THIS IS NOT A GOOD SIGN
Long runs have always been a bit of an emotional roller coaster, and these past two runs have been no exception.
Wednesday’s 5 miler was decently fast, and I finally felt like I was ready to consider myself “recovered” from my injury. It wasn’t PR fast or anything, but I was happy with running the distance at an average pace of 9:29 minutes per mile. I didn’t expect to get super emotional at the end of that run, and it wasn’t even about the distance, the pace, or the run itself. At some point during that run I had let my mind wander a little to far off track. Back to this time last fall when everything was better in almost every aspect. Less stress. More fun. Better runs. You get the picture. So, basically I was a mess…but that’s sorta been the new normal these days.
When I woke up yesterday feeling like trash after a sleepless night, I decided the best thing I could do for my body and mind was to take a rest day. It just didn’t make sense to force myself or my body through a 6 mile run + 30 minute incline walk + 90 minute upper body day if I wasn’t up to it. I was proud of myself for taking that impromptu rest day. I was convinced that that rest day was going to solve all my problems, remove every barrier that was between me and a really, super speedy 6 mile run time. Then, everything got flip turned upside down.
The first two miles (lap 1) were of course nothing short of spectacular.
I felt great about my pace and my decision to take things easy yesterday. The weather was perfect, and I was having a lot of fun not freezing for once during an early morning run. Towards the end of those first 2 miles, I got a surprise. A sign of things to come, if you believe in that kind of stuff (which I TOTALLY do). Lately, I haven’t encountered a whole lot of wildlife while out on my runs, probably due to the cold temperatures. So, when I saw a cat in somebody’s front yard, I was caught just a little bit off guard. When that cat turned out to be a ginormous raccoon who sprinted across the street the minute he heard/saw me, and leapt down through a tiny slit into the sewer…I PANICKED.
All I could think about was getting bit and then contracting rabbies, and having to get one of those really painful shots. And, OMG I DO NOT HAVE A HIGH PAIN TOLERANCE AT ALL. I didn’t once stop and think about that hilarious episode of the Office where Michael organizes that 5K race to raise money to find a cure for rabbies. I was far too busy having a meltdown and running all over the sidewalk. It wasn’t until a mile or so later that I realized that this hubub could have been a sign that I should just cut this run short.
I really, REALLY am not supposed to run through the pain. Like, the minute I am in pain that alters my running form/pace significantly, I should stop.
So, when I got to that point (somewhere around the 3-3.5 mile mark), I got concerned. Not concerned enough to stop, but still fully aware of how this was not a good sing, at all. Now, looking at a visual of my pace throughout this entire run, I can see that is right around when I started to slow ever so slightly down. I hadn’t even had to climb any hills yet at that point. So, something was clearly wrong, but I needed to get to 6 miles today. In my mind, I almost felt betrayed by my body. Like, I have been putting in the work. Adding in extra core exercises to my workouts. Doing the daily icing (for the most part). And, TRYING MY DAMNEST TO REMAIN POSITIVE.
And, now, out of nowhere…things start to fall apart. I hoped and prayed for a train, as the mini hill loomed in the distance, silently mocking me. Challenging me. I’m sort of surprised I made it up that thing without any walking or cussing. The absolute worst part…realizing I still had another 1.2 miles to go when I got down to the gym. I cannot even put into words just how badly I wanted to quit right there. Make it to 5 miles, say I gave it my all…and just came up a little short.
I define myself as a runner. Ask anyone who knows me, and they’ll tell you that I am crazy about pounding the pavement in the dark and all sorts of less than ideal weather conditions.
Somehow, the thought of cutting runs short or taking walk breaks or not enjoying every minute spend running, is a threat to that definition and identity. It would take away from the authenticity of it. Make me a fraud and a liar. So, I trudged on through the pain. I avoided the twisty trail, because I just had a feeling that today was not the day to venture down that path. I ran in circle for year and years, pondering what on earth I had done to cause this sort of injury relapse. During that last mile, I felt literally every emotion you can think of. Anger. Confusion. Sadness. You name it, and I was probably feeling it.
When at long last I finally got to the finish, I was unsure what exactly to make of this run. On the one hand, it was around 10 seconds faster than last week’s 6 miler. On the other hand, all this pain and running with crappy form just could not be good for my body. I eventually came to the conclusion, that I honestly have to clue what is going on. I’ve been super careful to limit myself distance wise, the most miles I’ve ran over the course of 7 days is 29 miles. That sort of weekly mileage was mere child’s play this time last year. I have been religious when it comes to stretching at the end of every workout.
I do not enjoy being in pain. I also do not enjoying taking time off from running, or having to run a severely low amount of miles. So, we’re at a crossroads right now. I plan on running 8 miles on Sunday, and then moving forward based on how that run goes. It might go fan freaking tastic with zero issues…or it could be an absolute shit show. Only time will tell.