|Victor Ofstein's Running Profile Page reply
Profile: I discovered that Victor was a true running brother one early Friday morning soon after he joined the running club. We were running the triple hill, a course that has been known to terrify even the most accomplished runners. As we finished the second grueling hill, I decided to tease him by telling him that what we had just finished was nothing compared to what was yet to come. As he gasped for air, he just plowed straight ahead and yelled "bring it on" and a legend was born. His goal was to run his first marathon in Tiberius January 2008. Due to a running injury in November 2007 he has been forced to push his debut marathon off until 2009 but he is back and will be there for the Jerusalem half.
|| 48:54 (Tel Aviv 2008)
|| 1:41 - Bet Shean 2008
|| 3:46 - Tiberias 2009
Post: January 3, 2008
Rite of Passage
As of writing this piece, I am near the end of a recovery period from a minor muscle injury, not minor enough however to cost me three full weeks of running, the end of a two year stretch which saw no more than 72 hours maximum break between runs, and most significantly, my readiness to run a first marathon.
On a gorgeous Friday morning, November 19th 2007, I completed a glorious 32km run in 2 hours and 55 minutes. This was my longest run yet, and was supposed to set me up for a two month training runway to be ready for the Tiberius marathon. At the end of the run, I was feeling a sharp muscular pain in my lower left shin.
The Monday night training run and a trip to the physio confirmed my fears as I was unable to "run through it". He instructed me not to run until I could feel no more pain there, and then build up again slowly.
For a few days I sulked, tried to run (stupid), sulked again and was generally no fun to be with. Aside from costing me the invaluable time on the marathon training schedule and therefore my place, more worrying to me was the psychological setback of "being injured" and having to go cold -turkey from running for at least three, possibly five or six weeks!
My obsession with running began about three years ago and is not a unique story. 34 years old, and having just stepped off a transatlantic flight, having eaten and drunk far too much, I felt terrible - the type of terrible that emphasizes the difference between how old you feel, and how old you want to feel. This was to be the turning point that would motivate me. I craved feeling fit again. I had been in relatively good shape until my early twenties, at which point the clichéd work/married/no time excuses replaced any regular exercise. So, I hit the stores, bought myself some running gear and resolved to run each day until I felt better.
For the first couple of years I set myself very small and achievable targets. Running 5km/day 6 days a week became my norm - the excess weight fell off (from 200 lbs to a steady 179lbs), but above all, I FELT GREAT. My energy levels were up, stress levels were down and I felt as fit as I had been fifteen years earlier. For me, running was less about times, racing, laps, average pace and distance and more about consistency and not missing a run (and the all-important endorphins ). I increased the distance regularly to about 12kms and remained in this running routine for about 2 years.
Last summer, I was introduced to the club, opening up new running opportunity. The running trails in this area are breathtaking, and the camaraderie of running a mid- long distance together got me addicted to the Friday early-morning run. I did not intend to train for the marathon, but went with the flow of the group when that became an option.
The marathon training schedule always looked tight for me – with some personal and work scheduling demands during October and November. However, I stuck to the program, and by November I was running (and enjoying) the infamous long runs, when injury struck.
Now, post injury, while my friends in the club are tapering for the marathon in 10 days time, I am on the bounce. I am now running about 35-40kms / week with the longest run since November, a strong 14km. My motivation is sky high, despite the readjustment to my goals.
Having this injury has taught me a few obvious lessons. Here are a few:
1) This injury forced me to decide that I want to be running still in 20 years time (which will make me 56 by the way … still younger, if I am not mistaken, than one or two members of the running club!) Being ready for Tiberius in January 2008 suddenly seemed far less important than being able to enjoy the Friday morning 20km runs in 2008, 2009 and well beyond.
2) I was terrified about what would happen to my motivation level during a cold-turkey period. As I mentioned, I had run consistently for about 3 years without a break. Would I fall back into the pre-running psychology of making excuses? Would I feel like running again once I had slid away from my peak? Would I gain weight again?? Well, in fact, my motivation increased through the recovery period to the point that I simply could not wait to get on the road again. I now appreciate every pain-free step and am more committed psychologically than ever. My weight increased slightly (a few pounds) but this was probably more to do with the stash of English chocolate that was lying around in our kitchen at that time than the decrease in my running schedule. My fears were unfounded. It has not been hard to remain “a runner” even through this setback.
3) As a result of the injury, and mainly the recovery period, I have become more sensitized to listening to the physical signals from the body. It responds well to gentle, well-managed increases which makes it stronger. Conversely, it tells me when I am pushing too hard. To me, if it takes 6 more weeks to rebuild back to being able to run a good half- marathon instead of 2 more weeks, then I will live with it.
This year was not my year for the marathon; I hope that next year will be.
My injury gave me the opportunity to re-adjust my sights and move forward. In a sense, my period of injury represented a rite of passage from the casual runner to one who is looking to stretch his goals, while remaining committed to a long-term running strategy. Admittedly, it is one that I hope not to repeat.
I am looking forward to my running goals re-aligning with those of the group again, and being able to meet them as a psychologically stronger and more experienced runner.