At 3:39pm on Saturday January 25 a streak was broken – 89 days after my first doctor’s appointment (and being trapped in a walking cast for 2 months), I hit the pavement.
I may have cried a few times – leading up to the run and towards the start of my cooldown, but before you start making any judgments or jumping to conclusions – hear me out. As I mentioned in my declutter post last week, that since August, my everyday has felt like a roller coaster of changes, demands, and just those things no one person can control – a wedding, a new job, a honeymoon, trying to get pregnant, and this nagging injury (the last 2 I have been unable to control, especially hard for this Type A personality) – and all of the other items in between.
So yesterday afternoon, as I put on my running clothes, pulled on my new sneakers and plugged my ears with my airpods to help flood my head with sounds to drown out the doubt – I felt like the last few months of feeling smothered by expectations, perceived failures and a lot of sadness, had come to a literal halt. The streak was shattered.
I was in control.
Walking out the door to feel the cool air on my face and the pavement under my sneakers suddenly brought a wave of emotion rushing over me as I made the turn onto the bike path – I teared up questioning whether I was making the right decision and truly worried that I (or my body) would just simply let myself down. Talking to a friend on Instagram (Kate) really made me feel like I wasn’t alone in this doubt and hesitation around my body’s ability. But I knew deep down inside that my instincts, my training, my support network and my drive had pulled me out of that dark space a few months ago and because of all of this, I had to trust the process.
So you’ve been injured, so you’ve been sick and stopped training, so you’ve had a busy schedule and some setbacks – so what?
Even if you haven’t trained for a marathon or any other longer distance – you anecdotally know – you don’t just get up and run a marathon in 1, 2 or even 5 days – it’s a gradual process. The so what for me was realizing that THIS time I had to be very mindful of the PROCESS and learn to listen to my body (thank you Drs. Ryan and Hester for making me understand this).
Listening and trusting are one thing, but having a real plan is a whole other component I had to wrap my arms around. Luckily having such an incredible physical therapy partner gave me the faith that while it had been over 89 days since my last run, that I had worked hard to create a solid base to start again.
The plan was simple
- Re-building the strength base – this has been something I embraced after my first marathon but became my absolute go-to during this injury. During physical therapy, these muscle groups were the central part of rebuilding the base:
- Hips – band walks, clam shells, bridges – all of these exercises I do with religious vigor every other day (an earlier post has some videos for these exercises here)
- Calves – something admittedly I had completely overlooked before, but knowing that I had the world’s tightest calves, I started to see the correlation between my injuries (past and present) and my tension. Calf raises and a whole lot of massage via this roller stick (legit a godsent) – link here (cheap and you will thank me later)
- Feet – retraining my feet makes up about 50% of my PT exercises, toe and arch lifts and a lot of band work has brought my tendon and feet back to life (earlier post has some videos for these exercises here)
- Run, run, run – so many folks from all over my support network had cautioned me to take it slow as I get back into running. But what does slow look like? I crumbled when I realized it (initially) consisted of 1-min runs, followed by LOTS of walking.
- The Plan – I had to find a plan that embraced a gradual increase in mileage/time but also honored the process of coming back after injury. I found this amazing run/walk plan here – I loaded the first two phases back into running in my Garmin and tested out Phase III / Stage 1 yesterday.
- The Initial Reaction – quite simply, it was a total of 5-6 min of total running but honestly, I had to get over myself. I was a total headcase in the first few increments of the Stage 1 plan yesterday – overly sensitive about other runners judging me for walking (even over compensating by wearing my Chicago Marathon Finishers jacket to help establish some street cred). My friend Jill gently (but bluntly) told me that it was all in my own head – her words “do you!!! No one really cares” (if you know Jill, you know she’s a straight shooter and is my role model for doing your own thing). But I knew she was completely right. It will be my challenge to manage but I will let it go and say “who cares?” because no one else can do this plan for me.
So over the next few weeks, I’ll be checking in on the status of this plan – decluttering and cataloging some outfit ideas will certainly free up the time I’ll need each morning to hit the path and get back out there!
Who else has some post-injury plans or exercises or even mental training that helped to get you back on track?
If you see me out there, would love a high-five to help keep the morale up! Here goes nothing!