Saturday, January 5, 2013

Back in the running

It's been a while since I wrote a post about running.  I know, until recently it had been a while since I posted about anything.  But I haven't had anything particularly wonderful to say about running, so why bother?

I was plagued by tendonitis in my right foot for all of August and part of September, and had to take that time off from running altogether.  That's what you get when you ignore a twinge and run nine miles on the Dreadmill.  I should know better after running for over 13 years with plenty of I-ignored-the-twinge injuries in that time . . . three stress fractures, a pulled hip flexor, patellofemoral syndrome, ileotibial band problems, lots of pulled muscles, and now tendonitis.  But this latest injury was the straw that finally broke this camel's back.

After taking more than a month off, I finally started up again.  Slowly.  As in a mile three times a week.  Why so slow?  Because I also finally started running in minimalist footwear!  For those of you who have no idea what I am talking about, minimalist footwear (generally) has no lift between your heel and forefoot and none of the conventional running shoe cushioning, so you are essentially forced to change your stride to a mid- or forefoot strike.  Your foot acts like a spring and absorbs the force, instead of your knees/hips.

I had been thinking of making the change to minimalist/barefoot running for literally several years, but the time never seemed right.  When I was first toying with the idea of barefoot running, I went for a three mile run barefoot, and it felt great.  I loved it . . . thought it would be super easy to switch.

Then I attempted to get out of bed the next morning, and my calves had decided to scrunch up into little balls of anger and didn't want to walk or go up and down stairs for the next three days.  After three days of controlled falling to get down the stairs, I decided my good ole' cushioned Asics and heelstrike were just fine for me.

Just over a year ago my sister started running in minimalist footwear, and is now doing consistently higher mileage weeks than I have ever been able to maintain without injury.  Even now she is recovering from an injury sustained not from running itself but from falling when running in crazy cold and icy conditions.  Whoops.

Fortunately, I have a wonderful physical therapist for a husband, who has helped me get going again safely.  I bought a pair of Merrell minimalist trail shoes and was off and running!  Now, after three long months of building back up, I am running almost 20 miles a week with a long run of six miles.  And after three long months of slogging along, I can feel the difference in how I am running.  Stronger, with more energy . . . and faster.  Today I gradually picked up the pace to finish out my six mile run with two miles at a 7:40 pace.  (Yay for my Christmas Garmin!)

I am thankful to be able to run again, and crazy excited for the coming summer's races.  And when I don't want to get out of bed in the morning, I remind myself that not so very long ago I couldn't run and should thank God that I am able to, instead of being grumpy. Of course, as my sister can attest, sometime my run starts off a little grumpy anyway, but the fresh air and good company usually fixes that pretty quickly.

Run on!

1 comment:

Beth said...

Hooray! I love minimalist footwear. :) I haven't had a major injury since, with the exception of my random hip problem... I saw a chiropractor and identified that I overpronate significantly on my left side. I (unhappily, I admit; I wanted to be a purist) put my orthotics into my minimalist shoes, and I think I'm back! It's been since September and my hip is much, much better. I feel twinges here and there but not the kind I worry about. I wonder if that overpronation was responsible for ALL of of my (*always* left-sided) injuries in college? Achilles tendinitis, repeated calf strains, stress fx, knee, hip. All on my left side. Hmm... I did have orthotics for part of that time, though, so - I dunno! :)

As for morning grumpiness before a run, I get up at 5 to run (and now 4:55, so I have a few minutes to scrape my window!). I ALWAYS want to scrap it. I ALWAYS groan inwardly (and sometimes outwardly!) when I hear my alarm. And then I am sitting on the lid of the toilet, brushing my teeth, considering texting my running partner and just backing out... EVERY day. Every single time. The thing is, I LOVE it once I'm out there! LOVE IT. One morning it occurred to me with a little laugh: why on earth do I trust how I feel at 5 a.m.? Why do I even listen? It takes about 10 minutes to 'wake up,' so by the time I'm in my car and on my way to run, I'm fine.

Kudos to you for battling back after injury. It is a long and frustrating road, but on the other side of it? B2B. Another half (or full!) marathon. Maybe a Ragnar relay. Maybe a running "date" with friends for a big race. You know? So worth it. Good job being patient - you have earned the payoff.

Longest comment ever?? :)

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