My apologies for the rather generic, un-creative blog title. However, my previous "running after mono" blog brought a mono-inflicted runner here, and I made a new friend! She just started blogging and has had the misfortune of getting mono. When I was Googling "running with mono" all I found were horror stories. I figured I would post some encouraging stuff for people searching for the same answers I was. Of course everyone is different and the illness affects people in different ways. But here's a snippet from me.
It's been two weeks since my last update and three weeks since I took my first "jog". September 1 marked my official return to running. It did not go well, but things have improved since. One thing to keep in mind when returning to running post-mono is that it's not as if you simply took a break from running. The immune system is compromised, fatigue lingers, the entire body has been beat up and there is always the worry of getting Chronic Fatigue Syndrome or never being quite the same. These last two are the horror stories I've read when searching Google for post-mono running. You have to be extremely careful, taking it day by day and seeing what you can handle. The tough part is, even if you are responding well to increased physical activity, the illness can suddenly rear its ugly head without warning.
My approach here has been to rely heavily on my heart rate to indicate whether I am pushing too much. Based on my recent VO2 max test, I know where my heart rate should be for the run to be "easy". 150-162 beats per minute. I've been extremely disciplined in this area, even though it feels like I am barely getting a workout. However, if I were to just run by feel I know my legs would take me faster than I should be going, and I would risk tiring too early and bonking at the end. Zone 2 training is also the best for building endurance, and that's where marathon training starts anyway. I don't plan to add any speed until early October and even then, it will be "lite" speedwork-- short tempo runs based on keeping my heart rate in zone 4.
September has been all about regaining my health so that I can return to proper training. I don't consider the running I am doing now to be actual training like it was before. Rather, this is what I need to do in order to recover properly, so that I will ultimately be able to train at full capacity sooner rather than later. My sports psychologist reminded me that I should be making comparisons only to my recent past, and not to my pre-mono self. Otherwise, every run would feel like a failure.
When I first started running again, I used the jog-walk approach. I found that I wasn't able to keep my heart rate in zone 2 for more than two miles, so I needed to take periodic breaks. Now, I am still jog-walking, but the jog portions are longer. I think I could keep my heart rate in zone 2 without the breaks now, but it's nice to let it come down a little every so often, so I'm not constantly having to back off the pace to maintain the desired heart rate. My paces have been gradually getting faster, but the lack of speed work means that I probably won't be anywhere close to my prior pace for a long time, and I am okay with that.
Here is a recap of my week. I'm including the paces so that I'll be able to come back a month from now and see some progress. A month ago, I was struggling just to walk at a normal pace, so I've made outstanding progress in the past month.
Monday: Rest. I had planned on running, but I decided not to because I expended a fair amount of energy cheering for Greg and my teammates at the Philly half marathon the day before.
Tuesday: 5.1 miles on the treadmill due to stormy weather. 10 minutes jogging, 2 minutes walking. Treadmill was set to 5.7 (10:30 pace)
Thursday: 6 miles. 10 minute jog, 1 minute walk. Jogging portions averaged a pace of 10:30.
Friday: 5.9 miles. 12 minute jog, 1 minute walk. Jogging portions averaged a pace of 10:43.
Sunday: 7 miles. 12 minute jog, 1 minute walk. Jogging portions averaged a pace of 10:11.
Today's run showed some nice progress because the average pace of the full 7 miles was 10:30, and that includes the walking! Also, it was a post-mono distance PR.
4 days of running, 24 miles covered (includes the walking).
In addition to this, I've been consistently doing strength training. I'm heavily focused on my hips and glutes because I know that's an area of weakness for me. But I'm also doing squats, lunges, planks, various forms of crunches, push-ups, and light weight lifting for the arms and shoulders.
I hope that I continue to feel good during my runs and throughout the day. My greatest fear is a relapse or setback. I think I'm being really cautious here, but it's hard to tell for sure. My body is responding well, so I take that as a positive sign. I'm also very focused on eating healthy, getting plenty of sleep and loading up on vitamins. Health, you will be mine!