BACK TO THE PAVEMENT // EPIC LEG DAY
This morning’s weather was definitely not ideal for outdoor running.
The freshly fallen snow combined with slick spots at virtually every corner made running outside a whole risk versus reward scenario. However, after this week’s slew of mediocre treadmill runs, there was no doubt in my mind when it came to choosing where to run today. There was no way I was going to be able to get in the miles I wanted and needed on that damn treadmill. So, I took the far riskier route of running on the pavement. And, I could not have asked for a better run. Every single part of today’s 5 miler went according to plan…if ya know I had had a plan when I took off at 4:45 a.m. into the dark, foggy streets.
Just because I had 5 miles on the schedule, did not mean I had any guarantee of physically being able to run that far. This was my first outdoor run in almost 9 weeks and I don’t run well in slip ‘n’ slide like conditions. Still, I had enough adrenaline and endorphins running through my system, that I never once doubted myself during my run. I was far too busy just soaking it all in. From the sound of my footfalls on the pavement, too the feeling of the wind blowing through my hair. I felt unstoppable. Even when I stumbled upon an extra slippery stretch of sidewalk or road, I never panicked or felt ready to call it quits. I just focused on keeping my balance and moving forward with a little extra caution.
The best part, by far, was running down the deserted sidewalks on Main Street at the 2.5 mile mark.
When I hit a 2 or 3 block stretch of sidewalk with no snow or ice whatsoever…I thought I was in Heaven. Finally, I had the opportunity to really push myself pace wise without the fear of falling flat on my face. Once I hit the 3.3 mile mark, I knew that I had to at least run 4 miles. AT LEAST. By that point, I was noticeably struggling and did not want to put too much pressure on myself to hit 5 miles. 4 miles in and I knew the smartest thing I could do was stop. I hadn’t fallen yet and it seemed like the perfect moment to stop and consider this run a HUGE victory. But, I had an internal drive to hit 5 miles. This was mainly due to the fact that I hadn’t run more than 4 miles all week. And, of course the whole, “this is your first outdoor run in about a million year, SO DON’T HALF ASS IT…Make it count.”
So, despite every part of me wanting to physically stop, I continued on towards the twisty trail. I hadn’t gone more than a quarter of a mile when I felt an immediate sense of regret. My hip (which one? who knows. in the moment I just knew it was being pain in my butt) started acting all crazy, like it just could not stand to run another step. Me being me, I convinced myself that my other hip and leg were just going to have to compensate for the fact that one leg/hip were not in the mood to run any more. Which, in hindsight, seems pretty ridiculous.
Anyway, slowly but surely, I ran the last three quarters of a mile and was then able to focus all of my attention on training my legs at the gym.
There was literally no time to bask in the glory of my first outdoor run, my mile 1 time of 9:24, or the fact that I was still standing on two feet. Oh, no. It was time to destroy my legs (again) with all the heavy weight and pretend like my entire lower body wasn’t falling apart. The first few sets of squats were a little rough, and all I could think about was, “Man why couldn’t I have just been okay with 3 miles?!” Set by set, things got a little easier mentally, I was able to gain the courage to try for a new PR. I hit 195 lbs. on back squat for 2 reps. During and afterwards, my whole body was shaking, And I couldn’t help but think, “this is exactly what has been missing from my lifting and running lately.”
That whole push your body to the it’s limits and the brink of exhaustion; those are the kind of workouts and runs that I live for. So, it really didn’t surprise me when I got the nerve to up last week’s barbell RDL weight by 5 pounds. Yet, I was surprised by the fact that I was able to pick 140 pounds off the ground and get in 3 reps with sort of good form.
I’m not quite sure if this run was really worth the wait. Which, is weird to say considering just how enjoyable and invigorating it was. I just think 9 weeks away from the pavement was way too long and it going to require a lot adjustment in terms of mileage and pace. Also, there’s the obvious factor that it going to be far too easy for me to overdue things the first few weeks and put myself back on injury row. No matter what happens, I am going to be grateful for each and every mile (even the really sucky, slow, and sweaty ones that feel impossible to get through).