Taking a pause…

Well my running has been put on pause at the moment due to a potential injury.  And here I am eating my own words (*instagram stories/blog) again. I THINK it has been well managed and I am ‘trying not to be injured’ rather than being injured BUT this brought up LOTS of feelings.  Since I know I am not the only runner that has struggled with injuries. And I always want to be honest and transparent in regards to my training I thought I would share some of my thoughts here. If nothing else, it is good for me to reflect and process and hopefully you can learn from my mistakes. Hopefully one day I will too.

So here is what happened.  Last Wednesday I had some knee discomfort at the end of my run which is weird for me I do not typically get knee pain. But I had gone on some trails which is also weird for me so I was quick to blame it on that. Ironically my coach had originally had it as a day off but I pushed him to let me ‘make use of this time’ to train (*lesson #1– LISTEN to your coach). Thursday on my run my right quad felt a bit off not pain just a weird sensation, that took me the whole run to realize oh shit maybe that is the bone (*lesson #2– LISTEN to your body).

So my initial reaction was: ‘YOU IDIOT’.  You promised yourself you would not do this again. You promised yourself you would #trainsmarternotharder and not be so caught up in the mileage and the ‘plan’.  But I got lost in the training and with increased recovery and rest I was loving taking advantage of the opportunity to train like a pro (*lesson #3– constantly be reflecting on training loads and other stressors). And to be honest I am really good at pushing myself and it is what I love about training. But I am not so good at listening to my gut. And at this moment in time there is literally no reason to be pushing the training, but I was.

After my harsh words with myself I decided to think of this time as time for my body to absorb the training. As I mentioned I had been training pretty hard through this self isolation period. Typically, when I have been injured I dig in to the cross training just as hard as I was training and I think sometimes this can stunt the recovery process (*lesson #4– when something comes up allow yourself some REST).  SO, this time I am trying to be more forgiving. Not being able to access much in the ways of cross training certainly helped that.  I took three days totally off.  Then I have done five days of a walk with some running (max being a broken up 30mins).  One day I tried to double with a bike ride but it increased the achiness, so I have not done that since.

The crazy thing is that without this pandemic I would have been training for a marathon along with the stress of my regular life, less sleep and more time on my feet.  So, I can only assume this would have happened sooner. But of course, there is no way to know this.

Even this week as I have eased off.  I find it so hard to hold back. There is a constant battle in my head of ‘maybe I should run just a little more’.  And left to my own devices I will push.  It is what makes me a good marathoner, but I have to be able to find the off switch sometimes, or at least a dial to ease it off at times.  But this will be an ongoing process to continually learn and reflect. Just because I CAN run a lot does not mean I SHOULD run a lot. I really do not want to be a runner that runs a good race and than is injured for a season.

I am quite quick to get over the initial reaction of being sad/disappointed/mad and to realize that this is a part of training hard. Do not get my wrong I am incredibly frustrated but can find a calm within it. It is important to accept those feelings, I find writing them down is helpful. Ironically, I am working on another blog post ‘how getting injured made me faster’ so here is to trying that theory out again. Although I initially had all these bad feelings within me I was also fine.  I know I will be okay.  I will run again.  I will run fast again.  But what I need to actually change is my mindset and habits for real this time (*lesson #5). For example it is taking everything in me to convince myself to take a day off again in order to get back at it faster. It is important to step back and think of the bigger picture and not just the ground covered and calories burned in a single day. Embrace the down time and give yourself the mental break as well!

So here is to hoping I can play it smart, time will tell.  In the meantime I am seeing some professionals to try to help sort out the underlying issues in order to be a healthier runner (*lesson #6). With the end goal of not being quite as susceptible to injury. Hopefully this is a scare and if so I am writing it right here right now I promise to not be so wreckless with my training. To truly embrace the least amount I can do in order to get the same outcome. And remember that the tolerable amount of training may change throughout time.

As I take this pause the lessons, I hope I (*and you) can learn from this are:

  1. Listen to your coach
  2. Listen to your body
  3. Constantly reflect on training loads and other stressors—be honest!
  4. Give yourself some rest if a niggle does come up
  5. Make positive change to habits and mindset
  6. Address and understand underlying issues

Here is to constantly trying to be a smarter and healthier runner! And in the mean time embracing the down time!

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