A perfectly timed reminder

Yesterday I ran 3 miles.  And it was a struggle.  I was dehydrated, tired, and hadn’t eaten for about 6 hours, so I had a few excuses.  However, I still felt frustrated with how difficult it was.  3 miles used to be a WARM UP!  In my present out-of-shape state it’s a legitimate run – my calves are tired afterwards, I breathe hard, and I have to ice my foot afterwards on bad days.  The thought of actually racing 3 miles is depressingly intimidating.  

Later in the day I sent a link for a race to a former teammate, since she’s been dreaming of doing an ultra since our senior year, and this race has a few longer distance choices – 30, 50, and 100k on trails.  Another former teammate commented on the link, and we all ended up lamenting our dreadful out-of-shape existences.  Let’s just say we’d all had very similar 3-mile run struggles in the last few days.  In spite of our current struggles, we all thought the race looked fun, and chatted about running it together.  In the back of my mind though, I couldn’t help but think about how impossible a 30 or 50 kilometer race sounded.  I’m so out of shape – the race isn’t til summer, but it’s just been so tough getting back into shape and over the foot injury.  I went to bed with the fear of being the out-of-shape caboose on our little trio of alumni lingering in my thoughts.

This morning I found the perfect antidote to my running anxiety – this post on The Local Elite.  Jen is making her comeback from the crazy challenge of bringing a kid into the world, but her return-to-race-shape journey is great inspiration for any sort of running comeback. Today’s post was just what I needed.  Her words on patience and progress when getting back into fitness reminded me that I don’t need to compare my current performance to the high level that I was at two years ago.  

It’s been a long break, with injuries and illness.  I’m starting over basically from scratch, but I still have the experience and base of years of running behind me.  If I stay focused on my current fitness, I’ll be able to savor the journey, rather than stressing about the difference between where I am now and where I was in the past.  Now, just need to take these ideas to heart and keep my head up and eyes forward 🙂

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Winter is coming! Time to come up with next season’s running goals…

 

 

Today’s run was gorgeous – sunny and low 60’s, just right for shorts and my fabulous new arm-sleeves (hurrah for my first running clothes purchase in almost a year!)  However, the cold weather is coming and the view out my window already shows snow dusting the higher peaks of the mountains.  I’ve gotten through my Fall (Aug – Nov) “season” of running, and have met my two goals – paying attention to taking care of my injured foot, and doing some extra work to improve my form and (hopefully!) prevent any other injuries from popping up as I build up my mileage once the foot is healed.  Time to look back at what has gone well, and then look ahead at my running plans for Winter!  

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I’ve succeeded in keeping a schedule of doing 15 minutes of core & hip strength work every other day, and have been rolling/icing/exercising the foot regularly.  And, most important, being very careful to give it a rest when necessary!  Instead of setting new goals each week, I’ve been writing up goals for a couple weeks at a time.  The goal for the next few weeks is to evaluate how well the improvement of my injured foot is going, and to use that information to determine whether or not I can get away with increasing my mileage a bit.  

 

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Trying to determine if a running injury is actually improving can be extremely difficult – it’s such a subjective evaluation, and I find that the emotional involvement that I have with being injured makes any little setback seem way bigger than it actually is.  It can start to seem like an injury will NEVER get better – after all, a few weeks can feel like an eternity of not running.

In order to combat this frustration, and keep myself motivated to stay on top of the foot rehab, I decided to go a little geeky and start a pain chart.  If my foot hurts during any of the main activities that generally aggravate it on bad days, I mark it down.  

 

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So far, it’s been really helpful – I find myself stressing about the injury less since I have specific things to keep track of that let me know if my foot is feeling good, or if it is time to take an extra day off.  It’s also reassuring – even when my foot flares up, keeping track of the incremental return to a lower pain level reassures me that I haven’t set myself back completely.  

Tracking my foot pain will also let me set realistic goals during the end of Fall and the beginning of Winter.  I’m planning to keep track of any pain-free days each week, and add 1 mile per week for every day that I am completely pain-free.  Looking at this week, that gives me a whole mile to add on next week – here I come, 9 mile week!  It’s ridiculous how excited I am about that 1 extra mile ha ha 😉

My winter running will hopefully consist of a steady, gradual mileage build up.  As the days get shorter, this is going to translate into lots of extra reflective gear, headlamp runs, and warm clothes for those dark, chilly morning/night runs 😛 

 

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I can’t wait!!!

 

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First 10-miler in almost a year!

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When I got done with my long run today I was feeling a little underwhelmed.  It had gone much better than last week’s (hurrah for the miracles of nutrition and hydration!) but I struggled on the hills (ran trails today, thus the beautiful view seen above) and found myself feeling panicky about being able to survive the 13.1 hilly miles coming up in two weeks.  However, when I looked back in my running logs I realized that this was the first run over 9 miles that I’ve done since my last half marathon 1 year (minus a couple weeks) ago!

I need to remember to celebrate the small things – I sometime feel like I’m making such laborious, slow progress towards getting back in shape that I become discouraged and don’t enjoy the progress like I should.  However, in the last two months I’ve gone from only being able to tolerate three-mile runs and having shooting pains any time I stood on the ball of my foot to being able to run 10 miles at once with no foot pain during the run and being able to roll up onto the ball of my foot with minimal pain (and sometimes no pain! Woohoo!).  I’m starting to slowly lose the weight I gained while sick/injured and am starting to regain muscle mass, endurance, and strength.  Most importantly, I’m feeling like a runner again!

Here’s to progress!