There’s an old saying or story (one that I use occasionally) about the surest sign of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different result. It’s akin to the proverbial “knocking your head against the wall.” This was one of my reactions to my recent run at the Virginia Beach 1/2 marathon. Previously, I posted (“Running Legends“) about the good things about that race – being with my niece, dinner with Frank Shorter and my law partners, and meeting Jim & Anne Ryun. I mentioned also the not-so-good aspects of that race: the heat and humidity and my lack of preparation. I have not, until now, talked about my lower back pain or hitting my head against the wall.
Even if I’d like to whine about the weather for the Virginia Beach race (yeah, I know @bigbiggeek, Alabama must be even worse), I wasn’t trained for 13.1. What i am somewhat pleased with about my race was i managed myself well. i knew my conditioning and i generally understood what i could do and what was likely not in the cards. so i set out slower than usual, found a pace for that day and interspersed walking breaks. i finished without incident on a day with difficult weather even if it was my slowest time. i say without incident, but during the last two miles my lower back began to ache somewhat – thus, the reason for this post. (I know, you were wondering if I’d get to that.)
Despite having some success in losing weight and learning to cover long distances with running shoes, I’m still not a small guy (no one mistakes me for a runner) and I certainly not a fast runner (most of my marathons have been right around 5 hours). Therefore, I need to keep a relatively large frame upright for a long time in a marathon, or even a 1/2 marathon. At the Chicago Marathon, held on 10-10-10, I was struck at Mile 19 with locking IT bands, which kept me on the course much longer (my slowest marathon time). For the last 3 or 4 miles my lower back ached – getting progressively worse. This came back to me as I was finishing the Virginia Beach Half – the same pain.
I should not be surprised. The problem with my training (exercising) is all I do is run – and generally run at the same pace. I did some hills last week, but I rarely do intervals, fartleks, tempo runs, or even hill workouts – and I rarely do any core or resistance training. So, if you do the same thing, you should expect the same results – hence, lower back pain maybe the rule unless I stop banging my head against the wall.
Being on a journey means you have not come to the end. Just because I published a book about my “journey of running and faith” does not mean that I am finished learning and developing as a runner, just as it means as a Christian I continue to mature as a disciple. So, I made some decisions – I deferred my full marathon and will aim only to have a good (13.1) run at the Richmond Marathon. More importantly, I will change-up my training by adding intervals, hills, etc. and I will begin a regimen focused on strengthening my core and try to drive away future back pain. (All of which will give me plenty of material for future posts. I ask my atheist or skeptical friends to wish me well in this endeavor. My Christian friends know I can’t do it alone, so I ask for their prayers.)