Thursday, January 5, 2017

Born to run. Or at least I used to be.

I have long thought of myself as a runner. Some people don't think they're runners because they don't do marathons, or they "only" run two or three days a week.

Rule of thumb: If you get outside and run, or you hop onto a treadmill and run, you're a runner. If you cover even 10 feet more ground than a couch potato does, and even if you do it at a snail's pace but it's a running pace for you, then you're a runner.

Trust me, it's not some elite club you can't join.

Anyway, I run. For the past couple of years, the cadence of my running has been four days a week. Usually Saturday, Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

Most of my runs are 3 miles in length, over a fairly hilly course in my neighborhood. On Saturdays I'll often do a 5-miler over that same hilly course.

But lately there have been no 3-mile runs. There have been mostly 0-mile runs. Because I'm hurt.

99.99% of runners, at one point or another, get hurt. For some it's the joints. They tweak a knee or an ankle and have to sit out for a period of time. Then, once they're healed, they run again.

For me it's muscles. And specifically the muscles of my calves.

Over the past year, I've strained various muscles in both calves a total of nine times. That's according to my daily running log, which I've been keeping assiduously since 2001.

(NOTE: I thought of the word "assiduously" the other day for no reason at all, and now I get to use it in a blog post. Score.)

Actually, those calf strains have all happened over the past eight months. The problem being that I hurt one, I rest for a little while but not long enough, I go back out and try to run, and I hurt it again. Then I repeat that cycle.

Then that calf finally heals, and somehow the other one decides to tear. And I go back out, and I hurt it again, etc.

I'm in the middle of this insanity right now with my left calf, and I've been sticking to brisk walks, rather than runs, in an attempt to let it mend itself. This works for a while, but then I'll be out walking and think to myself, "The calf feels fine. I should run a mile or so to test it."

So I do. And for most of that mile it feels fine.

Then it suddenly doesn't. Because my calves hate me, and they delight in nothing more than letting me think I'm OK and then tearing themselves out of sheer spite.

This leads to a love-hate relationship with my calves. On the one hand, they're clearly trying to kill me, or at least drive me crazy, which makes me hate them. But on the other hand  and I'm going to be perfectly honest with you here  I have great calves.

No, really, it's one part of my body I actually like. My calves are genetically awesome. One time I remember walking back to the locker room after a football practice, and Vic Peroni was behind me and said, "Tennant, give me your calves!"

This is Vic Peroni, who was pretty ripped. The guy had muscle upon muscle, but my calves were the one area where I had him beat.

So as vain as it is to say, I have nice calves, and I tell them how nice they are all the time, yet they still choose to hate me. I feel like the parent of a criminal: I want to love them, but they continually disappoint me.

Anyway, I am, as I type this, once again sidelined by a left calf strain. I'm walking four days a week, and I've created what I hope is a sensible, patient recovery schedule that involves walking for the next few weeks, then a couple of weeks' worth of combined walking and light running, and eventually stepping up to a full running schedule again.

In the meantime, I can't run. And I hate that. I HATE that. I run for health and weight management and all, yes. But do you know the #1 reason I run?

Because I love running. I love the physical act of running. I love that, at the age of 47, when my calves cooperate, the rest of me is in sufficient condition to run several miles a week. The feeling of putting one foot in front of the other is my high. I don't really drink. I definitely don't do drugs. But I do run.

And right now I can't.

It's a terrible sort of withdrawal that manifests itself in the form of general fatigue and blah-ness. I'm addicted to the act of running, and right now I can't do it.

My advice to you: Do not become a middle-aged person if you can help it.


  1. Do you drink plenty of water? 1 gallon per day? If not, that may be part of it.

  2. I do not, and I know I should. Gotta start...

  3. hey scott have you ever tried spinning, can give you the same runners "high" and your calves wont get the beating from running. if you want to try my class let me know, it is amazing! it is called solsprint and it is in mentor, check it out. glad you are back blogging. my family says i dont read, but i do read your blogs :)

    1. I haven't, but I've heard great things about spinning. And for what it's worth, since this post was published at the beginning of the year, my calves have healed nicely and I've developed a quick but effective warm-up routine for them. So I'm back to running and will hopefully be able to stay with it for a long time!