Tuesday, December 29, 2009

It begins...

When I initially started this blog, one of the main focus points was to be my running, but since my injury there really hasn't  been much to report. Now that I have the OK from my orthopedist to start running again, its going to be a long road to regain the fitness I lost, and shed the weight I gained.

A brief history of my past year in running:
Starting last winter, I had been training for two races: The Hartford Marathon, and Bimblers Bluff 50K. I've always felt drawn towards longer distance races, but had never raced anything over a 6K. I thought since both races were only two weeks apart, and a 50K is only 5ish miles longer than a marathon (26.2) I could easily train for them at the same time. The marathon was actually scheduled to be on the day of one of my long runs anyway. Now, when I get into training, I REALLY get into training. It's the obsessive/compulsive side of me I suppose. I would religiously track every single yard I ran in my log and pore over the numbers, trying to see how hard I could push myself without getting hurt. I bought a Garmin 405 Forerunner from REI, which was the best purchase I made all year, without a doubt.  After that, I had every ounce of data I could have wanted right there on my wrist. Speed, mileage, heart rate...even a virtual training partner to race. I never missed a single run, which of course I had planned out months in advance and planned my life around them. Everything was going extremely well, and there was no doubt in my mind that if race day went as well as my training was going that I could easily slay a sub-3:20:00 marathon. My weekly long runs had gotten up to 18 miles, and I was recovering from them without a hitch. I learned so much training for those races...like that I get bad cramps if my sodium levels are low, I don't really need to eat a ton out on long runs to keep my energy up, and a PB&J was as good as a power bar for me. Also to hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! I now have a small collection of hydration-compatible backpacks and waist packs that all serve a different purpose, depending on what sort of run I expect to be doing.
Then WHAM, seemingly out of nowhere, I started experiencing a sharp pain in my left knee while on vacation in the White Mountains with my family last July. What was so odd about it was that I had decided to take the week off from running to recover and spend the entire trip with my kids, and it happened at the end of said week so I'm pretty sure it wasn't running related. Bummer. Big time. I got over that, still managing to run as much as possible with my knee wrapped, then iced afterward. I also learned what a helpful tool drug Aleve can be.
Then in September, I had my epic fall caused by a foot-eating baby gate, breaking a small (but not insignificant, oh no!) bone in my left foot. And that was that. Training over, no races were going to be ran in any foreseeable future. Depressed and unable to even walk without pain, my house fell into a state of terrible clutter, I could feel myself getting weaker, and I put on about 10lbs. I bought a treadmill, but even an easy walk was unbearable. I decided to stay off it completely until I could see an orthopedist.
Finally, after an agonizing two months (!!!) of no running, my ortho said it was OK to start training lightly, as long as my pain level was tolerable. I even got a prescription for this nifty patch of something called lidoderm, and it has been helping a great deal with the soreness. The pain is nothing serious like it was a few months ago...now it is something more like a bruise that only hurts if pressed or bumped on something.
SO. I've begun preliminary training for the Ragnar Relay that takes place in May 2010. We almost have the whole team of twelve on board, needing only more more confirmed runner to round it out. Some of the best parts are that I don't have to concentrate on any crazy distances, just running more than once a day to get my muscles used to running while fatigued, which makes training though a recovering injury a lot easier. Also, Nancy has recently taken up running and wants to run in the race. I can't even imagine how much easier it is going to be getting myself out the door to run if she's prodding me, or even (gasp!) joining me.
For now, the hardest part is trying not to jump right back into crazy OCD running man mode, but to rather ease my way back into it. For the first couple weeks I didn't even track my runs, I just ran when I felt up to it, if I didn't...so be it. For now, I'm just concentrating on length of time spent running, not mileage. I feel it is far more important to train my mind and muscles for the task ahead (a full and healthy recovery) and not race a clock when there is no tape at the end of the road. I'm up to an hour a day, covering about 5.5 miles. Nothing like the mileage I was ticking off 6 months ago, but after being layed up for so long, even a very slow jog is better than riding the couch.

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