My last blog post was from December 2014. At that time, I was really happy to share the big news. I just finished running my 1,000th mile in a span of only 14 months. I weighed 145 pounds, and I could effortlessly run a 10K in about 45 minutes. It was not unusual for me to run between 8 and 10 miles in a given day. Another 14 months have passed. I am back to my old weight of 178 pounds. My days of running outside seem like a distant memory. Now, it’s like I am climbing Mt. Everest every time I get on the treadmill. After about 30 minutes of light jogging, it feels like a miracle that I not only managed to run a 5K, but stay on the treadmill in the first place.
Today, my goal of qualifying for the Boston marathon appears to be a far-fetched fantasy that may never come true. Every now and then, I take a good look at myself in the mirror and wonder what happened to that same guy who ran his last half marathon in 1 hour and 38 minutes in October 2013? How did I manage to regain my weight, slow down so much, and even stop writing in my favorite blog? What happened?
Last April, I developed a bad case of iliotibial band syndrome (ITBS) or “runner’s knee.” I’ve always felt some degree of soreness in my knees and legs almost after every run. This soreness had ranged from mild discomfort to dull pain, but it never stopped me from running altogether. Over time, I have gotten used to it, and the soreness usually went away after some basic stretching exercises. This was something completely different. For the first time after over three years of running, I felt a sharp and unusual pain. After jogging on the treadmill for just three to four minutes, I had an almost knee-jerk reaction that rendered my legs helpless. I could still walk, but I could not run at all.
I responded to this injury by significantly slowing my running down. In April, my mileage was only 38 miles compared to a decent 71 miles in March of last year. Unfortunately, I did not seek physical theray, or ,do any cross-training. I also did not watch my diet. I did not even buy a foam roller to help stretch my legs and strengthen the muscles around my knees. In a few months, my knee started to feel a little better, and I felt that I could run longer again. However, the damage had already been done. By the time July and August rolled around, I was already around 165 pounds. I was running between 40-50 miles per month compared to 80-90 miles per month one year earlier. I was eating a lot more too. Making matters even worse, I was eating the wrong foods. Instead of sticking to organic, non-fatty foods with low carbs and no sugar, I was gorging on McDonalds burgers, Starbucks mochas, and lots and lots of candy! While I felt good for a moment, I did not feel good at the end of the day. Quoting one of my favorite Austin Powers movies, “I ate because I was unhappy, and I was unhappy because I ate.”
As a result, I am what I am today, and I am not happy about it to say the least. As I think back to what I did to get back into shape, I realize that most of it was a combination of two things – focus and discipline. Those things not only helped me stay in shape, but they were also a source of happiness in my life. I took a lot pride in the fact that I could stick to my fitness and diet plans day in and day out. I took that pride for granted, and now I realize how happy I was back then compared to what I feel now.
There is no doubt the knee injury played a big part in it. However, life is not just about injuries and failures, but it’s about what we do to get back on our feet. Over the past 14 months, I felt like I had no major accomplishments to share, so I didn’t write anything. Sometimes, I thought that somehow I would miraculously lose a bunch of weight, and I could set another half marathon personal record within just a few weeks. It never happened. However, something special happened yesterday. I ran 6.2 miles on the tread mill. I didn’t think I was going to survive at times, but somehow I was able to complete the distance in just under an hour. I was tired, sweaty, and sore after that painful ordeal. More importantly, I decided to write about my experience and struggles. This is a sign that I’m on the road to recovery, even if that means starting from scratch.