Sunday, November 23, 2008

To Run Or Not To Run

My running season this year started with the Delhi Half Marathon. It was almost sabotaged by a viral infection. I was on antibiotics till the day of the run. But by then I was feeling much better thanks to the ENT specialist I paid a visit to. Nothing like getting advice from your doctor to 'definitely carry on running'. He wished me luck for the run, which boosted my morale a lot. I'm sure runners who have not been able to run due to injury or illness know what I mean. The weeks before that were sort of depressing, with uncertainty nagging at every point. I was not able to train for a couple of weeks.

The Delhi run went well. I clocked 02:11:28, my best time for 21k. One week after that I had the Bangalore Ultra Marathon. It had 25/50/75/100k editions, and more if you want to run. Yes, it was not the usual marathon (we have so less of them in India). Organized by Runners for Life, it was the most perfectly managed running event I have been in till now. The reason? The organizers were runners themselves. Unlike Mumbai (which is still the best organized among the 'normal' marathons in India) and Delhi, the focus was on runners' needs and fun rather than media attention and keeping the sponsors happy. The RFL guys really understand what running is about. I had a lot of fun, plus it was my longest run till date. I registered for the 25k, and ended up changing it to 50k. I did complete 50k, although I had to completely walk the last lap of 12.5k due to knee pain. Still, 50k - Whoo! The distance is still unfathomable for me. I cannot visualize it like I can for 21 (which is essentially 2 rounds around the Hussain Sagar lake, plus 2 k).

The target this month was (and still is) to complete 3 half marathons. One of them is over, one of turned out to be more, and the last one is next Sunday, here in Hyderabad. The Hyderabad 21k is still not very well organized even after all these years - but I hope this time they will do better. It's like running in your own backyard, so I'm not much bothered.

My problems started today when I went for a run in the morning to see how much I have healed post-Ultra. After 2k both my knees started paining to the point where I had to stop. It was not the usual kneecap pain - it was lateral - along the side of the knee. Some research later, it seems that I have another common running injury - ITBS - Iliotibial Band Syndrome. Have been trying out ice packs and some recommended stretching exercises. Let's see if it gets better in the 6 days left for the half marathon. If it doesn't, well, :(

My mantra right now is a marathon runner's words - Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional. (Haruki Murakami quotes this in his book 'What I talk about when I talk about Running'.)