There is a common methodology within the running and fitness community for recovery from intense training and injuries. It’s Called R.I.C.E. (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation). This is a pretty fail proof way to recover from many running induced injuries. From sprains, to knee pain, tweaked muscles and anything short of a compound fracture. That being said, if you currently have a bone sticking out of your skin, please hurry up and finish reading this and then get to the hospital. What do we do though, when there isn’t enough RICE in the world to fix your problem? What do we do when rest isn’t possible, ice is just cold, compression sounds too much like depression and an elevator to the third floor is your current form of elevation? What do we do when the only recovery we have is what causes all our injuries in the first place, running?
A short version of a long story. In 1998, I followed my oldest brother to our beloved Las Vegas to live. For years we lived together and did everything together. When I left for the military my new family lived with him while I was gone. My younger brothers all took their turn living with him before moving back home or going on their own. All our lives seemed to live in his orbit. Things were great, until they weren’t. My brother fell under the curse of one the greatest evils our country knows. Almost over night everything he was, was gone. The guy we all knew and loved was gone, not physically but emotionally. He was replaced with some dude that I had no desire to know. After a few years of us seeing eachother begrudgingly every 6 months or so, the relationship completely ended. That was until I received a phone call on Super Bowl Sunday, 2016. My brother was in the hospital and was in bad shape. My next three weeks revolved around work and hospital visits. My wife and I would go to the hospital every night after work. For the very first time in my life I felt real stress and real despair. I was watching my brother and my hero die right in front of me. I had one saving grace, one thing that kept me from completely cracking; the dirt. My dad always told us when we were injured as kids, “rub some dirt on it”. I took his advice. Any moment I could slip out, I’d find some dirt and run. As I’ve mentioned before, when trail running, your brain is singularly focused on the current happenings. It’s hard to think about the hospital and what is going on there, when your focus is on breathing and not breaking your neck. I used to run like crazy, then find a rock to sit on. I’d sit for a moment and think. I wouldn’t think about my brother, I’d think about my rock.
I realized during those runs, that we all need a rock. It may be a literal rock, it may be a person (sitting on them is optional), a bench press bench, a bicycle, a pair of skates or the tire your flipping. Without our rocks, we can get sucked into life and the turd bombs it throws our way. After my brother died, I left my parents, siblings, and wife and ran to my rock. I got angry, I cried, and I laughed. After a few minutes of maddening emotions, I stood up and started running down my trail of recovery. I didn’t need rest, ice, compression, or elevation. I needed some dirt, a few hills and the sound of life very rapidly entering and escaping my lungs.