The Agony of Defeat

Does anyone remember the introduction to the old ABC Wide World of Sports television show where the narrator says, The Thrill of Victory and the Agony of Defeat?  Remember the ski jump dude who looses control on the way down the massive slope, falls off the side of the ramp, and is tossed about like a rag doll as he comes crashing into the snow?

I grew up with that show and can attest to the fact that the whole idea of The Agony of Defeat and the visual that went along with it has been burned into the minds of an entire generation of sports minded individuals. It has come to symbolize, for my generation, every defeat (perceived or otherwise and sports related or otherwise) that we’ve ever encountered.

Well, two days ago on my most recent training run I had one of those Agony of Defeat experiences when, only one minute from completing a 3 mile training run, I experienced a minor tear on the calf muscle of my left leg. It’s only the second injury I’ve experienced in 27 years of consistent running and happens to be the same injury to the same muscle. The first time it happened due to the impact caused from taking a deep downhill slope far too fast. More recently, and if I’m honest with myself, I’m quite confident this one came from a combination of over training and a pair of shoes that should have been retired long ago from anything related to my training runs. Not sure which was more at fault, but I suspect both made a contribution.

You see, I set a goal to get back to running and, in typical obsessive fashion, put in too many training miles to quickly. I succeeded in reaching my 5k distance and even ran my first 5k race without any problems, but then proceeded to run daily 5k training runs and that’s when it happened.

It’s always fun to blog about successes with training, fitness, and running, but a bit humbling to sit down and write when the topic relates to an injury which, for so many of us, often translates to defeat. It’s the point where aggressive day-to-day training goals must yield to that ultimate goal of fitness and good health! I take those yield signs seriously, but I don’t take them with much grace and style. It’s not in my DNA to set out a plan and then fail at executing it. Truth is the failure occurred in the planning phase and not with the execution. But, for either it’s a hard pill to swallow because I am responsible for both!

The good news is that I only limped on the day that the tear occurred so it can’t be too bad (unlike years ago when my first tear shut me down for two months.) The bad news is that a short test run today (on the second day after the tear) turned out to be far shorter than I ever imagined (about 20 seconds worth) as it was apparent that the tear has not healed completely. There’s more good news in that I feel no hint of pain from walking or even climbing stairs. There’s also more bad news in that it’s anyone’s guess as to when I will be up to running two or three miles again.

I’ve got another 5k in a week and a half. I’m okay on that distance from a training standpoint (especially since I’m only clocking in with an 8:30 per mile pace) but will have to make sure I’m completely healed before placing myself at risk for a more lengthy period of healing.

Don’t forget the ultimate goal, my friends! Here’s to your fitness and good health!

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