Jim Wharton got on the phone yesterday to inquire about the broken toe. With Jim firing off questions, expressing concern for my training, and lavishing detailed instructions, I felt like a Kenyan (but Caucasian and with more body fat than the entire team combined). God love Jim Wharton.
Jim: “Bev, there are two components to dealing with an injury at this level of training.”
Bev: “Pain and suffering?”
Jim: “No. First, we have to make sure that you keep moving, but don’t modify body mechanics by limping or favoring the other foot or protecting the injury. If you do any of that, you’ll set up an imbalance that will cause you bigger problems very shortly.”
Bev: “But it hurts.”
Jim: (Silence from New York. I’m guessing this was an un-Kenyan thing to point out. Clearly, he wasn’t going to dignify the remark.)
Bev: “Got it. Keep moving. Keep my gait perfect and balanced. No favoring. Uh, will screaming throw my gait off?”
Jim: “No. Screaming is fine. It opens up the chest and expands lung capacity. Excellent. And the second, equally important component is healing that injury. Keep the foot moving, even though the toe can’t cooperate right now. Don’t let it seize up. To get blood flowing to the toe, plunge your foot into ice water, hold for a minute or two, and then plunge into warm water and hold for a minute or two. Back and forth several times.”
Bev: “Screaming still okay, right?”
Jim: (Silence from New York. I’m now guessing that Kenyans never scream when the Whartons are around. Or ever.)
Bev: “Got it. Cold and hot … back and forth. Moving.”
Jim: “Tape the little toe to the one next to it when you run. Be gentle. If running is impossible at the moment, move to an elliptical trainer or swim. Remember that marathon training is only partially about running. If you can’t run right now, move to something else. Just don’t quit. Keep your stretch rope close at hand and focus especially on lower extremities and core. Stay loose.
“And, Bev, remember that injuries are magnets. Once you have a hot spot, everything in the universe will hit it to remind you that it’s there. Ignore all that. This injury will nag you for about six weeks. Then it’ll be history. Keep running. This is your moment. New York Marathon one more time, baby.”
Bev: “New York Marathon one more time, Stretch Boy. Thanks. Bye.”
And so on we go with yet one more lesson of the marathon remembered. A runner’s discipline demands that pain be redefined as information. There’s a time to back off; there’s a time to plow through. You must be able to interpret responsibly in order to make right decisions. And most important, whining is decidedly un-Kenyan. We shall cease immediately.