To run or not to run… that is the question

February 2007
Diagnosis: partially torn Achilles tendon

I’ve been good. Four months without running. Semi-diligent on physical therapy exercises (Even though I see they may be helping, I hate them and they make me sore.) On my last doctor appointment (June 2007) he said the swelling may last up to a year. Be patient. When I asked about the future and running his reponse was something to the affect, “Yes, you’ll probably be able to run again. You know, with this kind of injury it could just snap at any time or remain like a tendonitis. I have an associate with the same injury, a very athletic person. He thought he was completely healed. He reached for a cup in the cupboards one day and it totally ruptured.”

Ok, so to run or not to run, that is the question. After all this time to be told this wonderful anecdote, almost to tell me it doesn’t matter what you do or even if you think you’re healed, you may end up snapping that little sucker; I’ve decided. I’ve thought long and hard. Here is the simple answer, I run.

With the help of a fabulous physical therapist with a running specialty, Ian Chapple – I have a set of orthotics, exercises and good guidance. Of course, I’m taking it slow. But over the past two weeks now I’m running 2-3 easy miles. Most of the miles are on a track and done in short (400-1200s) portions. I stop when it starts to ache or get that funny tight-stretch feeling. I avoid stretching as directed (I like that advice because I never stretched anyway). I use lots of ice. Even at 8:00 or even 10:00 per mile pace, I feel like I’m alive again! After four months off even this pace and mileage makes me sore. I can run 2 miles non-stop now.

I had the privilege last year of coaching a triathlete who had a total hip replacement (the cause is not related to sports). He was cycling and swimming but he wanted to run again – his first love. With all due precautions we proceeded. As of this spring he did a sprint triathlon. He feels like a runner again. I’ve also had the opportunity of living through a close friend and fellow coach’s heart attack. She could have chosen never to run again in fear of having a heart attack “out there”. She ran a 5K in 21:45 recently, completed three legs of the RAGNAR relay and a leg of the Lake Tahoe Relay.

Why run? Isn’t it a risk of further injury or even worse? Yes. And apparently so is reaching for a cup on a shelf. I will live with the possibitility.

The spector of a what “might be” is simply minor when weighed against not doing what I love… no… what we love.


About Dean Hebert

I’m a mental game coach, author and speaker. I work with individual athletes, parents, coaches, and teams on sports performance enhancement. Beyond my academic post-graduate work in sports psychology - the psychology behind athlete performance – I am a certified Mental Games Coaching Professional (MGCP) and certified hypnotherapist. I’ve authored several books and hundreds of articles. “Coach, I didn’t run because…” (2008) is a seriously light-hearted look at making excuses not to workout and how to overcome them. “Focus for Fitness” (2009) and “Screw the Goals Give me the Donut” (2010) are two of my eBooks on mental game approaches for the everyday athlete. I wrote these because I believe that everyone can benefit from the powerful mental techniques that the world’s best athletes use. I have been cited in Runners World, Best Health magazine (CN), SWEAT Magazine, and the Washington Examiner amongst many other publications. I have been a featured mental games coach in Runner’s World and for the internationally acclaimed trail running resource - I also regularly appear on sports and fitness talk shows such as LTKFitness, Runnersroundtable and for more than three years I have co-hosted a weekly video series with Coach Joe English for I specialize in mental toughness training. My clients include tennis, synchronized swimming, golf, race-kart, soccer, motocross, volleyball, MMA, cycling (road, off-road, time-trialist), running, duathlon and triathlon, basketball, football and baseball athletes. I have coached world-class athletes and athletes internationally. I have a passion for working with youth athletes and helping them apply mental game skills and techniques to all areas of life. Most importantly, my aim is to have people enjoy sports and life to their fullest through peak performances.
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