Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Not running, just groaning

A little over three weeks ago I decided I was going to run a 5k in October. This would mean a lot of training as I was in 5k-walk shape but not 5k-run shape. I promised  running updates.

I found a map of the course and the very next day I did the entire course. I walked most of it, but I started the interval training that had worked so well for me six years ago doing short spurts of jogging to gain strength and stamina.

By the end of that first run/walk, I was a full of emotional contradictions. As I wrapped up after pushing myself, all I could think was: Running sucks. But it's so awesome.

I was ready to do it all again.

Then disaster struck.

Okay, maybe not disaster, but it is painful and it is keeping me from running.

I've injured or aggravated the muscles in my lower back the first week I was back to teaching. Standing on a cement floor in crappy shoes (honestly, you'd think that we would have evolved to be able to stand flatfooted without any shoe-support, but nope, crappy flat-as-pancakes dress flats are more pain than promise).

During week one of The Pain In The Back Saga, my back seized while I was trying to get off the couch where I thought I'd been calmly resting and relaxing my poor, battered body. Nope. Not resting. Having a muscle seize is a bit like localized electrocution. There's pain, then the muscle stops moving. I'm told by athletic trainer types that this is known as "muscle guardianship," your body's means of preventing  you from doing any more injury to already injured or aggravated muscles. Yes, I have muscle guardians! The moniker is way cooler than the reality.

The reality was that there was no one else home to help me at the time. Since I'd been trying to stand when the muscle went into guardianship, I was now in a position where going back to sitting wasn't an option. Instead I wiggled. I managed to get myself flat on my back on the couch, then used my legs and arms to roll off onto my hands and knees. Once on the floor, I could use my legs to get myself into a standing position.

The whole thing is quite funny in retrospect -- I think it would be terribly funny to watch a video of me wiggling around without moving my back/stomach muscles -- although at the time, the experience was tinged with terror. Namely the fact that as I was alone, it wasn't like I could just holler for help until someone gave me a hand and/or put my sad ass into a gurney and cart me off to the doctor.

It's been going on for almost three weeks now. Some days are better than others. Some days I'm smarter than others. When I had a bad flare up, relapse, not-quite-a-guardian-muscle-but-you-can-bet-I-was-afraid-it-would-turn-out-that-way incident, I finally stopped taking ibuprofen sporadically to cope with the pain and started taking it methodically to address the inflammation.

It's made me appreciative of the ease of movement I usually have. Simple tasks like laundry and vacuuming become giant mountains of pain and tall spiky shards of stress. I start humming that "there's so many things your hands back can do" tune that's used in the Delta faucet commercial which might be a Sesame Street original* every time I twist, turn, bend, list, sway, reach, lean, and rollover.

It's also made me really appreciate of the headboard on my bed; more than one time, the only reason I've been able to roll over without sipping from that long, cold, drink of pain is by hanging on to the headboard and using my arms to rotate my body. ... I have to have been hilarious to watch for the past few weeks.

* (I have no proof of where the original came from and if it really is a Sesame Street original or a Sesame Street remake, but I did find a recording of Jerry Nelson as Count von Count singing the full song.)

Highly Recommended