Back on My Feet has dual meaning–my running team in Philadelphia and my return to the trails after a nagging hip injury. This morning’s slow two-mile run down Broad Street with my buddy Andrew was my first since I fell on the ice in December. After more than forty years on the trails, fourteen marathons and countless other races, I never thought a two-mile run could be so exciting.
This was the longest I’ve gone without running since my last knee surgery more than five years ago, and I was reminded of how impatient a patient I am. Approaching my sixtieth, I’m afraid to stop because I know how long it takes to get back into condition. So I look to the positive.
I’ve become more committed to yoga and am more flexible than I’ve been my entire life. I cycle more which strengthens the quadriceps and hamstrings. And I began an unplanned rehab program–rehabbing houses in the city. Sound crazy?
Rehabbing houses isn’t a training routine you will find in popular running literature. But at its core, rehabbing houses requires carrying eighty-pound bags of concrete up and down stairs, mixing mortar, lifting drywall, climbing ladders, and other forms of strenuous physical labor. It’s similar to the approach I described in My Blue-collar Marathon Training Program that appeared in Runner’s World in January. In the article I wrote:
“As a shipyard foreman working on aircraft carriers, I would climb ladders hundreds of feet high every day. Up and down and up I would climb—seven levels down from the hanger deck to the tanks below and 13 decks up to the top of the mast. The only way to inspect the three-feet-high water and oil tanks in the bottom of the ship was to walk hundreds of feet in a squatted position, which strengthened my legs and glutes like no program that even the most sadistic personal trainer could devise. I would climb into a pressure vessel through an 18-inch manhole to weld metals pre-heated to 400 degrees. It was the ultimate extreme heat endurance conditioning. Suddenly it hit me—my job had been my training program.”
So that’s the formula I used for this rehab: yoga, cycling and manual labor. Now I need to put in the miles and get to that first ultra by the end of 2014.