In running years, I’m young. I only started running in 2005, so that makes me 9. In those 9 years, though, I’ve experienced a lot of injuries. The list includes: plantar fasciitis, patellofemoral pain syndrome (aka, Runner’s Knee), achilles tendonitis, a hamstring strain, Morton’s neuroma, issues with my piriformis (this was the most painful of all of them – hands down), nasty issues with my IT band, a stress fracture in a metatarsal, a stress reaction in a metatarsal, a super-duper inflamed teeny-tiny little adductor, and, most recently, chondromalacia patella. Whew. Basically, you name it, I’ve injured it. Oh – and I have a minor spinal defect that rarely causes me issues, but when it does, I’m pretty much not moving.
Logic would tell a person that if she experiences this many injuries, she should quit doing whatever it is that’s causing it. Logic is so . . . logical. But the thing about logic is that it doesn’t take anything else into consideration. Logic doesn’t care about the enjoyment you get out of doing something. It doesn’t care that you actually aren’t half bad at what you’re doing. And it certainly doesn’t care that what you’re doing is just plain addictive. Logic just says quit.
Screw you, logic.
Some of those injuries actually were not running related, but I had to include them because I can’t say that running didn’t contribute to them in some way or another. And some of those injuries wouldn’t have been so bad if I hadn’t had a desk job. Sitting for 8-10 hours per day is the worst. It’s the absolute worst. Several of those injuries would have healed faster if I hadn’t been sitting so darned much.
Bouncing back after an injury can be tough. You don’t want to screw up and end back up on the couch. You don’t want to baby whatever it is that’s bothering you and end up hurting something else. You don’t want to overthink it and do something dumb. Sometimes that bounce-back can be slow, and you might be slower or have less endurance than you previously did. And sometimes it’s the opposite.
I’ve hardly been running since early August. I would rest for a string of days and then try a 3 or 5 mile run to see how things went. I’d realize I still needed more recovery. This continued until the first week of October. I had a good weekend of a 7 mile run and a 9 mile one and was feeling good. Then something snapped in my knee at the gym. I was worried it was my meniscus. While I paced Anne at Oil Creek, we really didn’t run. We walked and hike more than 95% of the 31 miles, so I was fine.
Last Friday I saw an orthopaedist who confirmed that I have chondromalacia patella. He told me what to do (some strengthening exercises) what not to do (squats, lunges and hills – all my favorites) and sent me on my way to get back to running. I tested things out with a pair of runs last weekend and they went well. I felt great afterwards too, so I decided to try some runs during the week. Due to our schedule, my only options during the week are road runs before my husband leaves for work on Monday and Wednesday, treadmill stuff, or pushing my son in his stroller if the weather is nice.
I hit the dreadmill on Monday night at the gym. I said I would go easy. I meant it. And I swear I did so. But “easy” meant something new. “Easy” was not 6.5 mph. It was not 7mph. WTH? I increased my speed with each mile very conservatively, but still ended up with a quick run – quick for me. It was only 70 seconds off my 5K PR. (I’m someone who actually runs faster on the road than the treadmill, so maybe it would have been even a few seconds faster outside.) I was astonished when I finished and looked at my average time. This former 9:30/mile girl was an 8:20/mile girl.
I assumed that was an anomoly. I ran 5K outside with my son in the stroller on Tuesday night. We ran to the grocery store and back, so I know it wasn’t fast. BUT I was pushing somewhere in the ballpark of 65-70 lbs, so it was a workout. Then, just 12 hours later, I ran another 5K before my husband left for work. My watch died during the run (charge it after every run, you dummy), but the time on the oven clock wasn’t anywhere near where I thought it should be.
THEN Anne and I went out for a trail run this morning. We’ve decided that Saturday mornings will be days we focus on trail speed. We have a relatively flat, smooth section of the AT near us that is perfect for that. Last week we did 8 miles at 10:49/mile. We cross several roads on this route and had to wait for traffic at most of them, AND there was about 1/2 mile of road involved. I knew we could do better. Today we went out for 11 miles. I did NOT count the road section this time, which would make our time slower, and I was shocked again. We dropped 42 seconds per mile off even though we added 3 miles.
It seems that I’ve acquired some speed somewhere. I certainly haven’t been doing any speed training. I have barely been running. I’ve been doing yoga and lifting, but I’ve barely been doing any stuff for my legs because of the injuries. I haven’t lost any of the weight I’ve gained in the last year. I haven’t changed my diet and am not getting better quality of sleep. Yet, today I felt light on my feet and strong as ox.
The only explanation is aliens. I’m heading out to look for crop circles now. Get your tinfoil hats on, everybody!
Oh – as an aside . . . we encountered a baby opossum on our run today. He was sitting on the side of the trail. He was cute, in an ugly sort of way. We stopped several feet short of him and eyed him up. I told him he shouldn’t be out and about right now. His response was a cross between a hiss and a pant. We got off the trail for a few feet to give him lots of space in case he was rabid. He was probably just scared, but we couldn’t be too careful. It was quite odd.