Friday, November 25, 2011

Recovery can be fun too

It’s been almost two weeks since the Chilly Half and exactly that long since I last ran.  And I feel ok, both physically and mentally.  Yesterday, I missed my first race due to this shin splint, and I didn’t have that nagging feeling of missing out.

As I trained for the half and the pain in my shin waxed and waned, I went through periods of despair that this injury would end my bid to run my best half marathon ever.  The morning of the Somerville Homeless Coalition 5K, I made peace with the thought that I was going to need to take some time off from running and forego the Chilly Half to allow my shin to heal.  But, then the week after the 5K my shin improved.  It was still not pain-free, but I could run on it without it impacting my stride.

I picked up my t-shirt and bib for the Gobble, Gobble,Gobble 4 miler last weekend, knowing full well that only half of those items would get any use.  Yesterday morning, I went out to the race course to support my friend A as she continues to make fantastic strides in her running (serious negative split and beat her goal!), and to cheer on both BPC and BTT athletes.  As I stood at the finish line, a man next to me asked why I wasn’t running, and I replied that I was signed up but had a bum leg.  It was as if fate had sent him to tell me, “See you’re not disappointed.  Taking care of your body and not running is ok, too.”

Of course, I miss running.  Maybe it’s that setting a PR at the Chilly Half has instilled a new confidence and calm within me.  I feel a bit like a kid in a candy store:  which PR do I want to tackle next, all of them are within reach.  I’m very tempted to return to the half marathon distance again this season with an “adequate endurance base.”  

You see the week before the Chilly, my coach told me that although I would likely set a PR at the race, I did not have an “adequate endurance base for a quality half.”  Can you hear the sound of tires screeching to a halt in my brain?  WHAT? I’d been training for 9 weeks for this race, and it’s not like I was starting from a couch potato fitness level.  What Alan meant was, there’s a difference between having the fitness to go out and run a half (maybe even your best half to date) and having the fitness to run the best half your body is capable of running.  Despite the long miles I had run in preparation, I hadn’t even come close to running the 20 mile long runs for 8-12 weeks that is necessary to prepare for that best half ever time.  

Since I’ve stopped running, I’ve been swimming and biking more, and I’ve added some legitimate weight training.  For the last several months, my strength training has been limited to body-weight core exercises (think planks and bridges).  Though I enjoy these, it doesn’t compare to the pleasure of hitting the gym for bench presses and lunges.  The weight room at one time was a place that raised my heart rate just by going in.  After training with Paul two years ago, it’s no longer daunting.  I know what I’m doing, and I emerge feeling stronger for it.

My shin is improving, too.  I can run my finger over the spot that once was too sensitive to the touch and have no pain.  I’m still on NSAIDs, so I’m not quite ready to declare victory just yet, but I’m encouraged. They say that triathletes are either injured or racing or both.  My goal for right now is to be neither, so that come August I can be firmly in the racing camp.  Of course, a lot can happen between now and then:  there are no guarantees.  All I can do is put my faith in the process and enjoy the (bike) ride.


Shannon December 2, 2011 at 7:54 AM  

Yeah, that totally made me stop and think (the part about the best half your body can run). But true, I guess :) I've been lifting a bunch and getting back in to yoga, but i still feel like a little bit of a slacker as those other three sports have taken a hiatus for a bit. I'm anxious to get back in the pool though, so I think it's the break I needed!

Glad things are feeling better with your shin, looking forward to cheering on as you kick @ss and take names next season :)

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