My 2012 foray into running

I wasn’t really into running as a child, or into sports in general for that matter. Of course I participated in some kid games that include some running occasionally, like tag, dodge ball etc. Riding a bike, swimming, moving heavy objects around – that’s more my thing, but overall I wasn’t very interested in sports and especially the ones that require a lot of running. In the army I had to run (mandatory military service) and I was mediocre at best – not that I was trying more than the bare minimum to keep sergeant’s mouth shut.

So, that’s all about my running until last year. I’ve never run more than 3 km in my 35 years on earth. So, this last summer I was on a month long business trip to Boston, and I wouldn’t be able to ride my bike (my favourite thing). So, I decided I shall give running a try. Moreover, getting a new GPS/HR unit was in my plans (my old Sigma broke down) and they are quite cheaper in the US than Europe. There you have it: the measuring geek in me + the need to move. To make it more interesting I challenged some friends and we set a date for a friendly 5k run.

I looked around the net for some training plans and started running. I also signed with Strava – it’s much more fun than Garmin Connect. Initially, I couldn’t keep my heart rate at the low rates they recommended in the training plans. It seems, despite my MTB induced fitness (hey 2012 I rode 100km around Vitosha in 6:20!), running is too different beast and requires quite a bit of specific training to get the hang of it. All was going well – I run in the Boston area in July & August, then some more running back in Sofia. In October we went to Sithonia, Greece for few days and from there we drove through all of Greece and much of Italy up to Sardinia 🙂

In Sardinia initially everything was perfect running wise (and otherwise too), but then maybe I went too far too fast, and my right knee started to ache a bit. Some searching through the interwebs, made me think it is a case of Iliotibial Band Syndrome (ITBS). Btw, I had somewhat similar case just before “Vitosha 100” 2012, but it was my left knee. The interesting thing about both cases is – they start to hurt some time into the exercise. The pain goes completely away the moment you stop the specific movement that “aggravates” it. For example, last year I had to ride my bike for about 45 minutes to an hour before my left knee begins to hurt. No pain whatsoever while walking. Now, this year I have to run for about 5-10 minutes before my knee begins to hurt. No pain whatsoever if I walk or if I ride my bicycle.

I quit running for almost 3 weeks prior to our friendly 5k run. Unfortunately I don’t have the means to test whether the underlying issue was healed – I had to run to see, and I was afraid I’d make it worse, so I restrained. My next run was the 5k itself on 28 October. I took one acetaminophen (paracetamol) 15 minutes before the run, just in case (I know it’s toxic to the liver). The pain flared up about 10 minutes into the run, but it was bearable, so I pushed through it and finished in 31 minutes. My hope was sub 30 minutes, but it didn’t work out :-/

November and December were the lazy months. No running at all, only very sporadic weight lifting and cycling to work here and there. I figured I’d give the knee 2 months of rest and see if it’s going to recover.

So, my plan is to ease into C25K around mid January 2012 and see how it goes. If I manage to build up without further issues till around 1 March, we’re gonna stage another friendly run around end of March or early April.

I’ve also decided to take more active part in MTB racing this year, so I’m slowly building my base fitness on the bike as well. It’s great fun commuting to work through the snow and slush 🙂

Fingers crossed.

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