COME BACK...OR SET BACK?
We have a whole lot of running to catch up on in this post. The good, the bad, and the incredibly painful.
First and foremost, I have to say that my thoughts and prayers (as well as that of the entire running community) are with the family of Mollie Tibbetts. While I did not personally know her, I live only a short drive from Brooklyn and am an alum from the University of Iowa. I am also a female runner, so I sort of feel like I can relate to her as a runner on some level. Her tragic death has made me realize just how dangerous running alone can be, even in small town Iowa. It has also made me appreciate the fact that I get to run 6 times a week, even if my runs aren't always perfect or pain free or a complete blast the entire time. Now, I not only run for myself and my health, but for Mollie. Because, no female or runner, should have to go through what she went through.
My first run following the discovery of Mollie's body was a really great 7.19 miler. On Wednesday morning, I ran my heart out. No regrets, no excuses. Just putting one foot in front of the other, and appreciating the fact that I am able to run such a distance. My splits didn't matter, although they were pretty decent. What really mattered to me, was running with a purpose. Not to nail the next PR or hit x number of miles, but for the sheer joy of running. To feel strong, confident, and proud of myself. So, naturally when I found out on Thursday about the new movement in the running community #MilesForMollie, I knew it was something I needed to be a part of.
I have no problem admitting that I have been extremely selfish when it comes to my running.
For me, running has always been my solo time. My therapy. My chance to really challenge myself while also losing myself in the miles. I've let bad runs, or not being able to run at all (due to injury, life, etc) effect my mood. I looked at treadmill running as a punishment, and loathed the idea of running indoors, even in the worst of weather conditions. So, the idea for running for any other purpose other than myself had never even crossed my mind. Sure, in the past I had used a mental strategy during 5-6 mile treadmill runs where I would dedicate each mile to someone important in my life just to ensure I would actually get the miles in. But, still, the overall reason I was on that treadmill in the first place was for me, my fitness, and my love of running.
Really, all it took for me to shift my mindset is imagining the thought of never being able to run again. Whether because of injury or some other unforeseen circumstances, that thought alone wasn't a pleasant one. While Mollie had definitely been on my find during both Wednesday's and Thursday's runs, it wasn't until I really took a minute to imagine my life without running that I realized I needed to run with a purpose that wasn't entirely selfish. That I needed to run for somebody else.
Of course, when I woke up Friday morning to thunder, rain, and lightening, I was not feeling all that selfless or all that much like running indoors.
Despite really wanting to just say screw the weather and safety risks, I ran on the treadmill. Now, I wasn't super excited about it or anything, but I also wasn't going to let it effect my run or the reason why I was running. I gently reminded myself of all the runners who are injured, sick, or who have sadly died and don't get to run anymore. Treadmill or Outdoors runner, if they are anywhere near as passionate as I am about running, they would give anything for one more run. No matter the distance or playlist or weather.
I made the most of that treadmill run. I knew this was the perfect opportunity for me to get in a shorter, speedier run. Especially since I have an incredibly difficult time getting myself to run any less than 5ish miles when I'm running outside. I fired up the speed to 6.3 and took off. At first, I wasn't sure I could make it a mile, let alone the 3-4 that I had planned. I found myself constantly staring at the treadmill screen, watching the miles slowly tick by. Yeah, I was running sort of fast with decent form. But, this was no outdoor fun run, that's for sure. Still, I pushed on, upping the speed to 6.4 at the 1 mile mark. The faster I ran, the more energized I felt. Even though I wasn't technically going anywhere, I felt like I had covered a lot of ground.
I ended up running 3 miles in 28 minutes and 11 seconds. While I have forced myself to let go of the importance of paces/splits over just running to run, I was still very happy/proud of myself for not allowing running on the treadmill to ruin my run. If anything, it enhanced my run and my confidence as a runner. I saw myself easily being able to hold paces that are supposed to be super hard/scary/impossible for me to hold. The one downside, I felt the pelvic pain I have been dealing with for what feels like forever come back.
I really wanted and needed for this week to be my come back, from both injury and self doubt.
When pain struck at the 2.5 mile mark, I told myself it was because I just wasn't used to running on the treadmill. That, I was just running a little too fast. And, that I was just being incredibly weak minded about the whole thing. Mainly, I wanted to convince myself that I would still be able to get in a few more long runs this week. Because, there is still that part of me that thinks if I run less than 40 miles in a week, then I will somehow have my status as avid/passionate runner revoked.
That brings up to today's run. It absolutely had to be a long one since I was such a good/safe runner and only ran 3 miles yesterday. Plus, my legs should have felt super fresh since they got a break from all the hill during that treadmill run. Wrong. I can assure you that my legs/pelvis/hips need a whole lot more than a 3 mile "break." I'm not entirely sure how long I was in pain for on today's 5.94 miler, I just know that by the time I was 3ish miles in and heading into lap 2, I had serious doubts about today's run being a "long" run. I still took my gel break at the 4.5 mile mark, and remained hopeful that the pain would vanish.
The questions remains, come back or set back?
The honest answer is, I don't know. Overall, this week has been good pace wise. Today's run was the only really "slow" run. Yeah, I am behind where I would normally be at distance wise, and pain has obviously become an issue again, but, I'm still able to run. Even if it's done at the speed I think I should or as far as I want to, it's something. It sure beats sitting on the sidelines and only being able to walk for miles/distance.
My only real strategy going forward is to just be sensible about my running. Listen to my body, run the distances that I am physically able to, and take an breaks that feel necessary in order to finish the run strong. That's it. Maybe that means having a few 30 miles weeks (or less). Maybe that means throwing caution to the wind and ramping up mileage for the next few weeks to 45 or 50 miles with zero rest days. We'll just have to wait and see.