It’s July 22nd 2011 and I’m standing at the top of Mount Fuji, the highest point in Japan, and experiencing one of those few truly momentous occasions that I’ll always look back on and say, “damn, that was a truly amazing day.” I’d just reached my peak, and I had no idea that I was about to take a humungas tumble back down.
Following Project Fuji, I discovered I had an injury. And not just any injury. This one, was one that wouldn’t get better with rest. It was something I was going to have to find a way to live with.
“Stop running!” I was told. To hell with that! “Well, you’ll have to find a way to run in a different way. No more heal striking.” Well, at least there was a second opinion.
So did begin what turned out to be a horrible 12 months of trying to find a way to run that didn’t hurt my ankle. And you know what? I did find a way. Barefoot, or as close to it as I could manage: minimalist in a pair of trusty Vibram Five Fingers KSO’s. I started in July 2012 and ever so gradually I managed to increase my distances until by September I was running 21kms on a weekend and completing my usual 7km midweek runs. All was rocketing along brilliantly… until my body went into total meltdown.
At first it was blisters. Then incredible pains in my feet, ankles, knees, and finally an Achilles Tendinitis that brought me to a complete stop. 10 weeks later, and I’ve finally completed two very cautious comeback 10 minute jogs. Comeback number 2 is on, now! I’m back up and running… sort of!
Coming back from injury is a weird and very stressful experience for any athlete. Mostly from a mental aspect. When I make a comeback from injury, I tread so lightly, run so slowly, and I can feel every little twinge in my body, fearing that they will develop into a total career ending injury. But an addict must run. And I am an addict.
Duff McKagan describes in his autobiography how he became friends with an ex World Champion Mountain biker who had an operation on his arteries resulting in a prosthetic being implanted, meaning he could no longer push himself to the limit. He subsequently spent all his days following, searching for a way to continue Bike riding – an addict. He went so far as having the prosthetic removed and replaced with a transplant. And you know what, he was able to ride again. Once it’s in your blood, it’s impossible to let it go. So I try try again.
This time I am trying a few things differently. I’m trying more of a whole of body approach, with strength and flexibility a core focus. I’m obtaining some professional advice, instead of always trying to figure things out on my own, and looking for more involvement in the community of running. I want to go on a journey, another one, and this time, take a whole lot of people with me! Will it work? I don’t know. But I’ve got to try. It’s in my blood. I’m an addict. I have no other option…