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  • Writer's pictureChris Toepker

The Start: Adventure Awaits

Updated: May 15, 2020

My baseball loving friend, Matt, often reminds me that "Halfway through the season, everyone is playing through pain." And what is true in baseball, is true in life. Taking up serious running at an age like this is impossible. Isn't it?

To be sure, I wanted to be sure that I didn't injure myself. That's different! Working the muscles, joints and mind isn't meant to be simple. Still, when done properly it shouldn't break you either. When I started, I was not in the best running shape. I consulted a doctor, especially worried about pain in my heel and ankle. Turns out, I have a Haglund's Deformity, also called a "pump bump" because women often get them from wearing ill-fitting pumps. Oddly, I'd never worn pumps, or even ill-fitting shoes. I'm not sure exactly where it came from, but there it is!

Leaving further details aside for now, as I started doing more hiking and running, I was sure to visit my doctor. We did a lot of tests, including X-rays. Was I broken? Could I keep doing more? Doc told me, "Yep, you have a lump back there. That's probably some scar tissue that has built up. You seem to have a bone spur too. Funny thing though: the pain is not usually associated with the bump unless it's from wear." Wait, what? "That's right. The pain is probably more because you're simply stiff and maybe because it gets rubbed by your shoes sometimes. Overall though, if you stretch more, and balance the strengthening with some lengthening, you'll see a lot of improvement to that pain."

So, I got a pass to keep doing what I was doing - as long as I did some more.

It was the phrase "pain not associated" that really got me thinking. It was motivating to realize that my worries had manifested around something obvious, but which turned out to be unrelated to my real trouble. The bump looked like an impossibility. I could break through that, by going around it. That was three years ago now.

Once the doc had given me the green light, I began building up. My hikes got longer and farther. So long that they started to take too long. Too much time to finish. Running became a way to get just get it done faster. It was rewarding to see more, go higher and farther - sure. But mostly, it was a way to push harder. The seed had been planted

"If it felt good, you didn't push hard enough. It's supposed to hurt like hell." ~ Dean Karnazes

A few selected images from those early outings. The passion was planted.

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