One Mile At A Time

Navigational Art By Colleen Yorke, © 2015
Injuries are the pitfalls of every committed runner. No matter how careful we are, we probably all have experienced our share of running related injuries. Over the first shock of having to drop out of organized runs, aspired goals and race plans, and even daily rituals such as running from one metro station to the next to catch the train before our regular departure time, we feverishly work on our recovery. In my case this mainly consisted of rolling the injured foot over a chilled soda can, bandaging it with kinetic tape (KT), walking around with arch support, and shifting to low-impact exercise and swimming. 

For days the pain persists, nothing seems to help. And advice from non-runners to stop running altogether, although well-meant, is certainly not what we want to hear. Some of us, itching to take our frustrations out onto the road, will lace up their running shoes, determined to run, even if it is just a mile. We discover the hard way that we. just. can't. do. it. After a distance hardly worth mentioning, we limp back, hoping no one ever saw our sad minute-long undertaking. 

We are creatures of habit. We engage in tried and tested ways. Changing them can prove quite a challenge. As we run and feel the placement of our feet on the ground, are we landing on the heel of the foot, the midsection or the ball? We often are unaware of where we are standing. Surprised by unexpected circumstances we suddenly are forced to pay attention to the steps we take. Overcoming the fear of running, the fear of being injured again, is the first step most of us will have to take. Observing how our foot contacts the ground, we begin by walking. And walking more. Then we hike 10 miles, reaching more than 2,000 feet of altitude. That becomes 17.4 miles. With gratitude we register the soft-sanded trails and spectacular views from atop. 

No one can tell us how long the recovery process takes. For my first try-out runs, I accepted a charity challenge "to make every mile count". Touching down about 800 times per mile, my feet paced along trails, three minutes behind my average pace, seven miles in total. Three days and 21 miles later, I rejoined the Downtown Running Group on their street adventures through the heart of Los Angeles. 

While it is still a long road to full recovery, I am grateful for every mile and for those special friends, who run by our side at our pace.