Getting Back to the Basics

Is there a point where you feel that you have to get back to the basics and start all over again? Your fitness program can be interrupted by family, work, injury, and health issues.

The initial reaction is to try to figure out how long you will be out of commission. The amount of time will be based upon the situation.

The family and the work issues are easier to gauge the time. The injury issues will be determined by the seriousness, as each will take different time to heal. For instance, a muscle strain can be shorter than an Achilles heel tear.

As runners progress, there is that desire to want to run a marathon because it is fashionable and everyone does it. It may be easy to make the decision to run 26.2 miles and then be on your feet for 4 to 6 hours for an average runner. It is not the race day but the amount of training that will be required.

As the person starts with the training, and the distance of the runs begin to increase, the body will send signals that injuries will start to surface. The common areas are the knees, shins, hips, and lower back. This could be the sign that a marathon is not the desired distance.

The alternative is to find that distance which your body can handle and you stay injury free. Why suffer through a race to sustain an injury that could have you out of commission for weeks?

Health issues can cause additional setbacks and it gets to be emotional. You begin to question how you arrived at that point and if you did something wrong.

Please indulge me on the following personal story which started back in 2015. It has been a journey where I have had questions like what is going on in my body and where did I go wrong?

It was September, 2015 when I was diagnosed with a leaky mitral heart valve and I was informed that at some point some action would be needed. I was able to continue to run marathons and 50-milers. The difference was that the speed was diminished. But the endurance remained. The pace which was 11 to 12 minutes slowed over the years to 13 to 15 minutes.

You make the mental adjustments to accept what you are doing at the time and not what you used to do. The leg speed had left and running a 10K under 40 minutes was a thing of the past. In the sport, you accept what is in front of you when there are things which you cannot change.

The change which took place was accepting that the long runs were not as far. How do you get the ultra-marathon running thoughts out of the mind? As you continue with your fitness program it begins to grow on you and it gets to be natural as breathing.

In May of 2015, I ran my 110th marathon and a few weeks later I had a follow up test which revealed that the leaking valve had progressed to a point where a decision had to be made to take corrective action. I continued to run for 30 days with the thought of what decision I had made.

In our minds, we are all athletes and we are good at what we do. I had to continue running for 30 days and the thoughts raced across the spectrum. What did it feel like? What is it that you like the most and how would you feel if that was taken away? How would you handle the mental adjustments?

There is much to be said about being in physical shape and a healthy eating lifestyle. The date of July 10, 2017 goes into the memory banks as the day surgery was performed.

The heart surgery has set me back to square one and back to basics.

Six weeks after the surgery, I was back in the gym but reduced to walking on the treadmill. The pace was nothing to win any awards and the pace was 20 minutes for a mile. You might think this was humbling, but it was a milestone. The following days were spent using the recumbent cycle and the elliptical. Now I am up to doing 10 miles for four days a week.

The surgeon gave a green light to run a marathon in October. The temptation has been great to turn off the competitive drive to get back out on the road. It has been a mental struggle to do the right thing. I have embraced the decision to delay all racing plans until January, 2018 to start the gradual training.

The journey to January will be slow as the time on the equipment will be increased. The challenge over the next months will be how to adjust to getting back to basics. I have embraced that walking is a good start. The objective is to stay focused and the new plan is to set new goals and to achieve what lies beyond tomorrow.

What will it take for you to get back to basics?


About George Banker

George Banker is the Operations Manager for the Army Ten-Miler (US Army / MDW), the second largest 10-mile road race in the Unites States and this year the race will accept 35,000 runners. The responsibilities include the operational planning, logistics, community outreach, designing of the course, volunteer recruitment, and support to medical and police jurisdictions. Started August 2003. Prior to joining the Army Ten-Miler he worked 25 years at IBM serving in administration and management within the federal marketing environment in Bethesda, Maryland. Retired from the U.S. Air Force (Enlisted grade Technical Sergeant) Experience include ground refueling supervisor and cryogenic fluids production supervisor. He received 14 military decorations including the Air Force Commendation Medal, Vietnam Service Medal, Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross w/Palm, and Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal (1969-1989). Since 1983, a freelance photographer and journalist, Senior Writer for the Runner’s Gazette, contributor to Running Journal newspaper, and RunWashington. District of Columbia Road Runners Club (DCRRC) Hall of Fame Inductee for 2006 The former president and meet director for the Mid-Atlantic Corporate Athletic Association Relays (1986-1993). Director for the Washington’s Birthday Marathon Relay (1989-1999), started the Relay. Race consultant, and steering committee member with the following events: Credit Union Cherry Blossom 10 Mile Run (1989), George Washington’s Parkway Classic 5K/10 Miler, Lawyer’s Have Heart 10K, Marine Corps Marathon (Historian - Ad Hoc Publicity Committee) , Navy Half Marathon & 5-Miler, and Woodrow Wilson Bridge Half Marathon. State Record Keeper USA Track & Field, 1993 to present. Chair, Trends and Issues Committee, Road Runners Club of America (RRCA) 1993-2000. Member USA Track and Field Hall of Fame. Avid runner, 99 marathons completed and serve in additional capacity as race announcer, media relations, and invited elite runner coordinator for several local area races. Six JFK 50 Miler completed to date. The Marine Corps Marathon in October 2014 will be my 100th marathon and my 31st time running it. Author of “The Marine Corps Marathon A Running Tradition” (1976-2006) September 2007 publish date. Completed 30 MCM’s to date (2013). ( December 2006 MetroSports Athlete of the Month Hall of Fame Inductee 2011 – Marine Corps Marathon Running PRs: Marathon 3:04:32 (’88) Houston-Tenneco, Half-Marathon 1:22:40 (’84) Philadelphia Distance Run, 10-Miles 1:02:10 (’87) Army Ten-Miler, 10K 37:42 (’84) Diabetes Derby, 5K 18:28 (’88) Stanford University, 1600 Meters 5:18 (’87) Gallaudet University. Graduated with an AA in Accounting from Prince George’s Community College with honors, Largo, MD (’76), and a BBA in Accounting from George Washington University, Washington, DC (’84). Educational community involvement: Volunteer speaker, Connection Resource Bank, Division of Family and Community Partnerships, Montgomery County Public Schools (1995- Present)

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