Yesterday I logged into my Garmin Connect account for the first time in months. I was poking around in my history trying to remember what I ran last year on Thanksgiving (of course I hadn't been keeping faithful to the blog at this point and if I had been, I would've been able to figure it out in a matter of seconds) and fell down a black hole of reliving past runs and races. Then I came across the PR section of my profile.
When I look at those numbers now, they feel like a lifetime ago - or that they must belong to a different person. On April 24 during the Carytown 10k, I ran my fastest 5k at 21:36, a pace of 6:57/mile.
Fast forward to this morning. I found myself solo at the track for another stimulating 30 minutes of run/walk intervals. My goal for these has nothing to do with pace or distance; the focus is to try to run as normally as possible without favoring or adjusting my gait to accommodate my foot*. To quote the great Han Solo, I just try to
I wear my Garmin during these workouts only to keep track of elapsed time and intervals. Today when the two mile indicator chirped, I looked down and realized that I had just hit the 20 minute mark. Thus far, I haven't been anywhere near that pace and decided that I would challenge myself to fit in another mile before my 30 minutes were up. Then, I did it.
Being extremely excited about breaking the 10 min/mile barrier is not something that I anticipated for myself. Six months ago, this would have represented a catastrophic run. But today it was a huge achievement.
This is one of the tiny positive things about side-lining injuries - when you finally get to come back, all of your goals must be recalibrated and things that once felt routine become accomplishments.
I used to joke that I wouldn't even get out of bed for less than 5 miles and that I wouldn't use the qualifier "long" on any run unless it was 17 miles or more. A seven mile tempo run was child's play and any pace over 8:30 may as well have been walking. A week logging less than 20 miles was a week wasted. Basically, I had to work really really hard to impress myself.
This isn't to say I'm belittling any of those things; it is simply a reflection of where I was as runner and what my personal standards were at the time that I consider my peak fitness to date.
Honestly, it's kind of nice to be thrilled by 3 miles of run/walking.
For those who've expressed concern or told me to be careful, I appreciate it. Let me reassure you that there are few people who are as cautious as I am when it comes to recovery. I have not gone through all of this just to turn around and ruin it all by being foolish at this point. There is far too much at stake.
Right now, I am five weeks post op and am well within the prescribed time frame for a return to normal activity (based on my specific procedure). I am not pain free but each time I run/walk, Gertrude hurts less both during and after. This is a good sign.
BFF Steve has told me that when I do my run intervals, I need to do what feels comfortable and that the biggest enemy/danger to recovery is not in my pace but the amount of time on my feet and total mileage. Ramping up mileage too fast is what most often causes relapse. During my 30 minute interludes, my run/walk ratio is increasing but I'm really not going much further than 2 miles of total running each session.
For me, being comfortable means running at my normal pace... my normal pace being something that starts with a 7:xx over short distances. Kit recently observed that I apparently have only have two speeds: fast and boot. He's pretty much right. If I try to adjust to run slower than what I am used to, I become hyper-aware of everything and think far too much. My gait suffers and I compensate; things become unnatural, awkward, and yes - painful. If I relax and let my legs do what they know how to, things are great.
I'm just going to keep doing that until they aren't.
*I'm so tired of writing "my foot" that I've decided to refer to it as Gertrude from here on out.
**I know half this entry is blue. I've tried to fix it but Blogger is being stubborn and I don't have the time or patience to figure it out.