Like most serious runners, Jim Adams of Baltimore is part shrink, part philosopher, part athlete. When he learned yesterday of President Bush's recent injuries, he all but winced in sympathy.
"Happens to all of us," says the owner of Falls Road Running Store. "You rarely know what the problem is. I don't know his diagnosis, but I can tell you this: I've got what he has."
Adams, an 18-time marathoner who normally logs 40 to 70 miles a week, may be a more rarefied athlete than Bush, but even the best must reckon with the buildup of aches and pains that comes with age.
"It tends to be the accumulation of a thousand minor injuries," the 48-year-old Adams said. "When they heal, scar tissue forms over the muscle fibers, and the fibers won't slide the way they should. And you never know when it's going to happen."
Others agree it's not time for the First Runner to panic. "Anybody over 40 will have arthritis," said Bill Howard, M.D., director of the Sports Medicine Center at Baltimore's Union Memorial Hospital. "But a painful knee is not a heart attack. It won't kill you."
The pain, though, can be hard to avoid. When it flares up, there are remedies.
Adams' store sells "little massage sticks" that can help a sore calf. "You roll them up and down your calf," he said, "and that constant stretching works out the scar tissue." He also recommends "deep-tissue, cross-friction massage" for what ails Bush.
"It's really very painful," he said with a laugh, adding: "And no, I'm not a Democrat."
Some adjustments might be mainly psychological. Adams sees Bush as a hard-driving guy who might push himself to come back too soon.
"I could see him firing up the treadmill and - well, there you go again," said Adams, who has been sidelined by injury himself for the past two weeks.
Quitting altogether would be too much, though, especially for an aging runner. "Running is a good time to relax," said Howard. "[And] it strengthens the muscles to protect the knee. The president could ease up but he shouldn't stop."
Bush seems no more likely to do that than Adams, who is already chomping at the bit to resume his running regime, but trying to be patient.
"I'm no different than the president," he said. "As I age, I'm learning how not to go too far, too fast."
Sun Staff Writer Lauren Rosenblum contributed to this article.