A funny thing happened when I got off the treadmill yesterday; namely, I didn't hurt. Is this the magical turning point I have been seeking? Is this the sign from the running heavens that life may be returning to normal? Is this what I needed before I could start committing to some ideas of what I wanted my race year to look like?
The short answer to all those questions is I don't know.
What I do know is that for the first time in many weeks, I feel a glimmer of hope. And, it is amazing how - once you allow yourself that one whisper of hope to creep in - an avalanche of optimism follows.
It all started Wednesday, the day I had the big stabbing pain of a setback on my road to recovery, the day I became filled with despair that this injury would never go away. Was that my darkest hour? The dark before the dawn? Because one thing came of that stabbing pain and the countless hours of venting to anyone who would listen afterwards, and that was the determination to figure out what the hell I was doing wrong. And, barring finding the answer to that, then to at least figure out what I may be doing right.
You see, I think on the road to injury recovery I may focus a bit too much on the negative. What hurts, when it hurts, why does it hurt? I don't pay nearly as much attention to the positive: when does it feel okay, what things make it marginally less painful?
In talking to my friends and reviewing my training log, what I came up with was that in all these short runs I have been doing at the track, I finally noticed a time when my leg felt better - and that was after walk breaks. I have typically been running about two miles on the track before taking a walk break. I would then run another half mile, take a walk break, and then run another half mile - for three miles total. Well, what finally occurred to me is that I have been feeling marginally better after those walk breaks. Not fantastic, but marginally better. The fact that walk breaks might be helping should have come as no surprise; I have, after all, been a huge fan of Jeff Galloway's method on and off over the years.
So, yesterday, when I decided I would give the treadmill a go, I opted to go back to the Galloway method, a method that someone once told me is a great tool to have especially when recovering from injury. Why it didn't occur to me before, I will never know.
Anyway, I got on the machine and opted to do a 3:1 run:walk for three miles. Although I continued to notice the tightness while running (and walking), the big difference was when I got off the treadmill. I didn't have any lingering soreness or weirdness all of yesterday, and today all I feel is the teensiest bit of tightness hanging in there. I felt probably 70 percent better than after any other run I have done in the past month and a half.
Although I know things are not back to normal, for the first time in a long time I see the light at the end of the tunnel and I have hope that things are on the mend.
Riding that wave of optimism are my first thoughts of races this year. I had really put aside any plans for organized events (read: things I have to pay for). But with this I feel I can finally give some thought to what I would like to do, even if in the end it turns out I can't do them.
So, as a show of good faith, I did sign up for one race and have turned my attention to a handful of others I might want to do.
First on this year's agenda of hope is the Zumbro 17-Mile Trail Run, which is the one I actually put money down on. This is part of a 100 and 50-Mile event put on by the good folks at Rock Steady Running (home of the Fall Superior Races the husband and I did last September). I am really excited about this because it will get me out on some new trails, and RSR really does put on a good event. Because I'll be part of the "short" race, I will get all the perks of the longer event - kickass aid stations, food, etc., - without the commitment. A win/win for me. Additionally, since this is the short add-on race, I will get a crazy long cutoff of nine hours. So, if things really still aren't going well, I know I can walk this event and still finish.
Beyond Zumbro, there are a few other races on the agenda of hope - nothing I have signed up for yet but ones I am interested in....like Keweenaw again, for example. The husband is signed up for Leadville this year, and that is really exciting. He has mentioned the possibility of me pacing him for the last 13 miles, which I thought rather silly until he explained that I would be his mule. (Ah, it all becomes clear.) So, I could look forward to crewing overnight and then joining him on what would surely be one of the most interesting experiences in my running life to date. We'll see.
I am under no illusion that I am free and clear of this running injury yet. I will still continue to follow my plan - such as it is - that I wrote about last time. Cross-train, short run/walks, PT exercises, and yoga. But now I will go about it all a little more optimistically. Only time will tell if I have really turned the corner on this, but I once again have hope.
Afternoon Update: Completed 30-minutes of rowing, including intervals, and still remain pain-free. Still a bit of tightness lingers, and that worries me, but this is by far the best two days I have had in a long while. Oh, happy me!
Wellness Project Update: Completed Days 3 and 4 without a hitch. Huge salads both days for lunch. Seeing as I really do love my veggies, this hasn't been too hard, but I am getting a bit bored with the salad. I might have to try for a smoothie tomorrow.
Run with Joy!