps. Ice my knee when I get home, get fitted with new sneakers as it was determined that my sneakers had neutral soles which, depending on my stride, may not offer enough support, and finally investigate using a knee brace which would provide additional support.
I went home and elevated and iced my knee, went on Amazon.com and ordered a patella brace also known as a knee brace and tonight I am going to the runner’s store to be fitted for new sneakers. To tell you the truth I am shocked by my behavior. I thought given these circumstances I would be jumping for joy by this unforeseen turn of events which is through no fault of my own. After all, my mind was willing but my body was not. I could now quit without guilt because I tried. Who would have envisioned that I actually like the challenge of something new, something physical, something involving running?
I am optimistic that the brace, new sneakers and slowing my pace will enable me to continue my preparation and participation for the one mile race. If you believe you can achieve and I am certainly a believer. I’ve adopted all of the determination and drive of the LITTLE RED TRAIN storybook that was a staple for many of us Baby Boomers, “I think, I can, I think I can” which morphed into “I thought I could, I thought I could” and he did!
I’ll keep you posted.