Next Big Step Accomplished!
Wednesday, October 08, 2014
I started running again about 1.5 weeks ago. Since I don’t want to undo 12 weeks of healing, I heeded the doctor’s advice and started my comeback slowly. I listened to my body and pushed it when I felt I could, and scaled back when necessary. After three sessions of 2 to 3 miles of running/walking, with the longest distance of 1 mile of straight running and no ill after effects, I decided it was time push it and run 3 miles without stopping.
Part of the reason I decided to do that was because the ankle was feeling normal while swimming. Early on, before I was able to run, I swam laps to PT the ankle and build up muscle. When I first started swimming I could feel stuff “flopping” around, meaning the bone was probably moving as well as tendons. It felt loose. Last week during my swim session, everything felt like it was back in place, and even with fins, the ankle felt pretty good. I did several lengths of just kicking without additional pain.
Although I was determined to do the distance, I decided there would be a few things that would cause me to walk or stop (turns out there was one more thing, but more on that later):
1. There was an unusual or sudden, sharp pain in the healing ankle
2. I feel a muscle or tendon strain (I am still building those back up, too)
3. I get overheated (it’s still hot and humid here)
4. I become exhausted. I am still building endurance back up, and from time to time I will be going along just fine and then I have a sudden energy drop, but this is getting less and less and I actually haven’t experienced this in a while.
I have a few routes in my neighborhood. One is in on my side of the main road, where I have 8/10s of asphalt sidewalk, there is up to 1.5 miles of a combination of sand road/asphalt sidewalk, or I can do loops (kind of around the block but in ½ mile increments). I can also run up and down the ¼ mile side streets and get in 10 miles without straying more than ½ mile from home. I use this last route if the weather looks like it's going to get nasty so I can get home quickly. I can't tell you how many times I have been a mile or more away from home and a thunderstorm with big, close lightning has popped up.
There is also a long out and back route that starts a few blocks away on the other side of the main road, and I like to use it because there is very little traffic (no fumes) and it’s quiet with opportunities to see nature. I decided to use that route partly because my neighborhood route was getting boring, but mostly because I use this route for my really long marathon training runs. I drive along this route fairly often, and I always think about all of the long runs I have done, and how I felt when I was running under that bank of trees or that time I did the 22 mile run on that freezing, windy day. I have been longing to get back to that training (okay not the one with the freezing wind), and I thought getting back on this route would be a big mental boost, and it was.
I walked the .3 mile to the start, and began at a slow pace. I decided I would make myself do this slow since this was the first time I have not done this distance in several months. I came to ½ mile before I knew it. While everything was feeling good, the calf on my “good” leg started to twinge, so I slowed a bit and it worked itself out. I was coming up on a mile and just settling into my normal running haze when I saw something on the sidewalk in my path . . . snake! Now, I’m not afraid of snakes, but I also respect them. I will approach a black snake since they are harmless, but this one was near water and I wasn’t sure what it was. I could be a water moccasin or a harmless water snake. So I paused my Garmin and stopped. I was surprised that it didn’t seem to register I was there. No tongue flicking, no tail movement, nothing. I tossed some pebbles at it, and it still didn’t move, and I realized it was harmless because it was dead (later online research determined it was a water snake - also harmless). So I restarted the Garmin and continued, and did a little mental celebration after passing the one mile mark.
When I got to the halfway point I turned around and headed back. My legs felt good, there were no issues with the ankle, but the first half of the run was against a light breeze which helped to keep me cool, and I was now running with the breeze, and it got hot fast. I managed to run to 2.3 miles and had to walk to cool down a bit, but picked it back up at 2.5 miles and finished the 3 miles in 36:00. I was happy with the time, considering I walked .2 of it. There was no remarkable ankle swelling afterward, and while the area is slightly sore today (as well as a few running muscles), I know that I didn’t overdo it, and that next week I will be able to go longer.
I have a 5K race in 2 weeks and I am confident that I will have a respectable time – not a PR, but not 36:00, either. In the meantime, I will continue to look forward to my half marathon on December 7. My goal was initially to “just finish”, but after yesterday I see no reason why I won’t be able to run the entire 13.1.