It started with some treadmill miles at a New Jersey hotel while on my first work trip since pre-covid, followed by a successful 30-mile finish at the TARCtic Frozen Yeti ultramarathon in sub-zero temperatures. My goal coming off of a 64-mile performance at the Hamsterwheel in November was to parlay that race into some serious base-building rather than several weeks of laziness. That set me up for success at the Frozen Yeti, and I took the same post-race approach so the Frozen Yeti could be a building block for the annual “Don’t Run Boston” 50K in April, and onward toward a hopeful 100-mile effort at Notchview in July (still sitting in second on the wait list).
The month of February began with such promise but closed out with a bit of frustration on the running front.
All went well. I followed a 44-mile Frozen Yeti race week with a 32-mile recovery week before bumping right back up above 40 miles, including another 44-mile week to close out the month. That’s when the frustration arose. On Sunday, Feb. 19, I blew out the side of the toe box on one of my Salomon Sense Rides, marking the end of those shoes. I’d been using a more cushy pair of shoes, the New Balance Hierro 7s, for some extra padding on my shorter road runs so I transitioned them to the trails (they’re a trail shoe anyway). On Wednesday, Feb. 22, I ran my first double-digit mileage run in them – a 10.8-mile effort at the Blue Hills – and felt fantastic. After a few days of short road runs, I closed out the week with two days of trail runs. That’s where the frustration arose. On Saturday, Feb. 25, I noticed some faint inflammation in my left knee. A day later, it got worse during my run. The inflammation was reminiscent of what I felt back in 2018/2019 when chondromalacia sidelined me from running for nearly a year. I was concerned that the softer shoes might cause me to pronate, which is something the firm Salomons helped me avoid. It appears that worry may be well founded.
But it’s not necessarily the shoes. I’ve also missed a few weeks of strength training – which was the greatest contributor to my issues in 2018/2019, so it is fair to suspect that is part of—if not the sole cause of—the problem now.
Unlike 2018/2019, I’m hopefully a bit smarter about this problem now and hopefully not too stubborn to recognize it and try to ward it off early. After racking up 155 miles of running in February and pushing my yearly total up to 316, I took the final two days of the month off from running. I closed out the month with a circuit training strength session. I’ll also open March with no miles and more lifting. I hope to run again soon, but recognize that a few extra days off now won’t cost me the base I’ve built; what could undermine the base would be to ignore the knee and stubbornly push forward.
The legs have given me a lot already this year. This is a moment for me to give a little bit back to them while keeping my big goals for the year in focus.