JUST A 5 MILE RUN
A whole heck of a lot has gone down since the last blog post.
First, I actually found myself enjoy the last few days of walking outside for 30 minutes in lieu of my normal 6-9 mile runs. For me, as seriously I as I have been taking running since I signed up for my half back in March, I found it relatively easy to switch my focus to rehab/taking time off (at least in this very short term situation). In fact, this time off made me really re-think my entire approach to running and training for this race.
In a perfect world, I would be able to run 40-50 miles a week every single week pain free.
Zero muscle soreness. No running inside on the dreadmill or falling on my face because of crappy sidewalks, slipping in the mud, or just tripping over my own two feet. I would get progressively faster each and every run. There would be no bad or hard runs to contend with. Every run would be absolute bliss and each moment would be one worth savoring.
In reality, though, things rarely go according to plan...both in running and life!
Good (or heck even great runs!) are far and few in between. The struggle, whether it be physical or mental, never goes away...no matter how many years or decades you've been hitting the pavement. Injuries are part of the gig. It's essentially what you sign up for from that very first time you lace up your shoes and decide to do this whole running thing for "fun." Progression. Is. NOT. Linear. And ice packs/foam rolling will become your saving grace.
Basically, I actually needed this short hiatus from running more than I wanted to admit that first day off (aka the last blog post).
And the proof is in just how superb this run felt. Like, I had completely forgotten just how good just running to run could feel. Not running to stay skinny or in shape. Or to over analyze everything that is going on in your life at the moment. But, running for the sheer joy of movement. Of putting one foot in front of the other and actually going somewhere. No specific distance in mind or goal paces. Just focusing on running strong and with good (or at least decent) form.
So, without further ado, let's get into today's FIVE MILE FRIDAY.
After just a few blocks, I could tell that taking those three days off from running had certainly helped with my injury. I felt lighter in a sense, like I suddenly had a whole lot of extra pep in my step. I had decided before the moment I woke up at 4:00 a.m. that there was no way I was going to even contemplate carrying a gel with me today. 1. I did not need the pressure of taking a gel at mile 4 and then HAVING to run another 3-5 miles just to justify taking it. And 2. Who runs that far there very first run back?!
It wasn't until I hit that first long, incredibly steep hill, that I really questioned just how ready I was to jump back into running.
At this point I was maybe a mile or so into my run. For some reason, it almost felt like I NEEDED to sprint up the hill. Like, I had all this energy/passion for running all of a sudden. So, why not take advantage of it. And, looking at my splits, I definitely tackled those first several hills way faster than I normally would. It just felt so dang good to actually be able to physically climb them, that I sort of forgot about the whole not burning out speed wise those first few miles.
I was able to hold a pace of 9:15-9:20 for the first 3 miles. And, believe it or not, that actually felt SLOW at some points.
It wasn't until I started down 11th street, aka lap 2, that I really started to feel fatigued. Not in pain or battling side stitches or anything crazy. Just, like I really couldn't continue to keep up such a fast pace. At least, not for that many more miles. Still, I pushed on, just focusing on using my arms, and continuing to pay attention to what my body was telling me. I knew by now that going 7-9 miles like I would have preferred on a "normal" week was out of the question. At the same time, every step I took felt like just maybe, if I slowed down, I could get there.
At mile 4, where I have been taking my gel stop, things got difficult.
I wouldn't say I was really in that much pain exactly, more like discomfort. But, I didn't want to end my run on a low note, or have to do the walk of shame back to the gym. Even though, it probably would have been the smarter/safer option. I had spend this whole run riding the line between comfort and discomfort, safe/unsafe. How fast can I run without going too fast. How hard can I push myself without re-injuring/messing up my pelvis AGAIN and having to take an entire WEEK off of running. It was a little bit like playing Russian roulette (or at least how I imagine playing Russian roulette would feel since I've never actually played it).
That last mile seemed to last for an eternity.
All I wanted, was to get back to the gym so I could see my time. See how good/bad they were and if that time off had really made a difference. For awhile, it felt like I was getting no where fast. Like, I had suddenly switched from running outside to on one of those little wheels that hamsters run on. Round and round I went. Seemingly staying in place. Getting farther away from the finish line with each stride. Nevertheless, I somehow made it to the 5 mile mark.
How fast you "feel" like you're going versus how fast you're actually moving can be VERY deceiving.
If you would have asked me how fast I ran/my average pace immediately after I got done this morning (before I had the chance to consult my watch), I would have probably guessed somewhere in the 9:50 to 10:00 mile range. Not the 9:31 pace that I actually ended up running. I would have called you a liar if you had told me that my mile 3 time was a 9:06. Because, that was the transition point between laps 1 and 2 and I know FOR SURE that I was really struggling at that point.
So it wasn't JUST a 5 mile run.
It was me running for the first time since Memorial day. It was running feeling effortless for the first time in ages. It was putting up the fastest times I have put up in nearly 3 weeks. It was, in essence, remembering what I LOVE about running so much. Why I choose to get up at the crack of dawn to do it 6 days a week, rain or shine, come hell or high water. It was overcoming the fear of pushing too much to push just enough. Enough to realize that you never "JUST" run x miles. Because, there's story behind each and every run that is unlike ANY other.