"There's only one hard and fast rule in running: sometimes you have to run one hard and fast."

Thursday, June 27, 2013

In Dolor, Veritas

The Walton/Clov Moment

NBA hall-of-famer Bill Walton always had problems with his feet. Early in his career, when he was limping badly and they needed him to just finish a game, they sprayed his feet with ethyl chloride, which evaporates on contact and numbs the area. He felt a weird sensation and asked what it was; it wasn't just that it felt cold, it was something he didn't understand. After a few worried moments, they realized that what he felt was "absence of pain." His feet had hurt for so long that he didn't know they shouldn't hurt, that other people don't spend every moment with their feet hurting.

I had a pair of those Adidas (smaller size, of course)!
Reading the works of Samuel Beckett, I keep seeing characters who have accepted living under horrific conditions. For example, in "Endgame:"
  • Hamm - unable to stand and blind
  • Clov - servant of Hamm; unable to sit.
  • Nagg - Hamm's father; has no legs and lives in a dustbin.
  • Nell - Hamm's mother; has no legs and lives in a dustbin next to Nagg.
Whether things keep getting worse slowly and you don't notice the changes, or there's a cataclysm and you realize that there's no going back, you can accommodate yourself to almost anything. At the end of the play, Clov does something about the situation [don't want to spoil the play any more than that]; I think he's the only Beckett character that ever sees his situation for what it is.

This is what goes through my mind while rehabbing injuries. (Down to ten now!)
My left heel last year; the right one's worse.

One method I've been using to repair my heel problems is myofascial release. I was using my fingers to do it until I nearly dislocated my thumbs and found a better way, by using a golf ball. As much pressure as possible is applied to places where scar tissue has formed in cartilage; in my case, there's calcification, so I'm essentially breaking bone and then grinding it down so that the body can reabsorb it. It's excruciating - after all, it is breaking bone. When doing it, I have screamed, I have cried, I have done anything I could to get through it.

And it's working!

There are times when my right heel doesn't hurt and I'm amazed. I don't automatically limp or go down steps both-feet-on-each-step. There are things I can do that I couldn't do before and things I can do without pain that I couldn't do without pain before. I'm starting to remember what it's like to not hurt all the time.


The question of where I'm headed has led me to realize that I've always been a 3rd class runner, not talented, but able to force myself to the limits of my ability to beat some much better runners when they had an off day. According to the USATF age-class grading, I was actually a "national-class" runner in my 20's (!), but finding the corresponding times for me now, my best possible times would be:

1 Mile in 5:15 (Last done in 2003)
5K in 18:00
10K in 38:00 (Last done in 1999)
Marathon in 3:00:00 (Last done in 1985!!!)

That's not going to set the world on fire. My best bet would be what I did decades ago - hope to catch people training through a race on a technical course in bad weather and hunt for third-place over-50 awards in races small enough they shouldn't have that many awards.

[And if my Latin's right, the title is: In pain, there is truth.]


Robyn said...

You could always go back to the summiting-Minnesota-peaks project. It sounded like loads of fun.

Glad to hear some of the old wounds might be healing.

Dale Jamieson said...

Has it always been this way for you, Steve?

The fact that you've shared this helps me tremendously because I'm at a cross roads here.

I have a labral tear in my right hip which is only the latest injury of 15 or so I've had since I took up running.

I'm starting to think it's the running? Or better put my body is not meant to run?