Sometimes one good run is all it takes to turn things around.
I’ve had a hard stretch of training for the past two months. I had a solid six-month plan to prepare for my first time running the Boston Marathon when I took a boneheaded chance on a hilly training run in new shoes, thoroughly pissing off my already cranky Achilles. I’ve managed to train through this injury, though with significantly reduced mileage and speed work than I’d hoped for and restricted to running the same flat loops around the park (or a local track when traveling).
It’s been touch and go, with progress and inevitable setbacks. There have been runs where I’ve almost managed to forget I’m injured, and others where I’ve hurt too much to finish a mile. I’m not patient enough as a rule to deal well with this, and with Boston looming large (13 weeks and counting) it’s had me stressed out (understatement!).
Last week was especially hard. I’d been feeling good over the holidays, and felt like I was close to getting back to normal. I returned to Atlanta, started back up with my Graston treatment (which – while painful – has helped a lot, but inevitably leads to a few days of touchy painful runs). Unfortunately, I didn’t bounce back as I have most weeks after treatment, and by last Monday (after a tough 9-mile run on Sunday) I was really hurting.
I had what should have been an easy 4-mile run on my schedule for Monday afternoon. But after a day on my feet at work I was in pain before I even started. I finished, but slow, hurting, discouraged, and afraid by the end. The thought of 14 weeks kept going through my mind – I don’t have time for another setback.
Tuesday was a day to reassess, talking with my trainer, coach and chiropractor. One last Graston treatment, and a new direction starting this week (shock wave therapy- sounds scary, right? But less scary than not being able to train the way I want.). More stretching and mobility. More work on my form. More pool running. More laps around the 800 meter flat soft track at the park.
Wednesday was cold and foggy, but I managed a 3-mile run with a few strides at the end, and even a little speed work in the cold rain on Thursday without any new trouble. More cross-training on Friday, and much-needed recovery day on Saturday.
A set out for my long run on Sunday afternoon, determined to enjoy the blue skies and warm weather after a week of cold, rain, pain, and worry. Ten miles on an 800 meter track isn’t exactly something to look forward to, but the park was crowded and there was (as always) plenty of good people-watching.
It was a good run, just when I needed it. Not perfect and certainly not great – but good in a way I’ve not experienced in too long. I felt relaxed and strong. My biggest problem during the first 8 miles was keeping my pace under control. I did tire toward the end, and had some unwelcome tightness that caused some concern, but averaged 9 minute miles without trouble.
I still have a long way to go in the next 13 weeks, but I’m seeing progress. With one good run under my belt, I can finally see a path that will get me where I need to be on April 20. I’m starting new treatment tomorrow that I expect will help to get me there. I’ll almost certainly be reassessing my goals for Boston, but I’m also developing habits and laying a foundation that will allow me to tackle new goals moving forward. It’s time to quit looking back.