TITLE: Opening Day -- with a Slight Delay AUTHOR: Eugene Wallingford DATE: April 03, 2006 5:58 PM DESC: ----- BODY: Since I took up training for half-marathons and marathons back in 2003, the first Monday in April has been the traditional "opening day" for my training season. I usually run the Sturgis Falls Half Marathon, which is part of our major city festival. The race is always the last Sunday in June, and starting at the beginning of April gives me almost three months to prepare specifically for racing a good half. Today is opening day for 2006, with a race date of June 25. Countdown: 12 weeks. My training is on hold for a day or two, though. A couple of week ago, I started feeling a little soreness in my hamstrings. I ran normally that week, in hopes that it would pass. It didn't, and got worse instead. So last week I cut my mileage way back and further ran very, very easily -- no speed, no acceleration, no hills, just short, slow, easy miles. I may never have run a 10-minute mile before (well, except perhaps while struggling to finish my last marathon.) By last Friday, my hamstrings hurt even more, so I decided to take drastic measures: I skipped my Sunday run. Believe it or not, I had never had to cancel a run for injury! The 48-hour break helped my right hamstring, but the left still felt a little tender. So I chose not to run today, either. The left hamstring is feeling better today, and I may take tomorrow off, too. With hamstrings, it is safer to be a little more cautious and let those boys heal well than to foolhardily race off too soon. I have friends who have suffered through full seasons of hamstring pain. They affect walking and sitting, and then you can't run at all. A day or too of rest is a price worth paying when a plausible alternative is weeks or months on the shelf. Not that I have ever been one to be cautious when it comes to canceling runs. I usually run through things and let my body win. But I've probably been fortunate not to have the sort of injuries that made that strategy impossible. I didn't suffer any particular injury here, so I guess this is what athletes call an "overuse injury". I've been running about 38-41 miles per week this winter, and between miles and shoes and a little speed, I may just have overdone things a bit. And maybe I'm getting a little older, and this is my body's way of reminding me who's in charge... So, my half-marathon training may not start until Wednesday morning. Another day of rest, then a short, easy jog, then -- if all feels okay -- a few easy miles for this week. Eleven weeks is plenty of time to prepare for a half, and I want to enjoy it. Besides, next week I spend a few days in Carefree, Arizona, and I want to enjoy the trails, hills, coyotes, and javelinas! -----