I feel like a bit of a broken record lately. But I’m beginning to feel like I’m close to jumping off the hamster wheel & returning to my normal let-me-run-my-legs-off self again.
The farther away I get from my decision to not race this fall, the less I feel like myself. Like anyone else training for a marathon, I was putting a lot of energy into training and thinking about my goal for Grand Rapids. I’m no stranger to post-marathon blues and I felt like this was 5x worse because I didn’t even get to experience the elation of crossing the finish line. All the anticipation for nothing. And instead of dedicating time to workouts, my time was now filled with therapy. I’m not the type to just sit around and hope that I heal. I think my body normally does a really good job of recovering but for whatever reason it wasn’t happening. When I stop and think about the time and energy (and, especially, money) I dedicated to therapy in just a few short weeks, it seems slightly silly. I didn’t expect recovery to take this long. When I first went to the chiropractor and physical therapist, they both agreed that this was a “very minor injury” and there was zero doubt I’d race Grand Rapids. It seemed like things just locked up, I needed a short recovery period, and then I’d PR. Simple right? It would have been nice if it worked out that way. But through all of this therapy (chiro, PT, acupuncture, massage therapy- and now ART), I feel like now I have an idea of what will work for me in the future with the same or similar issues.
Running is gradually beginning to feel comfortable. Since the ‘breakdown’ began, my weekly mileage plummeted. This is what I’ve been up to:
Yeah, a bit sporadic don’t you think? Weeks 38-41 were the most frustrating. The decision to not race had to be made and I wanted to be my normal stubborn self and hold onto the sliver of hope that Grand Rapids would happen. A week off running was liberating once I made that decision. I turned into a bit of a gym rat. I went to some classes at the gym that always interested me but I never had time or energy for during a training cycle. And I felt comfortable knowing that I wasn’t on a timeline. Just being able to work out in other ways was refreshing in itself.
Weeks 42-44 were slightly better but still frustrating. I ran but the miles didn’t feel especially good and I realized how much I missed the runner’s high. Just kind of …hurumph. I continued to cross-train with plenty of spin, yoga, and strength classes at the gym. Hitting all the muscle groups. So if everything was going so well, why take a whole week off at Week 45? Because. (Yep, because.) I realized that if I was going to take any more time off this fall before base-building was to begin, I had to do it now. So I parked it. And filled my time with other kinds of exercise to keep my mind off of ‘not’ running. Mental jiu jitsu. Also, BEER.
I have a lot of reasons to feel grateful for others’ race experiences this fall. This is part of the reason why I’ve been able to stay sane & cheer on others.
Last week, Week 46, I decided to get back to it. 4 days of running along with one yoga class and one spinning session was enough to make me feel like I was training again. I want to make sure I’m not losing any fitness specific to running by continuing to sit on my butt. And gradually testing my hip and quad by running 4-5 easy easy easy runs a week is a good place to start. Gradually, I’m beginning to see the light at the end of the lonely, confusing dark tunnel of recovery. Runs are becoming more and more comfortable and my legs aren’t rejecting the run. They’re starting to accept it. It feels good to focus on 4-5 consistent runs a week for more than 1 week at a time. So far, so good.
Before I went for my first acupuncture appointment, I told myself, “ok, this is it. If this doesn’t work, then you’re out of luck and you’ve gotta just sit on your butt until your leg starts to love you again.”. Acupuncture was *awesome*. I went twice and it was a great experience. I’ll be going again in the future. But that wasn’t the last therapy I tried (surprise surprise).
I went to my first ART session today. And for the first time in awhile, I feel like I’ve finally found someone that can educate me on what the f*** my body is doing and help me gradually correct it. ART seems like a really good fit because I don’t need any more ‘gentle’ therapy or even PT at this point (especially because I can do the majority of that stuff on my own or at the gym). What I really need is somebody to really dig into my problem areas and help me release tension in soft tissues that I can’t release on my own. Trust me, no amount of foam rolling or Trigger Point Massage Ball or The Stick will release this kind of pain. The doctor was able to pinpoint super specific areas that are the root of my pain and gradually work through them. The pain actually seems to be coming from blocked nerves from stressed muscles. I walked out of that appointment feeling pretty peppy about the whole situation. My left leg felt noticeably different & I’m excited to run this weekend before seeing him again on Monday.
All of the reflective things on a super comfortable run in the neighborhood. Safety first!
So, basically. Yes, I’m still alive. Yes, I am running. And yes, I’ll be my chipper self again here in a few weeks, just in time for Boston training to begin.