Wednesday, June 17, 2020

As Many Runners Know, Pain or Discomfort is a Running Companion

I've experienced a few injuries in my running career. One that occurred very unexpectedly was on the second day of my 2008 solo run across Montana. That was a 620-mile run in 20 days from the Great Plains at the North Dakota border to the Rocky Mountains at the Idaho border. On the second day of that endeavor, I sustained an injury to my left foot that would be something I would have to endure for the remaining 18 days while pushing "BOB" -- my "Beast Of Burden" stroller of gear, food and water weighing about 65 pounds.

Here is a part of what I wrote in my journal on April 29, 2008:
At around the 24 mile mark today I was pushing "BOB" up a considerable incline on my way to the Powder River. I wasn't experiencing any problems, but all of a sudden a tendon or ligament (to the best of my knowledge) at the top of my left foot pulled or strained... bringing me to a stop and making me scratch my head as to why this happened. I've pushed BOB over the Rocky Mountains, the Appalachian Mountains, and everywhere in between and have never had anything like this occur. However, today it happened and it brought me to a limp... I don't believe it is a stress fracture, but rather a tendon/ligament issue. I'll know more tomorrow. These types of things can happen and I'm certainly not Superman. Yes, I did run across America solo in 2006. However, I even battled a few injuries during that journey. Yet, none of them were serious enough to stop me. When faced with a situation like this it's important to stop and find out precisely what is happening, and that is what I'm going to do. You have to be smart and when the body is experiencing a problem and is not responding as it should, you need to find out why. Tomorrow I hope to do that.
Ultimately, I saw a sports medicine physician and had an x-ray performed. A tendon strain was identified and I resumed the Montana run the next day... averaging 32 miles per day for what remained of the journey (about 560 miles). Sure, there was pain/discomfort with each stride. However, I was determined to do the run. It required alternating ice and heat and scheduling more walking breaks, but I managed to accomplish the undertaking. There were even occasions when I iced the foot in snowbanks along the roadway!

Running across states and countries requires the ability to manage pain. To some degree, pain is always present. It is a constant running companion. Some days are worse than others and some days can bring you to tears. Regardless, I always pushed on and accomplished every running challenge I set for myself. In 2016 I retired from adventure runs. Now, at age 55, I am pleased with what I was able to achieve and have no permanent injuries that limit my life in any way. Thank goodness!

Keep Reaching For Life's Mileposts,

Paul Staso