Relearning to Run


girlsontherunbibA while back I posted about my struggles getting back into running. Things were so uncomfortable I decided to put running on hold a while longer. Two weeks ago I decided to try again. As expected, every step hurt.

I told myself to just run ten steps, then I could walk a while. And so I did.

After walking a bit I encouraged myself to run 15 steps. And so I did.

I noticed the muscles in my foot were starting to loosen up a bit. I encouraged myself to run a 10th of a mile. And so I did.

Before I knew it I was alternating walking and jogging in 1/10 mile increments. I did this for 1.2 miles. I was elated. But that was the only time I ran that week. I’ve done a lot of swimming, biking and walking in preparation for the TriathlonI’mNowhereClosetoBeingReadyFor which is, ahem, this Saturday.  Everything feels natural in the water, I’m getting more comfortable on the bike, and walking feels ok with the exception of normal post-surgery foot soreness.

But my legs felt weird when I ran, as if I were running on someone else’s legs. The movements feel unnatural. I know it’s because I hadn’t run since December 22, 2012 (but who’s counting). In eight month’s time I’ve gone from someone who pretty much stayed trained up for a half marathon to someone whose legs won’t work right. That’s what a forced time-out will do.

And then there was last week. Wonderful, heavenly last week.

I decided to try running again on Friday. This time there was none of this encouraging myself to run 10 steps, then 15 steps. I walked 1/10 of a mile then I ran 1/10 of a mile. I did this again and again until I’d covered 1.4 miles. And get this. My legs felt like MY LEGS…my short, stubby legs. My gait felt natural. Yes, there was foot soreness, but not enough to make me hobbletrot.

At the end of my personal marathon 1.4 miles I ran into an acquaintance of mine, the board chair of Nashville’s Girls on the Run. There I was with my hands on my knees, gasping for breath. She’d just finished her run and looked fresh as a daisy. Fabulous.  I was so happy that I’d chosen to wear my Girls on the Run 5k t-shirt that morning. Otherwise she might not have noticed me. I jest. But Friday’s run served to rid me of the fear that I can’t do this…that I can’t push through the pain. Pain is a natural part of this process. My foot muscles get a little looser every time I challenge them.

Now I’ve got a plan in place to prepare for a couple of Fall 5ks. I’m going to increase my mileage a little each week until I’m covering three miles. Once I hit that three-mile mark I’ll start increasing the time running thereby decreasing the time walking.

I’m back, baby!

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2 Responses to Relearning to Run

  1. wf7i says:

    Congrats on your returning to running. I’m also dealing with a slow return after a heart surgery in November. I think most of 2014 is going to be out for me especially in regards to racing. So I know a little bit of what you’re going through.
    I’m also trying to work in gradually longer or faster runs. In my case it’s inflammation in my chest following the surgery that’s causing me trouble, so I have to keep an eye on heart rate. It’s so tough because I want to do so much more!
    Feel free to follow my blog too. I update it regularly as I try to navigate through this process. All the best, Bert

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