I ran for the fourth time in four months today, which was also the fourth time in ten days. Bella, my golden retriever, joined me on a five-mile trail run. She shared time between the trail and the creek. I stayed on dry land.
Ten days ago was the first time I ran pain-free since December. Two days later I ran again. When I told my daughter, a clinical exercise physiologist, she said, “Dad, what are you nuts? You’re rehabbing an injury that prevented you from running for four months, and then after your first pain-free run you go out two days later.” Thank God I have her, because she’s right. So the next two times I worked my cardio I hopped on my bike and took hard fifteen-mile rides. Now, one week later, I’m running hills, lots of hills, and getting my stride and confidence back on the Wissahickon trail in Fairmount Park.
Lifetime runners like myself are well-versed in injury and rehab. Most of us have encountered sprains, meniscus tears, and the usual aches and pains caused by twenty-mile runs or tumbles down a hillside during a trail run. We rest, exercise, stretch, heal, and run again. When you hit sixty, that healing process is much slower than it was at, say thirty. But stop? Never!
I’ve tried every type rehab imaginable–outright inactivity, deep muscle massages, chiropractic care, and religious yoga. But it wasn’t until I began rehabbing houses in the city with my son that I found manual labor was the most effective physical rehab for my hip.
Rehabbing homes reminded me of My Blue-collar Marathon Training Program when I qualified for the Boston Marathon. The Blue-collar program was based on my life as a young shipyard worker who found the demanding routine of working on the waterfront was really endurance training for a marathon. Now, on any given day rehabbing homes I might be lugging washers, dryers, or eighty-pound bags of mortar up and down stairs; climbing ladders with a hawk full of plaster, tearing apart floors, walls and roofs, and throwing heavy contractor bags into a dumpster. After four months of frustration visiting chiropractors, orthopedic surgeons, having X-Rays and MRIs with no relief, the pain in my hip has subsided by virtue of the sanctity of sweat.