Training Thursday: To Be A Runner of Steel

I was approaching 40…  youngest daughter just turned 5…  my weight had ballooned over 200 pounds… and I was behind a desk… at my computer, still, at my computer.  I considered myself a runner, but “fell off the wagon” when my first daughter was born in 1998.  First daughter born, got a real job, moved to new state, second daughter born, yada, yada, yada… I had dreamed of running a marathon, but was now sedentary and stuck behind my desk.  January 26, 2006, I posted this on a computer message board, “here goes, I’m going to leave work a little early and go for a 1/2 hour walk right now.”  Six years later I’ve completed 2 full marathons, many half marathons, and made countless friends through running.  However, an accident last year halted my exercise, and I find myself starting back at square one.  Continue after the break to see how I’m gearing up once again to become a “Runner of Steel.”

Image: the author running Disney’s Inaugural Expedition Everest Challenge, September, 2008

Valentine’s Day 2011 started like most days.  I was leaving the house to take my oldest daughter to school and head down to work when: wham, bam, no thank you, ma’am.  There I was, on my tookus, sprawled in the driveway, with limbs akimbo.  I slipped on the ice, and felt my leg break on the way to the ground.  A rod and pins were inserted into the broken right tibia that evening, and I’ve been on the road to recovery ever since.

Image: (L-R) broken right tibia and fibula 2/14/11, rod inserted, tibia fracture fused as of 8/25/11.

Since the fracture, I can walk at a normal pace, with no limp, but running is a challenge.  I’d experience discomfort in my right leg (the leg formerly known as broken; is there a symbol for that?), and I also experience discomfort in my left leg – the nonbroken one.  Probably due to some sort of change in my running gait, compensation, etc.  I finally decided to go all the way back to square one.  January 2012 I’m starting over – just like I did in January 2006.

I’ve registered for a full marathon – the Pittsburgh Marathon May 6, 2012.  I know, I know, you’re thinking – “what the? You can’t run without discomfort, so you sign up for a marathon?  That makes no sense…”  However, before you go getting all judgementally – consider this: just like January 2006, the marathon only serves as motivation to keep active and training.  My plan is to train using a combination run/walk method, and my goal is to finish the race.  I will use a training plan developed by John “The Penguin” Bingham and published in his book Marathoning for Mortals.  Bingham’s training plans are designed for us “adult-onset” athletes, and meant to build people up to complete a marathon slowly and gently.  Now, why the Pittsburgh Marathon you ask?

Simple, Pittsburgh is the city where I grew up, the marathon premiered in the city in 1985 (right before I graduated high school), and I always aspired to come back and run on my home streets.  Plus, my mother-in-law’s house on Pittsburgh’s North Side is one block removed from the marathon course.  Thus making it relatively easy to roll out of bed and show up at the starting line on race day.  Hey, if I’m going to attempt 26.2 miles, I might as well save some steps whenever I can.  In the weeks to come, I’ll post articles about my training, things that motivate me, sights I’ve seen along my run, or just random thoughts that pop into my head as I’m out pounding the pavement.  If anyone out there also happens to be training for the Pittsburgh Marathon, any marathon, or just want some support for their own healthy living, I invite you to join in with the conversation by leaving a comment below.

Click here for the next installment of my training efforts for the Pittsburgh Marathon.  For more running adventures, be sure to follow Adventures by Daddy on twitter and “like” our facebook page too.

About Dave Parfitt

Married, father of two girls, and living in the heart of the Finger Lakes. I'm a runner with a PhD in neuroscience and a passion for travel.