Last weekend on my run and had a back spasm doing a route that I can almost do blindfolded. It is out 2 miles to the end of the street then back via side streets to add elevation and is roughly 5 miles give or take when I turn on the Garmin and if I cut corners. At the 1.5 mile I felt so good it worried me. I was running 20 sec/mi under my average and it was during the heat of the day. At mile 2 my back tightened and it stopped me dead in my tracks after that point all I could muster was a shuffle.
The frustrating thing about this run is that I have felt this exact pain before. Three times to be exact. The first was circa late 2009, when the market took a dive due to the housing industry. The drop caused a lot of seasoned people (10+ yrs of service) to be let go. In those dark days were all under the gun and feared “downsizing,” “restructuring” and “enhanced resource sharing” or whatever line management threw out there to explain why severance packages were handed out like happy meals.
I was walking to my car after my shift and my back froze up. I hobbled to my truck a’ la Frankenstein. I sat in my truck with tears streaming down my face pissed off because I could not move. I waited until I recovered mobility and took side streets the 25 miles home. I missed a few days of work because I simply could not even roll to my side without pain.
Next was May 2011 Bishop High Sierra; I had the same pain. Mind you I was running an ultra marathon at the time…but the hurt was familiar. I had run with a pack for weeks in prep for this race and at the 10 mile mark the pain started in my upper back and did not leave me for the whole race, 15+ hours. By the end I was walking crooked and hobbling and I paid for the effort with a week of stiffness and hurt (note: need to buy stock in Advil or whoever makes them). I was “unable” (focus on “ “) to attend a function integral to what I do and that caused a lot of stress. The date of this event I missed = day of the race. Being “unable” to attend cleared my calendar but screwed my back again out of the blue. I actually even had other people around me ask if I was ok and ask why certain groups were being so hard and condescending to me, but I shrugged it off attributing to a stressful time for all of us.
July 2, 2011. The week prior this run was a tougher work week where vacations and schedule coordinating made it impossible to get everything done that had to be. In addition there was another “issue” that I knew was going to come back and it what do you know it did. Today I got the “pre-warning” to the “real warning” warning me that potential “real warnings” are in the works but may not be realized depending on the preliminary review needing to be done to establish if a real warning or just the warning of a “real warning” was enough for the situation. Yeah, I cannot even imagine the scrutiny that goes into these sorts of things, but honestly I am really over it. It is what it is and I am not ripping anyone a new one here. But that’s not the point I am trying to make here.
My back spasms have coincided with periods of high stress in my life. I know I feel my stress in the neck area and it seems that during times of higher stress my back locks up. There is no other way to describe it. I refuse to allow these work stress take over my life. I want to continue being a healthy happy person but I feel that these things really affect me at a subconscious level that I don’t know how to control. I don’t know how much an athlete’s psyche influences their performance and makes them prone to injuries but I reckon it is significant. It bums me out that these “issues” are following me home, but I am determined to be better and solve them both at work and at home so the skeletons of quarter’s past don’t haunt the races of years to come.