On the advice of the doc and the physical therapist, I tried my first tiny bit of "light jogging" last night. It was a complete and abysmal failure. The first three minutes hurt, but I can stand pain. Then the next two minutes hurt a lot, which made me start to worry. At that point (and remember we are talking only 5 minutes of jogging here) everything in my left hip and thigh just seemed to seize up completely. I am experienced enough to know the difference between pain that I can run through and pain that is telling me, "Hey you, stop, right now, and I mean it!"
So I walked back home, slowly. Sigh.
The pessimistic view would be that I'm just not going to come back from this latest injury. It's not healing, even with medical intervention. I'm done.
The optimistic view would be that it's just a little too early for me to try jogging. The piriformis is still not settled down, and perhaps there are still some underlying issues with my balance and alignment that need to be addressed before I can run again. I am simply not yet healed.
I prefer to be an optimist, but I will admit it's getting harder and harder to maintain that perspective.
I think what I'm going to do for now is limit myself to cycling for the next few weeks. I've used the bike to help bring myself back from injuries a few times before, so I'm hoping that it's going to be an effective method once more.
The bottom line is that I'm not going to be running the races I'd hoped to in August and September (the NYRR Club Team Champs, and the Reach the Beach Relay in New Hampshire, along with a couple of trail races). I feel pretty lousy about this. It's been a depressing summer in terms of running, and I'm not convinced that much is going to change this fall. I am going to take the pressure off completely, and not even think about racing for the rest of this year. I have to face the fact that I'm not even anywhere near jogging at this point, much less being able to run hard in competition.
I guess that 2009 was simply not my year for running, and I should just stop worrying about it.