Torture Report: Walking a Tightrope & 4 Saturdays

(G): Last Tuesday, after my wild rant with all of you I was cleared by my physical therapist to run. That clearance came, as you can imagine, with all sorts of restrictions, caveats and parameters but offered the chance to run all the same!
This is what I have been working toward for weeks and it felt great to get the freedom to run. Before I even left the parking lot of my physical therapist, I was texting my husband to see if he wanted to run with me later.
Another way you can appreciate just how excited I was is that we had a burst of summer last week and I wasn’t even deterred by the near 90-degree weather. I am not a good hot-weather runner. I train in the heat and I do my best but it’s not my jam. But there was not a chance I was going to run inside.
So I hit the trail on Tuesday afternoon and it was everything I hoped it would be and a few more issues I knew would tag along but chose to ignore. Let’s start with my hopes. I felt free running and breaking a sweat, which doesn’t take long when it’s 88 degrees. Even though thinking about how I run takes tremendous mental effort I still felt great. My foot felt good, except for a little tightness since I haven’t been able to run in several weeks.

For the things I tried to ignore, I am completely out of any type of running shape. So while I’m not allowed to run more than 5 miles it’s not a problem because I am not sure I could have anyway. It was super steamy and my body hasn’t acclimated in any way so that was rough. And lastly, since I am trying to fix how I run, I feel like I have no idea what I am doing. When I focus on my cadence and foot strike I run too fast or too slow and am all over the place. So if you see someone out on the trail running fast, then slow, then walking, then sprinting, it might just be me. And if you are a fan of the show Friends, just think Phoebe running. Yep, it’s like that.

The only person happier that I am running is Swaggy J.
Working hard and I can see from this photo still lots of work to do.

But all of that isn’t what makes this return to running tough. What is making me a little nuts is the variability. Some days I can run and some days my foot won’t tolerate it. I have strict instructions that if my pain increases I have to drop my intensity. I was able to run Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Then Friday I was feeling a little twingy and since I don’t want to move backward, I walked a couple miles instead. Then Saturday I ran 4 miles but got a little wild in my foot strike and aggravated my foot so Sunday, back to resting.

This little dance of go, stop, wait is not easy. But I am really trying to follow the rules instead of pushing through and then being back to where I started. I tell myself that one day off is better than four weeks off and that’s 100% true.

And did I mention my rehabilitation regimen? This workout is no joke. It’s not that I am doing superhuman feats of strength but it’s a string of exercises that are combined to highlight my weaknesses. I do about 15 exercises in a row that draw out every falter, every compensation, every hiccup. And then it works it until you are out of breath and sweating. The plan, of course, is that in time these falters, compensations and hiccups will instead become my strengths, my powerhouses. I believe that’s true but in the meantime it is every bit mental as it is physical to go repetition after repetition and set after set of activities that I am not able to do well. To give you an example of how wide the space is I need to close, I have a balance exercise that has a goal of 20-30 repetitions without losing my balance. Currently, I am excited if I can do five.

Every day I get my index cards with all my exercises listed out and I strive to complete 75% of them and what I don’t get in, goes to the top of the stack for the next day. I do stack the deck though. I make sure the really difficult exercises get done every day. The ones that I am fairly good at can miss a day. These exercises take me a solid 2 hours and if I get it all in we’re looking at nearly three. And then, if it’s a really great day, add in another 45 minutes to an hour that I get to run.

I share all of this to illustrate that I have never worked harder. Sure I have run for hours at a time but that’s more static in that I am not sprinting or pushing as hard as possible and there is an opportunity for your mind to wander. This current routine requires all my focus in every minute or I don’t activate all the muscles I am suppose to, I compensate, I cheat in some way.

The easiest part of my rehab! My toe socks help to stretch out my toes and condition my feet, all while I relax.

The positive to this, aside from being able to do some running, is that I sleep like a rock. By day’s end my brain is so exhausted that I crash into bed and don’t wake up until the alarm goes off or my angry feline yowls about the unconscionable living conditions he’s being exposed to. I am walking a tightrope of too much and not enough every day and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I figure if I can do this, I can do just about anything.

(L)  I seriously do not even know how to follow G’s post.  She has the ability each week to laser in on exactly what needs to be done and stay singularly focused.  I don’t know if I have too many distractions in my life or if I just didn’t get that particular laser beam focus gene.  Week after week I get to Monday night and I have to take stock of what I actually did over the last week.  Basically, run, walk, squats and crunches and a million things that have nothing to do with training.

I am one month out from my first, and perhaps only, race of the year.  The last couple of weeks have kept me distracted, but I am happy to report that I am still mostly pain free.  Running and walking seem to be keeping me loose.  Running still requires some prep work, but not quite the routine that G endures on a daily basis.  Mine does not require index cards and it takes minutes versus hours.

I haven’t run any further than 5 miles so I definitely have my work cut out for me over the next month, but I am up for the challenge. Hopefully, we are finished with the snow, but the hubby did fix the treadmill this weekend so I am prepared regardless of the weather.

Just a normal May snowstorm.

So, what’s my plan over the next month?  I plan to run low mileage through the week and do my longer training runs on the weekend.  I have four Saturdays to train before the race and my goal is to run 7, 9, 11 and 13 miles.  This allows me the opportunity to run the full mileage prior to the race, which always makes me feel more confident going into race day.

As usual I won’t be breaking any records, but I will be more prepared than last year.  And just in case I had any doubts I got this little mojo booster in the mail this week.  Thanks, G!  We CAN DO EPIC S#*%!

Sunshine & Sarcasm,

Lowi & G

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Annie says:

    Congratularions on your freedom to run again! I so admire your stick-to-it-tiveness.


    1. G (of Lowi & G) says:

      Thanks Annie. I am pretty pleased about it.


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