Sunday, April 26, 2009

Running

Several years after leaving Heavener my ever increasing girth began to cause me concern. I was to the point of buying new trousers at a size I knew that only the seriously over-weight wore. I tried to eat less but that did not work at all, no one wants to be hungry all the time. I tried several diets that were in vogue at that time, some of them worked, but when the diet was over the weight came back, usually plus a little more poundage to remind me not to mess with Mother Nature. At about this time running and jogging was in fashion; why not give that a try.
This was in the winter and by the time I got home from school it was already dark, I could run in the dark but that would interfere with dinner. The one thing I did not want to do was to interfere with dinner. If I could not run at night I could run in the morning. Setting the alarm early enough to let me run and still have time enough to shower off before breakfast seemed the thing to do. It was dark out the next morning for my first run, but not so dark that I couldn’t see the road and the telephone poles along the way. My plan was to run from one pole to the next, then walk to the third, run to the fourth, walk to the fifth, and so on. When reaching the planned pole I turned around and repeated the process home. I do not now remember how many poles I ran, but I was pleasantly tired upon arriving back at the house. As time passed and my condition improved I added poles regularly. It wasn’t too long before I was running two poles and walking one, then finally I was running all the poles and not walking any.
One day at school a female student asked me if I was on a diet. I asked her why she asked that. She said that it looked like my clothes were fitting loosely. With that positive reinforcement I went to the store on Saturday morning and bought a pair of pants a full size less than those I could barely button the top button before beginning to run.
Spring came, and day light saving time, it became obvious that running after school was the right way to go. I ran on a highway with a wide shoulder that got me separation from traffic, and certainly away from the dust of the section line. Distances increased and it became obvious to me that the running had entered into a different phase; it was no longer about losing a few pounds. Runner’s World had an article describing long distance runners having runner’s high. Something else came at about the same time, a pain in my left foot. Aspirin took care of the pain for a while, but then the pain began making itself felt even when not running
The doctor could find no physical reason for the pain, he advised me to stop running. I sought a podiatrist and he told me one leg was longer than the other and his solution was a pair of inserts in my running shoes to balance the length of my legs, I bought them but they did not work. An orthopedic surgeon had me go to the hospital and have an MRI evaluation of my foot. It turned out that I had an arthritic cyst between my toes and ankle just behind the big toe joint. On the MRI pictures the cyst looked like a white void, almost ping pong ball sized, in the bone behind my big toe. The doctor told me the cure was to go into my foot, clean out the cyst, and staple the bones of the metatarsals together taking out that joint from my foot. After the surgery the doctor told me not to run on any hard surface like concrete, or asphalt, and to not run on anything for six months. The bones would grow over the staples (three) and it would no longer be a joint, but fairly strong. Once the cast was taken off no pain has been felt from that foot.
Fearful of breaking down my new joint I have not run a step in over thirty years. Abandoning runner’s highs to younger runners it is now difficult to remember what they felt like, if I actually felt anything. Now I go to a health club and work out. Coming home tired and sweaty I do feel good that my body is better for what I have just done.

3 Comments:

At April 27, 2009 at 12:03 AM , Blogger Chuck Hudlow said...

I enjoyed reading about your running experience, Coach. It reminded me of how my oldest daughter got "hooked" on running. I say hooked, because that's what it seemed to me. She started out just running with some of her girl friends to 'tone' her body. She was married and had two daughters in elementary school at the time.

From that beginning, she started running further and further and she finally joined a running club (which I didn't know existed). She would mention the "high", that you spoke of, often. As years past, she began running in marathons (the full 26.2 miles). She ran in the Marine Marathon in Washington D.C., one in Big Sur (California), and several in Austin and Dallas. Her Mom and I would often go watch her run...or at least wait for her at the finish line.

She's now in her 40's and still runs whenever she can. However, her marathon days are over.

 
At April 27, 2009 at 9:39 AM , Anonymous Bob Collins said...

Chuck, I am no expert on any subject but it seems that long distance running can stimulate the brain to release hormones called endorphins that are pain killing and tranquilizing which cause the euphoric feeling called a runner's high. I understand your daughter.
Bob

 
At April 27, 2009 at 2:53 PM , Blogger Glen Lazalier said...

I miss running! But with both knees shot, the best I can do is a fast walk. The high was real---I ran in the dark each morning before going to the office and it really set my day up right.

 

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