Yesterday saw me heading back over to my physical therapist's office for a consult with another PT in the practice. PT #1, I guess, wanted a second opinion. I didn't mind, because I know and like PT #2 as well. But, also, I am getting really tired of hurting and want to fix this weird shin problem of mine.
Part of my frustration is that I am getting antsy. Mentally, I am chomping at the bit to get going again, to really run with abandon, not worrying about distance or speed, just get back to the JOY of running. And, not only that, I want to IMPROVE. Title of this blog aside, I don't just want to get back to where I was, I want to get BETTER. There, I have said it. I admit it. I am putting it out there for anyone to see. I have struggled with being average for years, seemingly getting nowhere fast as far as race times are concerned. But, the truth is, that I want to be FASTER. I don't anticipate rising up out of the "average" category, but I want to be a faster average. This past October, I really got bitten by the marathon bug, and I want to do more of them. However, my preference would be to knock my five-hour marathon time down to around four hours. Why? Because if I want to do more of these, I don't want to be out there any longer than I have to. PT #2 thinks it's possible. I just have to design a program to get me there. But, first, of course, I have to get to feeling better.
So, yesterday PT #2 and I had a really nice, long talk about what I have been doing over the past couple of years (and the last couple of months specifically), my plans, and my goals.
After our conversation, if nothing else was clear, this was: I overdid things last year. Going from a two-Half-Marathon-a-year-at-most schedule to five Halves and one Whole in a year probably didn't do my body any good, especially since I really didn't go out of my way to help myself recover and rest in between. She straight out told me that this will most likely not be a busy race year for me. However, she feels that I can get to where I want to be eventually.
Specifically, the upshot of my chat with PT #2 is that this is most likely not a stress fracture, but I now have some signs to look for. I will keep an eye on things and if those signs start creeping in, I will go see a sports med. doc. Basically, it sounds like I am already doing all the right things. I am working hard on improving my general fitness: cross-training, strength-training and flexibility. I am doing the cross-friction massage and foam rolling and stretching religiously. Mainly, the only areas where I can improve are to ice more often and look for different shoes.
I have been tasked with finding a pair of running shoes that have a wider toe box, so my toes can really spread out while running, and less of a heel wedge in the back, so that I have less to overcome with each stride. At this point, I have been advised to stay away from the zero-drop shoes I was looking at, as that would just add one more element to the mix and muddle things. We'll see, though, I really want those shoes. (As a side note, you could have bowled me over the other day when PT #1 said I might be a candidate for barefoot running. Now, I am 99 percent sure she was saying that tongue in cheek, but I still couldn't believe those words passed her lips as I know she has told me in the past she would never advise anyone to run barefoot.)
So, the beat goes on. If I weren't convinced myself that this was a chronic condition that I need to work through, I would be taking myself to an MD tout de suite. And, I might still go that route. For the most part, though, slowly I think things are getting better. It's just going really, really slowly. I wonder if there is any correlation - run slow, recover slow?