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Running Training Travel

Life Has a Funny Way

I’ll blindly stand behind most things nineties — Lisa Frank, Tamagotchis, that puppet dinosaur show that briefly aired on TGIF — but Alanis Morissette’s hit single “Ironic” has always annoyed me just a bit.

A traffic jam when you’re already late. A no-smoking sign on your cigarette break. It’s like ten thousand spoons when all you need is a knife. It’s meeting the man of my dreams and then meeting his beautiful wife.

Catchy, sure, but the misuse of the song’s titular theme drives me a little crazy. Pick up a dictionary and irony is defined as incongruity between the actual result of a sequence of events and the normal or expected result. Rain on your wedding day isn’t ironic, Alanis — it’s just unfortunate. Also, it’s probably time to thin out your silverware drawer, you spoon hoarder, you.

But while a black fly in your Chardonnay is arguably more unsanitary than ironic, I believe I actually did experience some de facto irony this past week. You may recall that after two years of injury-free running without any supplemental strength training, I finally decided it was time to stop pushing my luck and build some lean muscle mass. Countless studies have shown light weightlifting and strength training can help prevent common running injuries, and with my second marathon training cycle fast approaching, I figured I really shouldn’t leave myself so susceptible to wear and tear. So I woke up early on Wednesday, trekked to the gym, squatted and lunged my way through a 60-minute strength class and returned home proud of my preventative efforts at keeping myself injury free.

I then packed a suitcase with tons of running gear and a surprising lack of 80s paraphernalia given I was on my way to my five-year college reunion, grabbed my boarding pass and hopped a plane to the always hideous Maine coast.

Worst. View. Ever.
Worst. View. Ever.

I knew my reunion weekend would be busy between beach trips and lobster bakes and dance parties and — let’s be honest — the caliber of hangover only a 27 year old pretending to be a 21 year old can muster, but I still figured I’d get in a few gorgeous runs beneath the pines before returning to New York City tonight.

My right knee, however, had other plans. Fast forward to Friday morning, and I suddenly couldn’t walk.

Now I’m not talking run-of-the-mill-sore-muscles-couldn’t-walk. I’m talking couldn’t-bend-my-right-knee-without-agonizing-pain-couldn’t-walk. Somehow between going to sleep on Thursday night and awaking on Friday morning, my right knee had forgotten how to straighten or transfer weight or traverse stairs, leaving me with excruciating pain, a noticeable limp and my first debilitating exercise-related injury since my second-grade self fell off her bike and broke her leg.

I skipped my planned Friday run in hopes the pain would pass, but after waking up to find my knee just as stiff Saturday morning and still not 100 percent today, I’m afraid maybe I really did do some damage. I guess it’s possible my unidentified injury didn’t have a darn thing to do with the weight training class at all, but since I hadn’t changed anything else in my routine leading up to it — and had even reduced my mileage in recent weeks — I can’t help but think my “preventative” workout was to blame for this weekend’s pain. Oh, the irony.

I know the first rule of sports injuries is to take more rest than you think you need — that, and eat a lot of RICE, or something — so I promise to take it slow this week as I focus on my recovery. The plan for tomorrow is to hit the pool for some slow, kick-free laps, and we’ll take it from there.

Still, while I’m disappointed not to have worked out even once this weekend — and will be downright distraught is this becomes a recurring issue — spending four days on my former campus doing nothing but sitting around stuffing my face with the No. 1 college food in the country felt pretty darn right. My NYC marathon goal — and waistline — would prefer not to take four consecutive rest days ever again, but at least if I had to be sidelined for an extra-long weekend, I was surrounded by my favorite people in the process.

No, it wasn't an all women's college. Why do you ask?
No, it wasn’t an all women’s college. Why do you ask?

Have you ever been sidelined for an unidentified injury? How did you cope? If your answer is “eat more blueberry cake,” then you and I are more similar than we ever knew.