Struggling to Stride


Struggling to Stride

by Patrick Reed

Have you ever run out of oil? Your car suddenly seizes up, the steering goes taut, the brakes harden, and, most alarming of all, a muted banging croons from deep in the bowels of your engine. And did I mention that annoying beeping whine which has been alarming from the dashboard for months?! Suddenly, it’s unanticipated pitstop time NOW and you are exiting the freeway with futile abandon. Like an atheist striving for meaning, you’re captaining the sunken vessel to its grave.  A lurching pull on the rigid wheel leads you in seconds to a stop.

In just moments, your well-(okay, apparently not well-oiled)….. your well-looking machine has been delegated to scrap-metal, and you are left shaking your head. I guess I should have checked the oil.

What if I told you that you are that declining car just moments before its demise? Your check engine light has been whinnying for days, and a white cloud of disquieting exhaust has trailed you even as you’ve conquered pristine path after clean meadow in clean-conscienced oblivion. On the outside, you are a sleek racing machine, seemingly engineered for sharp turns, swift digressions and huge ascents. But inside your motor is lurching, your fluids are vapid, your electrolytes are bouncing hysterically, and your muscles, taut with interminable repeats of absolute work followed by total, mindless rest, stand at the ready to rip.

Perhaps I am not describing you – but apparently I have painted a real picture of myself this past week. I was fit as could be – or so I thought – when I got on a plane to fly to the eastern side of the USA from California. My workouts had been vamping up, vigorous efforts up thousands of feet of elevation gain at a pop. I ran routinely with my newest training partner, a world-ranked Ironman Triathlete, Matt Russell

So, how is it that after just 3 modest runs on sand, I suddenly found myself struggling to continue my streak? Like that inevitable day when the oil bottomed out in my beloved, maroon VW Rabbit Diesel, 2 miles into a run and after only 3/4’s of a mile run on sand, my left calf seized? All at once, and seemingly without any warning, my calf muscle was on the brink of tearing.

I have weathered the setback, and have been able to complete my requisite 3.1 miles these last days here at the beach in North Carolina. Prudently, I have iced, rested (for the most part:), and persevered. 2 nights ago that meant stopping every half mile or so to stretch and rub down my ailing leg. My wife, too, has gotten into the mix and massaged the persistent calf.

But this unanticipated predicament has me pondering my overall fitness. It is no wonder that Jay Dicharry’s Anatomy For Runners is at the top of my digital bedside table. And if you think you might in any way share in my propensity to ill, consider plinking down a few bucks for this revered resource and reflecting for a deserved while about injury prevention.

Dr. George Sheehan bid us long ago to listen to our bodies; I urge you, too. And beware that listening involves intentional intervention. If the slogging din of the countless paranoid voices lull us to sleep, we may, too, slumber through the screaming signs that even today may be calling.


~Coach Patrick

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