Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The (return to) Running Chronicles, May 2012

O running gear, how I've missed you so...
2012 has been a tough year for me as a runner.  I was really in the groove, looking forward to ramping up my mileage, getting faster with each run, and then BAM!  I got hurt.  I came to a screeching halt and was sidelined for months.  I went through the stages of grief as I mourned the loss of my running.  I missed my friend with whom I was starting to really click, and could only look at the shoes I'd bought just a week before I got hurt.  I packed my running things away and tried not to get overly sad about our separation.

Through about 11 weeks of physical therapy, a correct diagnosis, lots of stretching, manipulating (keep it clean!), and strengthening (hello, core, I'm glad I found you), I gradually got back on my feet both physically and mentally.  The hardest part was keeping my head in the game and focused on getting back to running.  Rather than wallow in self-pity, I had to remember that my hard work would pay off once I was able to lace up my shoes and return to the road.  This was easier said than done.  I stayed away from reading blogs or Facebook pages about running, and sort of detached myself from the thought of lacing up my shoes and getting back out.  The temptation was too great, and the disappointment of the reality that running wasn't in the cards was a bit much for my fragile mind.

I'm not the first person to get hurt.  Heck, I've hurt myself plenty of times before.  The one and only time I ever broke a bone was in high school when I busted my pinky finger (pretty good, too) the night before second semester finals.  Funny thing, I was leaving church when it happened.  Make that a lesson to you all, don't try to hurry out of church, you can break a finger when you trip on the rug in the doorway. Next lesson - it won't get you out of finals.  You'll get all Scantron tests (did that just date me, terribly?).

Anyway, I'm trying to say that I don't think this is some life lesson that was handed to me so I could pass on the gospel of The Injured Runner.  No, but this is my blog, and it is my hip that hurt like hell, and I can write about it if I want to.

After three unsuccessful weeks at a PT with the wrong diagnosis, I got a second opinion and correct diagnosis, and at my third visit, they had me on the Alter G (we're on a first name basis, I refer to it as 'the G').  I did four solid weeks with this PT, increasing my stretching and strength training and my workouts on the G.  From there, I did an additional three and a half weeks at once a week, while trying to get out and do some running on my own.  This was easier said than done, but, I got it done.  In the meantime, a wicked virus hit all four of us in the house, Hot Dad and I each had a long weekend with friends, I had to travel for work, and anyway, life just kind of happened.

Still, I did some running, kept up with my stretching and strengthening, and got back into the swing of things.  I was officially discharged from PT on the 8th of May, with a handy booklet of exercises to keep up with at home.  Now my biggest challenge is making the time (and floor space) to do these every day.  I am still taking the core class that I started in February.  I can feel the difference each week, and I believe that it has helped me with my recovery.

I haven't run a ton, but, have gotten myself out there a few times, and to date I've done four races.  So far:

Shamrock Shuffle 8K - March 25 - I did two miles, cut over to the 4th mile marker, and ran in with a friend
Egg Shell Shuffle 5K - April 7 - Did the full 5K, frustrated with endurance
Got2Run 8K - May 19 - Ran all the way 'til mile 4.6-ish so I could change the song on my iPod and finish to a strong beat
Soldier Field 10 Mile - May 26 - AWESOME!  Ran with a running buddy, which is what kept me at a steady pace the entire race.  Will have to blog about this one, it was a great time

So, I have more racing to do, and more miles to get under my feet.  I am really sore today (the hip is screaming), but I know that will get better.  What stinks is trying to tell myself that the pain is temporary and that I haven't mortally injured myself.  When something doesn't feel right, it's so easy to over think things and before you know it you're having a hip replacement, bionic knee installed, or brain tumor removed, when it was probably just gas in the first place. 

Being as sore as I am in the hip today, I am doing my best not to be down on myself.  I believe that I pushed myself a bit by going 10 miles in one shot, and doing so in a race.  I've done a few runs of about 5 miles, and in PT was doing 4 miles on the G, but to do 10 miles in one shot is a lot when you're coming off an injury.  I don't believe I've reinjured myself, and can't afford to have, so I'm trying to take it easy and make time (and floor space) for my exercises.

It is a great feeling to reunite with my shoes, my Garmin, my running friends, and the road.  I can already feel the difference in my endurance, my waistline (I think that one's all in my head, but I'm OK with that), and in my overall attitude about things.  I am back to obsessing over times, shoes, new gear, and my Garmin.  I'm excited about doing track workouts.  I'm excited to get my gut kicked at core class.  And I feel like I have more balance in my life, in general. 

Funny how getting back to running has settled so many things.

I'll add snippets about my injury, therapy, and recovery as I document my progress from this point forward.  Marathon training starts in the next week or two.  Road to Chicago 2012, here I come!