em ơi! #350: we must imagine Sisyphus…

The struggle itself...is enough to fill a man's heart. One must imagine Sisyphus happy.  Or with a slipped disk in his back and rotator cuff issues.

As it says, about three and a half weeks ago I developed peroneal tendonitis in my left ankle. This is fun because it is the opposite foot from the one I hurt during my last marathon training cycle. As usual, I am surprised by how stupid my coping skills get without being able to run. This has really been a voyage of discovery vis-à-vis my terrible neurotic dark side.  I’d like to claim I’ve learned a lot about myself and will no longer be bothered by the same problems.  That might sort of be true…but I have a feeling that I’m not completely over some of these things.

But, my story: I was pretty depressed and feeling bad about how I was going to miss my marathon, and sort of in denial about the whole thing.  I’d made a PT appointment but hadn’t gone in yet, and as I was biking down I came up with this script.  Drawing this comic was really the first step in feeling better, because it was when I came up with it that I started to be able to laugh at myself again. So long as I do not take my problems too seriously, I think I can overcome anything. (And also I should point out that I overcame quite a bit of writer’s block, or comic artist’s block I guess? in order to post this. And I don’t actually even believe in writer’s block!)

For what it’s worth, the PT was actually very nice and told me about his own running-related injuries.

Learning from experience
The thing is, I should have known this was coming. Last year, when I subluxed my cuboid bone, the PT did a gait analysis and decided that I pronate too much. Everyone pronates a little (it means when you step, your foot rolls to the outside). But I do it a lot, and since I also have stretchy ligaments in my ankles, this puts a lot of pressure on them. If I want to wear the minimalist shoes I’ve been wearing (and I do), I have to do exercises to keep the muscles in my ankles strong. I wasn’t doing those consistently, so I got hurt.

In Baltimore, missing my marathon, a doctor friend gave me a brace to control the lateral movement of my ankle while I strengthen the little muscles in the area. In addition to preventing lateral movement, the brace prevents…well, it makes non-lateral movement difficult as well, I have to take a step with the good leg, then kind of post off the bad one–I’m sure it’s hilarious for all of those watching me. But I can run with a minimum amount of pain.

Yesterday I was hobbling around the track at the SERF and a guy blows past me in the outside lane. Not too surprising, I was running maybe a 10:15 mile (yikes, how the mighty have fallen). Anyway, he was going flat out, wearing Vibram FiveFingers, and he was really over-striding, so that he hit the ground heel-first pretty far in front of his body. I watched him do this pretty consistently for several laps (I had a lot of time to observe), and when I watched him stretch he was rolling out his ankles like they were bothering him. I wondered if I should have stopped and said, “Hey, you need to fix your gait before you wind up like me.” In my mind, one big problem with minimalist shoes is that it can be hard to tell if you’re doing it wrong, and to prove this both Bryan (who runs in VFFs) and I have been through periods of injury all summer (Bryan is sorted out now, thankfully, and I will be soon). Given that I know perhaps more than the average undergrad, and given that I was observant enough to notice all this, should I have said something?

I don’t know. I didn’t. If I see him again, I probably will.

Filing this comic under: RC1220.M35 L86 2011, for Internal medicine — Special situations and conditions — Sports medicine — Medical and physiological aspects of special activities. By activity, A-Z — Marathon running. Good times.