Marathon Journal: Of Basketball and Age

This week of training sucked. Zero miles. The reality is setting in that I just don’t recover like a did back in my “yute.” I’ve had this pesky calf thing going on and there is one thing that sets it off like nothing else.

Basketball.

Hoops is similar to a person I know that I should not be around, but who’s draw is irresistible. You know that person, fun, exciting, and full of risk. That’s basketball for me. I love the sound of the ball echoing in the gym. I am intrigued by the chess-like movements of the players where misdirection and patience earn the best results. I bask in the test of will where the defense dictates what the offense is allowed to do. And always there is that sound.

But with all that bouncing and bounding, I seem to have developed a weakness in my kinematic chain that is exposed like a lead-footed player in open space. My left calf doesn’t want to cooperate with my basketball playing trysts and my duty to training for the marathon. I got on the court this week to help my players understand how to space the floor and how to move the ball for the easiest shot. A colleague once told me of my dalliance with CrossFit that, “a man your age should be walking.” Following this week of practice, I think he may be right.

Before sitting to write today, I took my pit bull out for a walk. He is nothing but powerful and when we run together it’s fast and over quickly. He’s more of a cheetah than a dolphin. We hit the first bite of arctic air this season and he gave me the “You’re kidding, right?” look. I said to him, “Do you want to run?” It was as if I hit the plunger on a load of dynamite. He bolted, firing each of his powerful muscles and we sprinted about 200 yards. The combination of soreness from basketball and running cold was too much of my irritable calf to handle. I felt the tightness and knew to stop right away.

It stinks because this has been going on now for a couple of months. If I do anything but run, my calf hurts. Then I can’t run. I have friends who are dealing with the same injury. They are also about my age. Hmmm… I have another friend who has torn both of his Achilles tendons playing basketball. He’s my age, too. Hmmm… Maybe my analytical brain should talk to my lovelorn heart and tell me to break up with basketball. A man my age might not be cut out for playing basketball the way my mind thinks I should play. I just can’t do the same things on the court I could do when I was thirty-five, twenty-five, or even fifteen. I play more like a five-year-old. I get open, but I can’t get to the rim anymore.

The question is, “What’s next?” I’m back on the “recovery” plan where I run a few laps and then stretch a lot. I’ll also get back to strengthening my gluteal muscles and hamstrings. I suppose I should revive the tedium of trying fix whatever flaws I have in my running technique. I’ll also start working in more cycling, Peloton, is pretty cool…expensive, but for a month that might be a good option for me. I’ll do the compression wraps and plenty of mobility exercises. With time my calf will calm down and I’ll be able to pick up the mileage again.

But I’ll be “jonesing” for basketball…

See you next week…

Note:

Thank you for reading about my little marathon journey. Remember, this is about finding purpose in the run. I also have a practical purpose of raising funds for charity. My charity is the Kennett Area YMCA. If you would like to donate to their fund, the link is below. However, any charity could benefit from a donation, so if you want to donate somewhere else, I’d love that just as much.

Kennett Area YMCA Donate

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