Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Run soft, sunbathing sports-action couch jockeying hard: the Broken Foot story.

This post is C- quality piece of writing trying to reconcile my desire to not suck with complete sucking: a summer squandered with injury and useless lethargy. Go on at your own risk.


-in video: My attempt at proper running technique. notice the calm upperbody, soft footfalls, good hip engagement, etc.

Marlon Webb + friends demonstrate perfect running technique:

I've done everything, video analysis, coaching, basework, speedwork, physical therapy, acupuncture, meditation, more salt, less salt, etc. Someday I hope to become a good runner, but for now that goal lies out of reach. Questions or comments are welcome. I think what could really help is running with the same grace and beauty as Marlon. This post goes out to all the h8ters who doubted I could run gracefully.

     But really I am a wannabe ultrarunner, like so many other suckas. I know it will make me suck at climbing. I know I already suck at climbing. I know in all probability that I will suck at running too, but I really want to be able to say "I've run (x) distance, and it wasn't even hard, in fact I did it before breakfast just to make sure I was burning fat.", "I do it everyday", "for fun", etc. Actually I don't want to go around talking about running, I was just addicted to the high (of actual participation in actual running) for some reason. I say some reason because I have been away from running long enough to fully appreciate that it is both heinous and boring, and I am VERY bad at it.

I've run as cross training for nordic, and later for alpine climbing, since I was maybe 13. Recently, I started running a lot, and actually prioritized it over most else. I got a job as a solar installer, and all the heavy lifting made it impossible to recover from climbing workouts. But I wanted to have my cake and **** it too. So I kept climbing, and kept getting more sore. In the end I had to take a break. Usually when I pick up a new activity it's because I get injured climbing and have to take a step back from my oppressively singular focus. Such was the case here.
A solar installation near Hat Butte, WY. a forest fire now rages at this location.

As the summer came around I set the goal of finishing a 100k. This is an imbecilic goal because the farthest I had run (and not in a race) previously was about 55k. I didnt have time to improve my base very much. I wanted to do the Beaverhead, which follows the CDT on a wonderful ridgeline on the montana/idaho border near Salmon.

From April - June I was running alot, and was even 2nd overall in a trail marathon, the Run the Red in the sand and heat of southern WY's Red Desert.

a few weeks later I did the "Sinks Canyon Rough and Tumble",  a 58k trail race with lots of hills in sinks canyon. This was meant to be a warm-up a few weeks prior to the beaverhead.  I started the race with a stiff ankle and, I would later determine, a weak side-butt. We will thusly trace a chain of causal connection from the weakness of sidebutt to a broken foot.

Yes, the side-butt, a technical term. All things are connected, and it happens that the side-butt is connected to the hip, and the hip is connected to the IT band, and that's connected to the knee, which is connected to the ankle, which is connected in turn to the foot, which is connected to the ground 10s of 1000s of times on any given distance run.

(many of the runners I know have IT band syndrome, which is very often a result of weak side-butt, and the resultant poor hip alignment.)

A weak sidebutt leads to poor alignment and IT band reliance. IT band reliance leads to inflammation in the hip and knee, which leads to poor running form. poor running form leads to ankle rolls. a lightly sprained but ignored ankle the week previously leads to ankle guarding and heavy mid-foot strikes. 1 heavy midfoot strike times ~99999 repetitions leads to a stress fracture in a bone that I did not know even existed:

The Cubiod.

the cuboid leads to the dark side...

but actually the whole thing is really stupid. I shouldn't have started the race at all because my ankle was stiff at the start line. My pacing strategy was utter bullshit. There was a cash prize for the first person up fairfield hill, a 700m climb. I buried myself up this, beating a NOLS intern who was a way better runner than me (with many wins to his credit.) my plan was to go survival pace after this. I even worried that this was some kind of big joke to bait idiots like me into starting at suicide pace. In the end they did pay out, but it was not even remotely worth it. It doesn't matter what pace you go, if you've blasted your stabilizers and then try to run another 45k on rocky terrain, the consequences will be injury. Like alot of mistakes and accidents, along the way numerous oppurtunities to avoid the seemingly unaviodable will present themselves, but our eyes, ears, and our deeper intuitions seem to be untuned to the subtle cues that truly matter.

At several aid stations I asked people if they thought it was a flesh wound and I could still finish. I had a bias that it was just a light ankle sprain, taped it, took ibuprofen, let others reinforce my bias, and continued. I did everything except listen to my body.  By the time I did that my foot was screaming "broken" with even the lightest step, but I was on single track on national forest and had no aid stations remaining. I could run on my toes and avoid the pain. We weren't allowed to run with music, so as I finished my only entertainment was a repeating self dialogue.

I repeated a mantra: "you broke your fucking foot", "you will deal with the consequences", "just finish", and "now you have no choice". grade A motivational poster shit.

I could dive into running again, but I don't think I will. There are enough hipster "ultrarunners" in this world, and I'm not sure if I want to make the sacrifices required just to run without injury, let alone to be good. I could lose 20 pounds, be a (uselessly) weak climber, but develop great running form and train and race alot of volume with very little risk or worry of injury. The wonderful thing about trail racing is that you can push yourself pretty hard. The worst case scenario is that you pass out on course. Someone will probably help you. If you do that on an alpine route you will die, or you will give your partners a good chance of death as they attempt to care for you, and themselves.  In alpine climbing, you have a responsibility to climb safely. But from the endurance sports perspective, you also have a responsibility to never really push yourself. If you don't have alot left in the tank then you're doing it wrong. Of course some might say that this is where the magic happens, when there's a chance that you won't come back. I believe this isn't true, and I avoid climbing partners who push themselves that hard.

Alternately,  I could run moderate distances, favoring uphills and wilderness loops, for fun and for fitness, without ever striving for some arbitrary distance or time that makes you a "good runner".

Heres whats happened in the immobile meantime:
Mara and I made blueberry pies.
Mara made the pie part with fresh blueberries, cinnamon and nutmeg,
I made the crust and lattices.
1st attempt on left, rp on right.
Detail: blueberry pie. My second attempt at a lattice.
as yet unnamed cat, offspring of the manx kitty.
name? probably female. 
I couln't climb at the Lander International Climber's Fest, so I went to a writer's clinic. My overwhelming conclusion is that I should write more. Also that filling a blog with introspective word vomit is not only okay, it is probably an important part of becoming a better writer.
toproping 10c at wild iris in a cripple boot.

Nick Merritt as Golem at the natural bridge. The whole cave really is this small. There is no potential. don't come here, ever. AND DEFINATELY DONT INVITE STRONG FRONT RANGE CLIMBERS.
I need the time and space to send my epic roof-crawing mega proj.

throwback, Hanson Smith climbs naked at thunder ridge. we all got naked and sharpended it up.
I'm almost done with another epic postmodern novel, Gravity's Rainbow.
It'll be the second such journey that Hanson has recommended to me.

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