Friday, July 2, 2010

Nervous, neurotic or necessary?

Each Canada Day, the Kingston running community holds the Limestone Mile, a nice little mile race that loops around a few blocks of downtown Kingston, finishing up infront of city hall. I was due to run in this race, but pulled out half an hour before. The reason was that my hamstring was feeling a little suspect and, 4 days before I race on the west coast in the PacifiCanada Track and Field Series, I did not want to damage it any further.

Now, this hamstring was sore from a workout a earlier in the week in which I had dropped some 200s faster than I ever have before. Coupled with the fact that I have been working on opening up my stride while going fast, I have been working my legs a little harder than usual. So despite an easy day the day before, my hamstring was a little achy on the morning of the race. Such a feeling as this is always difficult to diagnose as easy running does not cause any noticable pain, but you fear to go faster in case of something pulling suddenly. Runners (as I am often told), are a little neurotic in that all they think of when they are running is how they are feeling physically (and sometimes mentally). Thus, they can be a little hypersensitive and tend to always find something wrong with themselves. There is also the suggestion that such a feeling of an oncoming injury and the fear to push it may stem from nerves, especially those which may come during the advent of such races as I will be in next week. "Feeling injured" may be an defense mechanism: to provide a suitable excuse if things don't go well or it may be a coping mechanism: to take one's mind off the job ahead. Both of these suggestions do have merit, and I can understand how such ideas may come about. (I must note that the runner's lot is a mental struggle: bearing the loneliness of many solitary miles, balancing between "training and straining" during workouts, the releasing of months' worth of excitement and energy into a few minutes of a race, and finally the reduction of oneself to a few numerical digits on a results sheet for all to see and compare.) However, I have also come to believe that at such levels of training and racing, one is constantly skirting a fine line between top performance and the oblivion of injury. Maybe riding this edge is necessary to be at peak fitness. Perhaps I have been flirting with this edge a little too close in recent days but maybe it bodes well for next week? (Or maybe this is just another mental ploy to convince myself that everything will be alright!)

In any case, I ran today...I did a fartlek (a swedish term for "speed play") which involves changes of pace throughout a medium-long run. The hamstring felt fine and continues to feel alright a few hours later as I write this blog. Hopefully the day off I took yesterday and a little prayer was enough to see this issue through! Knock on wood!

As for this race series next week....I shall blog about it tomorrow as this one is becoming a little long! In short: I fly to Vancouver tomorrow, race a 1500m on Monday and Wednesday and then an 800m on Friday. The races are packed out the hizzang (a colloquial term used by hip youngsters meaning: "really full") with elite milers from around the world - providing me with my first taste of the milieu that I intend on becoming most comfortable in!

I would be remiss (and certainly in for a couple well placed punches) if I did not mention that at the Limestone Mile my sister came 2nd in the women's race and my mother came 5th overall (and first in her age group). While some of us were agonizing over the nerves, neurotics and necessity of a possible injury (and then blogging all about it), others were out there getting the job done!
Ciao for now!
Be easy.

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