Hey all. It’s been a hell of a week. School, life, an upcoming wedding and travels have made me a busy chicken running around with my head cut off, stopping only to run my little 4-6 mile easy runs and get in my rehab.
I wanted to provide an update on my come back to running, because I know there are many people out there slogging along at grandma pace with a heart-rate over 200 bpm (exaggerated but only slightly), and re-wearing that one pair of running shorts that currently fits. Oh and nursing some injuries we haven’t had since middle school and/or extreme chaffing. THOSE ARE THE SEEMINGLY NEGATIVE THINGS LET ME TELL YOU ABOUT ALL THE AWESOME THINGS.
I’m currently up to running 4-5x per week, doing anywhere from 30-50 minutes and running about 8-8:30 pace. Everyday is challenging and it feels like I’ve never run before. But everyday I feel slightly better than the last. And slowly, my joints are feeling more supple and less like a creaky old tin woman. My calves are getting used to the idea of not harboring rocks/knots in them at all times. And my digestion during runs is improving- I only had to stop ONCE today to go in the bushes.
The come-back is different in many ways than other times I’ve come back from injury or a break. I’ll tell you why, and simultaneously tell you how to stay sane while getting back into shape after an injury or break.
This is the first time that I’ve ever completely avoided looking at my pace during a run. I only look at my watch to see when to turn around, and I just run what pace I feel like I can sustain for 30 minutes without totally dying or stressing my body too much.
My suggestion to you is to go by feel and to not put pressure on yourself to run a certain pace. In college, it was engrained in my mind that I had to be running a certain pace on easy days, or it was a complete waste of a day. I don’t feel that way now. This isn’t the time to care about pace or mileage. This is the time to just be grateful you’re running and take everyday for what it is. 4 miles at 8:30? Cool, I’ll take it. Better than 0 miles at 0 pace.
I’ve never been so adamant about ACTUALLY consistently doing hip strength, self massage, active release on the damn lacrosse ball, and not sitting in positions for long periods of time that put stress on my creaky old hips. And I’m actually seeing consistent improvements in strength and mobility. Today my knee was tightening up while I was running. Instead of pushing through it for no reason, I stopped and stretch. And then it was gone! Like magic.
This is the time to treat rehab like it’s your job. Once you’ve identified your weaknesses, make it a daily priority to do what you can to improve. You cannot fix something in a day. Or a week. But you can put in consistent small efforts everyday to mobilize, strengthen, and stretch.
Here’s some advice from my amazing physical therapist about coming back from injury:
“With a return to any sport, it is essential to examine the nature and underlying causes of the injury you sustained. A thorough understanding of the injured tissue and its’ stage in the healing process will give you more confidence in designing a return to run program. Be patient with the process and allow the tissue to adapt and recover from each training session before making changes to your weekly running volume. In addition, strength training is one of the most effective methods of reducing injury risk and should be considered during this time to improve the capacity of the tissue to withstand the current and future training loads.” –Jeff Ryg, Mend Physical Therapy
It’s the most challenging thing to look back at what you used to do in running and see what you’re capable of now. I know, you used to run X miles at X pace and now you can do half that at a way slower pace. That’s the bad and good part about your body.
It adapts. After no running, you lose fitness. With more running, you gain fitness. Simple I know, but in practice it becomes hard to accept. You’re the same runner you were, but it will take time to get there again.
Take everyday for what it is. Be happy to check off another day and be a teeny tiny bit closer to your goal.
Find people that inspire you. Follow injury stories and come-backs and get motivated for the future.
Right now, I’m enjoying Nick Symmonds’ vlogging about his marathon training. It’s inspiring to follow his journey from running not very much and being somewhat out of shape (for him) to reaching a goal.
Mostly importantly, just try to enjoy each run. No matter how slow and short and ridiculously comical.