Every summer, as we know, I take up running.
Every summer, I end up giving it up because my knees can't take it.
I mentioned this when I was home in April, and my brother said, "You have to start slow."
The more I thought about this, the more I realized that he might be right. Because of my fighting class in Universe City, my running has historically been limited not by my lung capacity (I can go out and run three miles if I decide I want to do so) but by my leg muscles, which get tired because running is a different motion than everything else I do. I began to wonder whether, by starting out with a three mile run, I have been introducing my muscles to running too quickly and maybe they haven't able to stabilize my knees because they are so tired.
The last time I ran without knee pain was in and immediately after Rwanda. The way I started running that time was by walking. I walked up and around the hill above my house, and then I walked down and around the peninsula behind my house, and then I walked over and around the bay where I lived. At some point, walking got to be not quite enough exercise, and I started adding running bits. It was only a few feet at first, but eventually I ran more and more, and soon I was running 45 minutes at a time.
I'm trying that again.
Last week I went and had my stride analyzed and bought a new pair of running shoes. (I had been running in a pair of trail shoes that I bought in 2005, before I went to Tanzania. This was perhaps not the best idea ever. Before that, I had been running in a pair of Nikes that were too wide for my feet and therefore had to be laced tight to keep my foot from sliding around, only that hurt my arches, so I laced them loose and then did kung fu on concrete and did something terrible to my foot and the back of my heel hurt for a year.)
Friday night, I started out in my new shoes. I walked, and then I ran, and then I walked again. I think I ran about 8 blocks. Today, I did the same. I think I ran about 10 blocks, in one or two block increments.
It was hard to stop at a block or two. The competitive side of me wants to keep going, to keep running. But I have to keep that in check, and maybe, with time, I'll be able to call myself a runner once again.