Because I've dealt with similar illnesses in the past, lasting up to three months, I knew that running too soon would cause regression and delay full recovery. So for the first three weeks, I was averaging only 500-1000 steps a day. After three weeks, my doctor advised that I begin to take 15-30 minute walks, and I've now been doing that successfully for six days. I now feel about 90% "normal" and so I plan to return to work full time next week (provided I don't regress). I don't have a specific return-to-running date in mind, but I think I should be able to resume easy running by mid July.
Going back to my original question, and the topic of this post, there is a spectrum of mindsets that runners have when it comes to planning during forced time off. I'm at one end of the spectrum and my husband Greg is at the other! I actually think that both of our mindsets are healthy; they are just different and highlight different personality types.
Mindset 1: Plan as much as possible; it gives you something to look forward to.
Mindset 2: Don't plan anything until you are healthy and able to to train.
You can probably guess that I fall into mindset 1. I already have the next 12 months of races figured out. I definitely need races and vacations on my schedule to give me something to look forward to. Even though I am not guaranteed to resume running by mid-July, I think it's highly likely, and I had already registered for 2 major fall races before getting sick. I'm keeping those races on the schedule, but I also wanted to plan even further ahead to a time when I am much more confident I will be able to race at full effort.
Another reason why I planned out the next 12 months is because I need a long-term solution to not getting these summer viruses. I think the only solution is to not train hard or even race in the summer. That will be tough for me, but I think that going forward I will only run 1 race each summer, and that will be a 5K and by no means a "goal" race or PR attempt. Just something to keep me in the practice of racing and avoiding going stale.
I had actually planned to avoid summer training this year by registering for a December marathon,
but I need to also stop training for 5Ks in the summer. I'll talk more about my solution after addressing the second mindset.
Greg has mindset #2 and doesn't like to think about future races when he is injured. He's been dealing with pain between his achilles tendon and his ankle. As a result, he's only been able to run a few miles here and there for the past month. He's been focused on trying to address his foot issue and is not thinking about when his next marathon will be. He's registered for Wineglass at the end of September but that's starting to look less and less realistic.
|Greg and me at the start of a race|
I've learned that it's always best to take one day at a time and enjoy the process. So from that perspective, it seems like Greg's mindset would lead to more peace and happiness. However, my mindset and planning is working for me because it reminds me of past comebacks that I've made and keeps me positive. I'm not really enjoying this whole sick thing, so I need things that will help my positivity. "This too shall pass" is the mantra I am using, and for it to work, I need to envision my future healthy self.
It's also interesting to note that Greg and I run for different reasons. He runs as a way to stay active and healthy, while not having to worry about how much he eats. He enjoys races and is happy to get PRs, but those are secondary to simply reaping the physical benefits. On the other hand, I run because I enjoy the act of running. Unless it's horrible weather, I always look forward to my runs in the morning. Equally as important, I like to challenge myself and see how fast I can be.
What did I decide on? Here's my plan and the rationale.
Sept. 23rd: 5K
As much as I would love to run a race sooner, I'm not going to race in the heat and risk getting sick again. It could be warm for this 5K, but chances are that it will be less humid with temperatures in the low 60's. I'm not going to train specifically for this race, but I should be in decent shape because training for my full and half marathons will have already started-- provided I can start running again by mid-July!
Oct. 7th: Army Ten Miler
This race was already on the schedule before I got sick. I'll have to see where my fitness is when I race this, but I think that sub-1:10 is very doable, and possibly sub-1:09. I'll be celebrating the fact that I am healthy enough to run it, whereas in 2016 I couldn't run it since my mono lasted so long.
|Richmond Half Marathon 2015|
My last race before I enter the Master's division. I turn 40 the next day. This was always part of the plan, but I didn't pull the trigger on registration until two weeks ago when I needed a pick-me-up.
Nov. 22nd: Turkey Trot 5K
I have a feeling this is the sub-20!!! My first race as a Masters runner!
Dec. 8th: Rehoboth Beach Marathon
I chose this one because it's almost guaranteed to not be hot. It could be windy and/or rainy, but I'll take that over heat. Also, I wanted to make sure that the hardest training runs 2-8 weeks out had cool weather. My leading theory on why I crashed so hard in Indianapolis is that I did all my training in abnormally humid/warm weather and it had a cumulative effect of wearing me down. I didn't feel energized at all on race day. I think I am capable of running a 3:15 marathon or faster, and I will use this race to find out if that's true!
March 2nd: Myrtle Beach Half Marathon
I'll probably run a 5K on New Year's eve to keep up tradition, and then Myrtle Beach will be my next big race. If all goes according to plan, I'll be shooting for a sub 1:30, which would be a huge milestone. I ran the full marathon here in 2017 and I liked it so much that I want to go back for the half.
April 7th: Cherry Blossom 10-Miler
This is my favorite 10-miler and it's part of the reason I'm not running Boston. I like the idea of doing Boston every two years so that I have the opportunity to experience other races.
At this point, I am thinking I will run a May marathon way up north (and DNS if it's above 65) and then be done with racing for the summer. I might not even train that hard for it but use it as a way to force myself into easy running for the two weeks afterward and lessen the desire to race in June. Because. . . I'm not racing in June! I'll take it easy the rest of the summer including a 12-day vacation in Europe. Hopefully, this will all keep me healthy and minimize hard running in the heat.
So, that's my schedule. I realize that there are many things that could happen to prevent me from running any or all of these races, but I'm choosing to stay positive. I'm raring to go!