One Step Behind

  • Joni Mitchel says you don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone.
  • Passenger says you only miss the sun when it starts to snow.
  • I say you don’t realize how many gosh-darn flights of stairs you walk a day until you develop a bout of runner’s knee and each subsequent descent results in a throbbing stab of torture.

(I’m not sure why my version hasn’t been turned into a pop song yet. I think it’s just as catchy as Joni’s.)

The pain in my right knee started last Tuesday after a particularly grueling 6-mile tempo run and a squat-heavy Body Pump class teamed up to ensure that my knee cap burns like fire every time I move.

Once I realized it was more than run-of-the-mill strain, I did everything I was supposed to do in subsequent days — dialed back my training, upped my stretching, singlehandedly kept the NSAID and Tiger Balm industries in business, road tripped to Indiana — but I still returned to New York City from a long weekend to discover that flights of stairs are no longer my friends.

Sole Exception: When this buffoon is sitting on them.
Sole Exception: When this buffoon is sitting on them.

Unfortunately, for the New Yorker without the luxury of an elevator building, stairs are totally unavoidable. Don’t believe me? Let’s play a fun game called guess how many flights Anne walks up and down in a typical day.

6 a.m. At the sound of my alarm, walk downstairs from our upstairs bedroom to the apartment’s main floor.

(Flights: down 1)

6:15 a.m. Head from the 5th floor to street level for a workout.

(Flights: down 4)
(Flights: down 4)

7:15 a.m. Return to apartment, return to upstairs bedroom, then turn around and do it all over again as I head to work.

I realize these photos will start to look a little repetitive, so here's a good looking doodle pic instead. You're welcome. (Flights: up 5, down 5)
I realize these photos will start to look repetitive quickly, so here’s a good looking doodle pic instead. You’re welcome. (Flights: up 5, down 5)

7:30 a.m. At departing subway station, downstairs to the express train.

(Flights: down 4)
(Flights: down 4)

7:40 a.m. At arriving subway station, back up to the main level.

(Flights: up 6)

7:45 a.m. At work, two flights down to my desk, then dozens of flights up and down throughout the day in order to grab snacks off the main level. I’ve gotten so spoiled I won’t travel for chocolate covered almonds anymore, but yesterday was free astronaut ice-cream day, and that definitely enticed me to hobble my way upstairs.

I've recently learned I'm not supposed to post photos of inside my office building, so here's Keira waiting for a cab. (Flights: down 2)
I’ve recently learned I’m not supposed to post photos of inside my office building, so here’s Keira waiting for a cab. (Flights: down 2, up 2, down 2, up 2, until I’m full, which is never.)

6 p.m. Back home again.

(Flights: down 6 to train, up 4 to street, up 5 to bedroom, down 1 when I realize I want a bedtime snack, up 1 to bed. Down and up 1 more if I have to pee in the middle of the night. The duplex apartment seemed like a good idea at the time.)

That’s more than 50 flights a day, and that’s the bare minimum. If I drop off recycling in the basement, that’s up and down an extra flight. Head out for errands? Tack on a cumulative 10 more. Watch Channing Tatum dance his way to love in 2006 teen film “Step Up” and follow along? I haven’t actually seen that movie, but I can imagine the stepping is endless.

Unfortunately, there’s not much I can do to avoid it. So I’m doing what marathon runners do best: wrapping and icing my injuries, eating protein-rich peanut butter by the quart to stimulate muscle repair, and counting down the days until I can head out for a run without giving my knees even the slightest of thought.

If I keep this up, I imagine I’ll have to get better. Come on, healing. STEP ON IT!

Have you entered August marathon training unscathed?


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