I went running this past Friday. It was my first run in 24 days. 3 weeks. It was the longest I'd gone without running since I started near the end of September. Prior to my ankle getting nearly destroyed by a pothole, I had been running 3-4 times a week in addition to doing cardio workouts at the Y. The first two weeks kicked my ass. I loved being outside and hitting the trail, but dreaded the pain and "OMG MY LUNGS ARE BURNING I'M GOING TO DIE I CAN'T TAKE ANOTHER STEP!" that I had to endure. The next 3 were easier. I could run a half mile without stopping, then a mile, then a mile and a half. My 1 mile run times started getting faster and I started running farther. 2 miles led to 2.5, then a 5k and before I knew it I was running 4 miles and starting to experience that "runner's high" avid runners like Bertski talk about. I felt stronger, my lungs no longer felt like giving out, and mentally my desire to quit was swallowed up by my zeal to keep going and just run. No thinking...just my feet hitting the ground, my body finding a comfortable rhythm, and music drowning out my chaotic and noisy thoughts. Running had suddenly became a sanctuary where I found relief & rejuvenation.
Then I had a fight with a pothole and lost. The damage? Torn ligament and hairline fracture. As painful as it was and as much as it drove my OCD crazy because I couldn't do anything but lay in the bed or on the couch, it killed me that I couldn't run. I worried a lot about losing all the ground I had gained and wondered if I'd have to start from square one again. I also worried I'd hurt my ankle even more once I started back up.
I woke up Friday morning with one thought demanding my full attention: RUN! I could actually feel my body craving it, I don't really know how to articulate it at this moment, other than to say everything in my body was consumed with one desire: RUN!!!!!!!!!!! It was so strong I spent the morning with the boys feeling restless and antsy, itching to get them settled so I could go out.
I told Bertski I was going for a test run. He gave me some advice. I threw on my heavy-duty ankle brace, laced up my sneaks, grabbed my headphones, and briskly walked to the track at the middle school down the street. The weather was perfect. A cool breeze and warm sun greeted me cheerfully, which only fueled the excitement bubbling up up from my stomach, through my finger tips and down to my toes wriggling in my sneakers.
I stepped on the track and took a deep breath. Nervousness clenched my heart as I began to worry about how my body and ankle would hold up. Feeling uncertain, I quieted my thoughts and determined to just take it slow and steady. No expectations. No stress. Just focus on moving around the track at whatever speed felt natural.
Much to my surprise I didn't feel "rusty" or out of shape at all. Thanks to shedding 15lbs I felt lighter as my feet hit the track's smooth surface and discovered my stride becoming longer. I picked up my pace and found the muscles built up in the weeks prior to my injury to be just as strong as they were 3 weeks ago. It was like I had never stopped. I could hear my heartbeat picking up speed, my lungs breathing in deep, refreshing breaths of air, and my body settling into what had become a familiar rhythm.
"Maybe I'll just run a mile and see how I feel," I told myself. 1 mile came and my body urged me on, keeping a comfortable but quick pace. At 1.3 miles I slowed down a little but refused to stop. Mile 2 came, and I found myself catching a second wind, flying around the track until I hit 2.5 miles.
2.5 miles in 26:25, averaging a pace of 10'32 a mile. Also scored my fastest mile time at 9:53. I felt like I could just keeping going till I hit the 5k mark, but common sense overrode my high and I walked back home feeling proud and happy.
It's going to be another 4-5 weeks before my ankle can take the roughness of a trail run, but I'll definitely be making good use of the track's smooth and even surface.
Life lesson's learned from that run?
- Don't underestimate yourself.
- You're stronger than you think, even if you've had a setback or had to stop for a little while.
- It's okay to push without straining yourself and it's okay to quit while you're ahead.
- Don't let fear stop you.
- Push past the uneasiness and anxiety.
- Sometimes you have to stop thinking about the details and just do.
The Nike + running app I use allows you select power songs throughout your playlist to motivate you when you want to quit. Mine for that run were
- "Till I Collapse"/Eminem,
- "Show Me What You Got," /Jay Z
- "All I Really Want"/Alanis Morissette
- "I Need a Doctor"/Dr. Dre, Eminem, Skylar Grey
- "Dog Days are Over"/Florence and the Machine
- "Tamacun"/Rodrigo and Gabriela
I'm back on track and it feels pretty damn good. So good in fact I signed up for a 5k in December and a 10k in April. Looks like I have some training to do. Yep. I'm addicted. :)