This summer, my running goals were to return to running consistently and to build mileage while paying attention to my running “pre-hab” & rehab exercises. As it turns out, plans shift and I’m now wearing a [very fashionable] splint shoe on my left foot, and haven’t run a step in 10 days.
I have had a spring of aches and pains, most recently a spring filled with calf microtears. Recent running was plagued by flares of plantar fasciitis – nothing debilitating, but annoying. Last week, I spent two runs with increasing pain on the outer side of my foot. An x-ray revealed no major fracture (but this is not uncommon for traditional x-ray). The doctor cleared me of fracture but recommended 2 weeks of rest + splint and pointed me to a sports PT. My physical therapist did further examination, including evaluation using a tuning fork and suggested that while the result was negative for a fracture, there was still potential for a stress fracture, but more likely strain of the ligaments; she agreed: stop running for the moment.
So, running training has come to a pause once again (though “pre-hab” continues!). Instead, I have been biking quite a bit, generally with a bike trailer and one or two kids (+ gummy bears + water bottles). My elder daughter has become our family “prevent air pollution” advocate, encouraging us, “Not to dig up the oil and make “air solution” that makes us cough!” Luckily, much of our summer life is in biking distance, and while afternoon temperatures are activity-prohibitive (100+ degrees, blah), the mornings are great for family bike rides to day care and summer camp.
Philosophically, the seemingly endless cropping-up of injuries and niggles that I’ve experienced over the past year is exceedingly frustrating. However, one of the strategies I use when I get in a running funk is taking a look at my training logs. Compared to a year ago, I’m way ahead of where I was running-wise. I’m also a lot stronger thanks to consistent and focused strength work, and have had time to explore and understand my post-second-baby body and 2-kid, post-PhD lifestyle. I’m also really, really excited about racing goals for this winter and next spring. In the summer, all running seems sluggish, but I know that fall training is just around the corner – and I’ll be ready for it.
I find that the time away from running can be seen as a time of refreshment. The ability to sleep in late and to participate in alternative activities, and travel without missing key workouts is very mentally freeing. One special treat is interacting with athletes – on a bike or on a walk – I might not normally get to visit with during normal training time, as I’d be focused on my own workout. Just as nailing a hard workout or chalking in a solid week of training is energizing, interacting with the athletic communities I am part of are a constant source of excitement, energy, and motivation.
Here’s to another week of healing, refraining from running, and summer refreshment! Stay tuned for the momentous day when I return to running! Better yet, that first full month of training…and…that first ‘real’ race!
Good things lie ahead – once I’m healthy.