As you can imagine, it's pretty difficult to gain confidence when you are sick and unable to run for nine days in a row. But I'm up to the challenge, so I will do a "review" or "postmortem" of my illness and return to running. I'll start with a summary of what I am reviewing.
Monday, June 18: Easy run of 6.8 miles in the morning, throat started to hurt later in the day
Tuesday, June 19: Hill workout with my team, feeling sluggish and lethargic
Wednesday, June 20- Thursday June 28: Nine days of no running
Friday: 2.5 miles at 9:54 average pace
Saturday: 4.3 miles at 9:48 average pace
Sunday: 6 miles at 10:30 average pace (4 outdoors, 2 on a treadmill) + 1 mile walk on treadmill incline.
Monday: 6.7 miles at 10:41 average pace
Note: The paces are getting slower, but the distances are getting longer. This is due to having to slow down in later miles to keep my heart rate low.
What went well? What improved?
- I took care of myself while sick-- tried to get plenty of rest
- I am now well enough to go to work
- I am now well enough to run
- I was extremely disciplined about keeping my heart rate in my easy zone so as to not over stress my body, even though that meant running ridiculously slow
- I enjoyed getting outdoors and running, even though it was very hot
- I slowed my pace to ensure that my heart rate stayed within the target range
- I enjoyed being able to wear my favorite running clothes
- The runs felt energized, despite the slow pace (except for Friday) I didn't feel like I was fighting against my illness.
- I didn't take my slow paces to mean that I was out of shape, rather that my body was still using its energy to fight off the illness
- I ate healthy foods while sick (easy-- because my husband is such a great cook)
- I kept well hydrated in the heat-- particularly important because I am on antibiotics
- Focusing on things like my form when I knew I wasn't at all challenging myself with my pace
- Powerwalking up an incline on the treadmill when my heart rate got too high for running- which was a good glute workout
- Not overdoing it when starting to run again-- I would rather feel "good" at a 10:30 pace than overly fatigued at a 9:00 pace.
- Checking my ego at the door and run/walking up hills to keep my heart rate down
- Reminding myself that I put my health first, and I was doing the best I could to return to running healthfully
- Doing a modified version of my planks and other strengthening exercises while sick
- Keeping up with work email, but not letting work stress make me feel guilty for taking time off
What didn't work?
- Coming home from the run and getting upset that I had to adjust my pace so much to stay within heart rate range
- Doing the hill workout after not having gotten much sleep and feeling like I was getting sick
- Getting depressed about the fact that I had this huge setback
- Looking at my training log and realizing that June was my second lowest mileage month of the year, when it had been on target for the second highest.
- Getting upset about missing my trip to San Diego and the fantastic running I would have had
What did I learn?
- If I feel like I am getting sick-- no hard workouts. (Hill workout was a mistake)
- I am still very much emotionally affected by how my running is going. I need to work more on separating my running from my overall self contentment and happiness.
- I can be very patient. . . but I also have a threshold. For me, being sick for more than a week is my threshold. I would like to learn to not have a threshold!
- The rule of thumb is that when you are coming off of an illness, it will take you the same number of days as you missed to get back to the fitness level you were at pre-illness.
- Being a good athlete is about so much more than being fast. It's about discipline, patience, motivation, confidence, and self-awareness. As I was going along at my 10:30 pace (a pace which is even slower than what I ran when I first started running back in 2000), I realized that patience and process are the keys to success. I've known this for awhile, but I felt like I really experienced it as I was able to truly enjoy running at a pace that I might otherwise be embarrassed and ashamed of.
I kept saying to Greg: "a 10:30 average!" and "My last few miles were in the 11's! Can you believe that!!" He thought I was beating up on myself, but I think the obsession over it afterwards was the realization that I actually could swallow my pride, go on a run at that pace, enjoy it, and realize that it was all part of me getting healthy again. It was upsetting to me because my patience was wearing thing and I desperately wanted to be running at my regular paces, but I was also pretty impressed with how I kept a positive attitude during the run, and was happy just to be outdoors and feeling semi normal again. It was a weird spot emotionally-- to be proud of how I was taking care of my body, but also frustrated that I wasn't 100% well yet.
Greg and I are registered for a 5K tomorrow and I know I'm not ready to handle speedwork, let alone a race in the heat. I will be at the back of the pack keeping my heart rate in the easy zone while Greg kills it at the front of the pack. I hope to get some miles in before and after and start working on getting my mileage back up there. I would love to be able to do the tempo intervals (or just one set) with my team on Friday, so that's the tentative plan, depending on how I feel.
It was not easy being sick for so long-- but hopefully I can use it as a learning experience.