Thursday, December 18, 2014

Go Ahead, Call it a Comeback

Yeah, it's been a long time since my last post. The truth of the matter is that in the deepest throes of my injury, the last thing I wanted to do was talk about it. I pretty much avoided social media for months because I couldn't bear to read about my friends having great runs and PRing races. Maybe that makes me a jerk, but I was a jealous hater.

When I started PT in March, I thought I would just take a few weeks off and everything would just sort itself out. After six weeks, things were still pretty painful. I had dry needling sessions every couple of weeks from the middle of my back down through my hamstring. Just sitting in the car was so painful in my glute and SI joint I would cry on the way home from work. Things were progressing so slowly and to say I was frustrated would be a severe understatement.

Despite my whining, I kept up with my exercises and eventually I was cleared to use my road bike. I have always loved cycling but it always took a back seat to running. I was thrilled to be able to do some sort of physical activity. And loved being able to ride so much throughout the summer.

This was my view for most of the summer. I didn't hate it.

Between the biking and increasing the intensity of my PT exercises I was able strengthen my core and glutes and slowly eliminate all the pain I had been feeling for months. In July had a treadmill test where my gait was analyzed and after a few adjustments I was told to go home and try out a run on my own.

Maybe I was a little excited

My first few runs were very short and very slow and I paid super close attention to how every thing was feeling. While I was so happy to be running it was also discouraging to realize how much fitness I had lost over the course of three months. I had to start all over again and it took a while to stop comparing myself to where I was before the injury.

Because I work better with goals I chose a Thanksgiving Day 10k race to train for. I took a month or so to very gradually ease myself back into running on a regular basis. In September I  started the 10k Finish It plan from Another Mother Runner and very carefully started to increase the intensity of my workouts. Along the way though something just clicked. I was able to stop relying on run/walk intervals and run continuously.  This in itself was a big deal to me since I have been running intervals for the past couple of years and had convinced myself that I needed them. My runs got longer and longer and I found myself not needing to stop and walk. It was a huge confidence boost at a time I desperately needed one. 

I loved the AMR plan because it also incorporated speed work, which is something I never really did with any other training plan. Speed work came mostly in the form of short high intensity intervals. They started out small and gradually increased in difficulty each week. I found myself looking forward to these workouts. Because all of my mid-week running is done on a treadmill, they really broke up the monotony and occupied my brain for the whole workout.

Around the same time I also started really focusing on my diet in an attempt to lose some weight. I added cross training to my training and continued focusing on core and glute strength. To date I have lost 15 pounds and have seen all sorts of benefits. I can now fit into a pants size I haven't seen since before my 9 year old was born.  Most exciting to me though is watching my paces drop. The combo of the speed work and the weight loss has done incredible things for my running so far.

In October I decided to test things out with a local 5 mile race. Originally I was going to skip it this year but a bunch of friends were running and I had a ton of FOMO. I decided that it would be a no pressure race and just have fun. As I was running I couldn't believe how great I felt and I couldn't believe the numbers I was seeing on my Garmin. I finished the race in about 9.5 minutes faster than last year and had my first single digit average pace (9:59 totally counts). 

My first race in a Oiselle singlet. It definitely gave me wings.

I used the momentum from the race to drive the rest of my training for the 10k. I relied on the MacMillan calculator for my training paces and set a goal time of 1:02:xx which would be about a 5min PR for me.  I was nervous about this goal but equally as excited.

The 10k itself was in Ohio where we were spending the holiday with my husband's family. I expected it to be flat but encountered a lot of rolling hills. I'm used to them so they were no big deal, it was just a surprise. With the exception of a down hill second mile clocking in at 9:35, I kept the pace around 10:00/mile for the whole race and knew that my A goal was within my reach. I stayed strong physically and, most importantly, mentally throughout the whole race. I was able to push through the times where I wanted to slow down or even walk. I felt I ran as strong as I could the entire race. I finished in 1:02:08, which is a 5:39 10k PR for me.

Total goober

Training for and running this race was beyond anything I could have hoped for. I have said on more than one occasion that getting injured was the best thing that has ever happened for my running. Sure it was impossible to see that when I was in the middle of it, but recovering from injury allowed me the chance to totally reset my running. I am gaining the confidence I need to run faster and to try new things. I am approaching my diet and cross training with a different mindset as well. I believe all of this is just setting me up for great things ahead.

Next up - double digit runs and my return to the half marathon!

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