This last month has been a hugely enlightening/educating/encouraging one for me in my still-young running life.
Background: 3 years ago this month I ran my first race since Grade 9 X-Country - the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon. I hobbled through in 5:21, with brutal blisters from cotton socks and cotton underwear.
Since then, I've completed a Spartan Race, another marathon, a 45hr Death Race, learned about Pose Running, DNF'd a hundred mile ultra, PR'd another marathon, a 34 hr Winter Death Race, a GoRuck Challenge, DNF'd the 2012 Death Race, finished Tough Mudder in top 5%, completed a 50 mile ultra and won the Team Death Race in Killington, VT. Throw in a handful of 5k and 10k races, some great canoe trips, and lots of fun training adventures and it has been quite a couple of years :)
And Now: The 50 mile Haliburton Ultramarathon, September 8th, was a muddy, slippery affair. I never fell or even rolled my ankle, but came out of it with a nasty, persistent sprain. I Rested/Iced/Compressed/Elevated, but it would not go away. I went to see my chiropractor, Andrew Westelaken, who has done a spectacular job holding my body together through all of this abuse, and he sent me upstairs to Back to Function physiotherapy. Carly, the physiotherapist, was fantastic, identifying that, although my pain is on the right side, it is all related to the left side on my body not moving properly. She gave me several exercises as well as instructions as to what to look for while I run. I went for an 8km run that afternoon and WHAM - I could absolutely feel how I have been running incorrectly all along. All of my bunion pain and 5th metatarsal stress fracture and sprain problems made total sense!!
What's Next: So, this coming Sunday I will get about 26,000 chances to practice the proper foot strike as I complete my 4th straight STWM. Then two weeks worth of physio to prepare for my biggest challenge so far, the Rim to Rim to Rim run - from the South Rim of the Grand Canyon to the bottom, across the Colorado River, all the way up to the top of the North Rim, then back down, across and up again. All in one day. It is only 50 miles but it is STEEP! Plus the temperature goes from freezing at the start to 100F in the middle and back down again.
I know that my ankle will not be fully recovered before the start of this run, and will likely be shredded completely by the end (lots of tape and ibuprofen), so I am also looking forward to rounding out 2012 with a couple of months of proper rest, physiotherapy, and very light training runs focused entirely on form.
Then 2013! Even bigger, bolder adventures to come (though the two HUGE ones on my radar are for early 2014 - stay tuned!).