I went to the gym Sunday for the first run of my half marathon training. My goal was 4 miles but planned to stop if I felt pain in the area of my stress fracture after warming up. Well, five minutes of slow jogging came and went and I still felt pain, so I stopped.
I walked for about 20 minutes with no pain and considered my options. I could walk my half marathon training plan, since walking isn’t posing a problem for me. But then I considered how much time it would take to walk 10+ miles multiple times and knew that was out. The extra time on my feet might be even worse for me than running, and honestly, I get bored with the same activity if I do it too long. The other option was to keep trying to run and stop whenever it hurt. That didn’t sound appealing since it would mean every run would be an anxiety inducing guessing game, which is what I’ve been dealing with and do not like.
Then I had a moment of clarity. Running simply isn’t fun for me right now. I love running because of how strong I feel when I’m pushing myself to go faster than I’ve gone before. I love the feeling of my arms and legs working in harmony to propel me forward. I love how I can focus on where I want to go and use my body to get me there. But for all those things to be possible, I need to know my body is ready for whatever I want to give it. I don’t want to have to hold back, knowing even though my breathing is great, my leg can’t handle it. I don’t want to have to think about my leg at all, I just want the freedom of movement.
So I decided to email the Go! Half Marathon people to see if a refund or deferment was possible. Their website said no refunds, so I was elated to get this response:
I immediately wrote back and said yes and felt a giant sense of relief. Now I have nothing on the racing schedule for 2014 (the season pass is two halfs and a 5k, spread out over the year). I can run when I want to, when I know I’m fully healed, when I know running will be fun again. And I’m not setting any type of timetable for that to happen.
Instead, I’m focusing on activities that are fun for me right now.
After my failed run on Sunday, I decided to get in the pool. I’d made an impulse purchase at Costco on Saturday, a three pack of swimming goggles (because I have three heads).
Anyway, I was excited to put the goggles to use. I got in the hot tub first and scoped out the set up.
On Sunday they had three lanes open and it wasn’t crowded but still, I was intimidated. While I’m great at keeping afloat and getting from point A to point B, I know no official swimming moves and I was afraid of the lifeguard judging me. I realize it’s likely her only concern is making sure I don’t drown, but I’m not great at doing things I’m not great at in front of people. So I eased into the situation by going to the main pool area and floating around. It’s only about 3 feet deep and I’m 5’11 so there’s only so much fun you can have with that. I ended up swimming underwater, with my goggles (which are awesome), from one end of the pool to the other. I felt like a kid again, not doing anything structured, just doing what I wanted. Plus, there’s a lazy river and a vortex (circle that water spins around in) and those are fun too. After about half an hour I got up my nerve and got into a swim lane. I kept telling myself no one was paying attention to me and even if they were, why does it even matter? This isn’t a swimming competition, this is the YMCA. So I swam, somewhat randomly, in my lane for about 15 minutes. The best part was I got the sensation of moving strongly from one spot to another and nothing on my body hurt to do it.
I went to PiYo (Pilates + Yoga) some during my last half marathon training but stopped once I was diagnosed with the stress fracture, knowing a lot of the moves isolate legs and not wanting to put too much pressure on my right leg. Now that it’s been a couple months, I was ready to test it out, and I went last night. I was so happy to find 99% of the class (stress fracture) pain free. I only felt my leg pain at one point, a lunge on my right leg. The rest of the time, even a plank/burpee type maneuver (that requires jumping), no pain. And what a workout! I was so sweaty and today I’m really sore in my lower back, butt, and abs. I was thrilled to discover I didn’t have to half ass the push ups during the movements like I did a few months ago. Back then I’d do some with my legs up but did most with my knees touching the ground. Last night I did all with my legs up and felt really strong and controlled while doing them. That’s a credit to all the push ups I’ve been doing while injured–20 per day for the last few weeks. I’m so happy to see that type of measurable improvement from a source of exercise other than running.
I wouldn’t call this “fun” by itself, but it is fun when I bring reading material. I have a problem where reading often literally puts me to sleep, no matter how much I want to read. This couch I nearly impulse bought at Costco sums me up.
I suppose I do like the smoothness of biking, and how I become sweaty in a sneaky way, without being out of breath. And it’s nice to mix things up and do something different. But honestly, the stationary bike’s most fun quality is that it will help me get through my backlog of books. 🙂
There’s a small piece of me that’s sad about what I’m missing out on. There were around 500 people at my training team’s long run on Sunday. I saw a picture of it on Facebook.
While running with a big group is fun I will say I’m not going to miss getting up at 5:30-6am on Sundays for those 7am long runs. Right now they’re very cold. I’m going to savor the break and look forward to the time when my body is ready to enjoy running again. In the meantime I’m going to enjoy any activity that is fun for me, especially sleeping in on Sundays.