Sunday, February 27, 2011

The Simple Joy of Running

I have just returned from my first real run since my injury. It felt SO amazing to run! I forgot how much I simply enjoy running. Especially on a day like today when it's in the low 60's and I'm just going out for something very easy.

Wednesday, Feb. 23 marked the 4-week point of no running. The time actually went by pretty quickly. I had been mainly pain free walking around for two weeks, so I decided to give it a shot. I had been to two separate doctors and a physical therapist, and none of them gave me a concrete answer on when to start running again. But everyone agreed that my bone stimulator machine would reduce healing time. Both doctors told me I just needed to really monitor my symptoms and back off if I was feeling pain. But one doctor said it wouldn't be pain free, and some pains during/after were normal. But anything that was more than a minor twinge and I should back off.

I was feeling very frustrated with all the ambiguity. I was very anxious to get back into running, but I didn't want my four weeks off to have gone to waste by my foolishness. So on Wednesday I attempted my first run. I used a treadmill, which was dumb, because that's how I think I got the stress fracture to begin with. But I wanted to do the run-walk prior to my pool run and there are treadmills at the facility where my pool is, so it was the most convenient option. I set the treadmill to a conservative 5.4. I did feel a bit of something. I did two sets of 5 mins walking, 5 mins running and then stopped. Later that day I was having more pain in my shin than normal so I was discouraged.

But the more I thought about it, I remembered what the doctor saying about it not being pain-free, and my 5.4 miles per hour was unnaturally slow for me, which could have contributed to the awkwardness. So I decided to give it another go today (four days after the first attempt) and run outside. It was so beautiful out and I had my husband to accompany me, which was awesome. I was afraid that the run would hurt and that I would become discouraged, so having my husband for moral support was a huge help. I even wore my brand new Pacers Ambassadors shirt in honor of the occasion!

I did three sets of (5 mins walking, 5 mins running). We covered 2.52 miles total, and the run portion was just over 1.5 miles at an average pace of 9:41.

The first run section was a 10:04 pace and it felt rather easy. The next run portion was a 9:38 pace and that also felt really easy. The last run portion was a 9:22, and it still felt easy and pain-free. Yay! I was overcome with joy at the simple act of running outdoors without pain. I was also pretty excited about how easy those paces felt. When I was returning to running after my foot injury in October of 2009, a 10:00 pace felt like an 8:30 pace. But today, all of my paces felt exactly as they had felt prior to the injury. Now, I only ran for five minutes at a time, which is no indicator of where I am truly at fitness wise. But it was encouraging that it felt exactly as it did before the injury.

As for keeping my fitness up, I have been spending a lot of time water running, swimming and using the elliptical. I've actually spent more hours doing these activities then I would have normally spent running. For example, yesterday I did water running for 2.5 hours. This morning, I did water running again for 1.5 hours, and then finished it off with a 20-minute swim. And then later in the afternoon I did the run I just described. As for the elliptical, I have been using that about twice a week and doing it at a tempo effort. Usually I break the tempo effort into two sets, because it's just so unbearably hot in my gym and I need a break. But I think it's been effective. If I take my hands off the machine and use them as if I was running, it almost feels like running when going at the fast speed.

It's going to be a few more weeks until my running is intense enough to have any fitness benefits. And it will probably be another 2-3 months before my mileage can be where it was pre-injury. But I am going to my best to be patient. I want to be one of those success stories of an injured runner who came back stronger and faster! I'll be back in the pool tomorrow and Tuesday, and make another running attempt on Wednesday, so long as the shin behaves between now and then.

Special thanks to Cristina, Cheryl, Kathy and all of the others who have supported me and given me guidance throughout this injury! It's far from over, but I think I am heading in the right direction.

15 comments:

  1. Yay! This is exciting news! I think that keeping the pool running and keeping at it while introducing the running back is a wise idea. I think you a)have the right approach and b)will meet the goal of coming back faster & stronger! I'm excited for you and I'm glad we've finally gotten to hook up for some pool runs! ;)

    Your swimming form is magnificent!

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  2. That is so exciting! You are definitely doing the smart thing by easing back slowly. I look forward to reading about your awesome recovery!

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  3. Congrats! You are going to get right back to where you were in no time - and you will be faster! I can't imagine not running - so I feel for you and I am praying for your quick recovery!

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  4. Yayyyy!!!! Elizabeth!!! Sooo happy for YOU!

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  5. I'm so glad you're running again and that your first real run was so successful! Sounds like you're doing everything right! Keep up the good work!!

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  6. I'm happy to read this! I'm laid up right now with Meniscus issues....very frustrating. Reading this though makes me think I'll be back running full blast soon. Good luck!

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  7. I'm glad you're moving forward, but please be careful! It's something I have to keep reminding myself of, but you really do need to take it day by day.

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  8. I'm glad you're feeling better. I hate the treadmill, too.

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  9. ^ Btw, this is Dori, I changed my google name for my cooking blog.

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  10. Congrats! Sounds like you're being really smart by doing the walk/run thing for a bit and ramping up slowly. As for the fitness, the pool running makes such a huge difference. I'm really excited for you!

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  11. Yay! I think you are being smart about it. I also did the 5 run/5 walk when I started back after injury - it helped to focus on the "yay I'm running" rather than on the "darn I'm walking" aspect, and it sounds like you've got the right mental attitude.

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  12. Yay, that's great. I can tell in your tone that you're in the best possible mindset for dealing with this, and that's half the battle. You'll come back stronger, both physically and mentally, after taking the time to heal up.

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  13. i'm so excited to see this! congrats on a great first run back, and many more!

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  14. Thanks for all the supportive comments, guys!

    Harold- I saw about your knee issues on the Ambassadors group. That's gotta be tough-- Hang in there!

    Cris- Day by day is key. I had been hoping to run on Saturday, but given that I had more pain than I wanted to on my Wednesday run, I did not. But I felt great all day Sunday, so I thought Sunday afternoon would be fine for having another go at it.

    Amy- I am still skeptical about the pool running thing because I don't feel like my HR is getting up there enough. But we shall see! Cristina is a good example that it does work.

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  15. So happy to read this. Your patience, ability to set realistic goals, and awesome attitude are remarkable and will carry you far. You go, Girl!
    Debbie J-R

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