Who am I?

[Brief background. While in Scotland on a trail run in May of 2015 I fell and hit my left knee HARD on a rock.  Ended up with a big cut and nothing else….so I thought.  Since then the pain in my knee has been creeping up in intensity to the point of causing me to limp in the mornings or stop in the middle of my runs.  Over the last two months I finally did something about, seeing the orthopedist, getting an MRI, and having a surgical consult.  This post is about the next step psychologically, not physiologically]

She stated firmly, “Nobody wants to read a blog post about an injury”.  Like most things I realized Bridget was right (thats why I’ll marry her).  So instead of writing about acquiring a potentially life changing injury, I’ll write about the prospect of losing a significant part of my life.  Thats inspiring, right?

The last couple months my Strava page is beginning to look like that of a technophobe.  As my kudos numbers atrophy away I wonder what other people think.  Are they thinking that I’m doing “secret training” (pre-Strava, called training).  I imagine once a week, on a group run people asking aloud, “What happened to Matt Laye”.  However, in reality its more like off of Strava out of mind and thats the crux of my problem.  Without running, who am I?

I secretly hope that my cartilage is superhuman and unlike those of others which are incapable of repairing themselves, but deep done I am starting to come to grasp with my own mortality in a purely running sense.  Bone on bone lack of cartilage does not repair itself, it breaks down until you need a repair.  At the moment all repairs are temporary despite some amazing treatments being developed. I imagine no number of second opinions will make me insured for experimental treatments reserved for multi-million dollar athletes and those who live moment to movement with excruciating pain.  So, I’m again faced with the question, without running, what do I do?

Now that I live in Boise I have a number of ways to reinvent myself.  Amazing mountain biking trails, skiing 15 miles from my front door, rock climbing 20 minutes away, and even a triathlon scene that is welcoming and down to earth.  But on a day like today when I get back from work tired and beat down its always a run that beats that beer in the fridge (at least initially).  For the last 20 plus years its on the trail and the road on my two feet which helps troubles, seasons, and time pass effortlessly.  Its comforting, its familiar, so its not just who am I or what will I do that I ask, but what will I become.

I’m fascinated by self-improvement.  Devouring books like “The Willpower Instinct”, “The Power of Habit”, and “Mindset”. I listen to podcasts about happiness, so called deconstructing world class performers, and improving my teaching constantly in my ears.  So I know a beginners mindset is a good thing.  Trying new things, stretching yourself, and even failing all make you stronger. But yet even thinking about letting go of running, of that massively important part of my ego, source of happiness, friendships and successes, is downright terrifying regardless of the benefits I fully know and truly believe await me.

Filling the void left by running is so much more than finding a competitive outlet.  As my high school coach Brian Davis said, “running is not a sport, its a lifestyle” and its been my lifestyle for so long.  Hence if I was a runner, who am I now, and more importantly who will I become.  I know that feeling a void left by running includes try to come to grasp with Matt Laye the non-runner and coming up with a better blog subtitle than “Adventures in non-running by a scientist”.  For now know that I’m not secret training offline.

 

Hamstring Tendinopathy, a real pain in the…

Oh you thought you would win you silly hamstring injury, you thought you would go ahead stop me in the midst of my best training, racing, and most enjoyable block of running ever.  And you did for a good amount of time, but now I’ve figured you out and am ready to rid my life from you.

My hamstring issues had lurked in my mind and in my body for months until the Ice Age Trail 50 miler.  After Ice Age I recognized I had a problem, after Bay2Breakers that problem soon was serious.  So lets set the scene.  I’m having the best year of running.  A new half marathon PR, unbelievable 100 mile trail debut, and a 4 min marathon PR at Boston made it easy to ignore the hamstring.  I mean all that was required was a few easy miles to warm up and to stay away from running under 5 min pace.  Those problems seem trivial when training for marathons and beyond.  After Ice Age 50 mile there was no ignoring the pain though.  The pain was getting worse, not better, and even worse, I had Western States less than 2 months away.

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Head Case

Well, well, I can’t say I’m surprised.  I think this is the 4th blog I’ve started and almost the 4th that I quit.  But I’m not quitting, not yet. It’s not like I forgot to blog.  I thought about it a lot, but it’s hard to blog about running when you are not doing it.  I mean who wants to hear me whining about not running? Even my mom doesn’t want to read that*.

So let’s briefly summarize.  Coming off a marathon PR at Boston and a solid 50 miler at IAT I was preparing to run Western States. By the end of May I stopped running because of an upper hamstring injury….until about two weeks ago.  Okay that’s the simple story, and being injured is actually a lot more work than not being injured (I know this yet I still choose to neglect relatively easy preventative things).  I’ve actually been asked about my hamstring injury by several people and I know several more people that have had a similar infliction, so perhaps what I have to say could be useful…to someone…at sometime.  Hopefully it won’t be you.  I will write in a little more detail about what worked for me in my next post, but for now….

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Western States 2014 Race Report – DNS

Being injured always sucks.  Being injured right before a big race sucks even more.  Being injured right before a big race when a bunch of your friends are fit and ready to roll is the worst.  Right now I’m in the last position.  After finishing a 4 mile run this morning I think I have finally reached some form of enlightenment.  If your hamstring hurts and progresses to get worse after a 4 mile run you can’t run a 100 miles.  As much as I want to toe the line in Squaw and “gut” out a finish it just doesn’t seem to be in the cards.

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NBD: Injured with less than 30 days until Western

This was not how it was suppose to go.  I was suppose to recover from Ice Age and come back putting in my best training block of the year. I was supposed to be healthy & fit, toeing the line with the best 100 mile field in North America on June 28th in Squaw.  It was not suppose to be the time for my plantar fasciitis that I have been dealing with for more than 6 months to flair up, nor was it the ideal time for a manageable hamstring issue to move to a debilitating hamstring injury.  Yet that is where I find myself currently.

Stupidity is commonly defined as doing the same thing over and over expecting a different result.  The last few weeks I have been training stupidly; 2 days off, 1 run that hurts, 2 days off, another run that hurts.  I was expecting my body to heal itself without providing a novel stimulus to allow that to happen.  That’s not how physiology works, and I should know better.  After doing some self-diagnosing (always dangerous) combined with an some Active Release Therapy appointment (30 minutes and $185 later) I have an understanding of the problem.  It could be general tightness (manageable) or it could be an upper hamstring tendinopathy (6-12 weeks for recovery).

Regardless of the cause, the treatment is similar. There is a certain amount of relief in knowing what actions are necessary to remedy the problem.  It starts with diligent attention to my plantar issue, followed by eccentric strengthening of the hamstrings, combined with a bit of core work thrown in.  That is the action plan just to get healthy, but because I am not running I need to take an alternative approach to get fit.  Being injured is exhausting. Continue reading