making changes, and running for the LOVE of running

Rock n Roll USA was just a little over 2 months ago and I’m finding that really hard to believe.  Time sure does FLY by.

Since recovering from that race, I’ve turned my focus toward shorter distances and have raced three times – setting PRs in both the 10 Miler and the 10k and coming really close in the 5k.  I’ve been averaging around 45-50 miles per week and my longest runs have been 14-16 miles.  Liberated from the rigors and the self-imposed pressure of marathon training for a little while (though I miss it and can’t wait to get back to it!), it’s been a lot of fun for me.  I’ve been running for the simple sake of doing something I love to do, and it has been more than wonderful.  The fact is though, I have been running a LOT and even though it’s been tons of fun, I haven’t really given myself – my legs – much of a break.

A couple of weeks ago I started noticing soreness in my calves and in my right foot.  I went to see Dr. Wong and brought my shoes in for him to take a look at them.  I’ve been spending a lot more time than usual in my 4mm drop Kinvaras (as opposed to the 8mm drop Triumphs I usually train in) and as a result my calves were getting tight which was causing the foot discomfort.  “Early stage plantar fasciitis” is what he told me.  Here is one thing I know for sure about running — nearly ALL running injuries are preventable if we listen to our bodies and if we pay attention and are SMART.

This is one of the MANY reasons I love seeing Dr. Wong.  He helps me keep things in check.  After seeing him I switched out my shoes (the Triumphs were completely worn – it was time for a new pair), built an extra rest day into my schedule and spent more time each day rolling out my calves with the Tiger Tail stick and stretching them after runs.

And you know what?  I feel so much better now.  No more weirdness in my foot.  My calves feel totally normal again.  Injury paranoia makes me completely neurotic.  All runners feel pain and tightness – and I’m convinced that if we all stopped running at the first sign of that, nobody would run at all on this good green Earth.  The trick is telling the difference between the kind of pain that we should push through and move past, and the kind of pain we should definitely not ignore.  When something bugs me and won’t go away, I take a close look at what I’ve been doing and ask myself some questions:

Have I been taking enough rest days?
Have I built my mileage properly?
What kind of speed work am I doing?  What have my paces been like?
What’s the scoop with my shoes?
What does my stretching, foam rolling, strengthening routine look like?
Where do I need to make changes to what I am doing?

In the case of this Spring, I determined that it was time for new shoes and that I should pay better attention to my calves since I was asking so much more of them in the speed department with all these shorter races.

shoe love

I got some new kicks that I am really really loving.  The New Balance 1080 v2 are very similar to the Saucony Triumphs I was training in – a neutral cushioned shoe with an 8mm drop.  I loved my Triumphs, but =PR= as out of my size when I went in to buy them and I had been really curious about this shoe anyway so I think it was meant to be.

I took them out for a spin on Saturday.  16 miles that could not have gone better.  It was a perfectly executed long run and was just what I needed to feel strong and ready as I head into my taper for the half marathon I’m running on June 2nd (ZOOMA Annapolis).  I averaged an 8:24 pace and the last 5 miles were all sub-8 with the last and fastest mile run up hill in 7:39.  It was pretty much perfect.

I have never tapered for a half marathon — every one I’ve ever run has fallen in the middle of marathon training so it hasn’t really been necessary.  I’ve decided that this time around I’m going to build a real taper phase into my preparations and this week marks the beginning of that.  It makes me feel excited – I really want to show up on race day feeling more than ready to rock it.  And the taper, though it will probably drive me crazy in more ways than one, will be GOOD for me.

Early this morning the Honey Badgers and I went out for an easy 6 mile run in the rain.  It was pouring and we were literally soaked from head to toe.  It was the perfect run to start my taper … out with friends just enjoying doing what I love to do, with people who GET that and share in it with me.

soaked and happy

When my alarm went off and I heard the rain falling, I knew that if my buddies weren’t meeting me there was absolutely NO WAY I would have motivated myself to get out that door (or even out of my bed at all), especially now that I am in taper mode.  Before we started running we all laughed at ourselves and said we better just get it done.  We’ve run in worse weather before.  We made it this far, we may as well JUST RUN.

My memory of today’s run will stick with me for a while I’m sure.  Yes, my fingers were pruning and my feet were squishy and wet in my shoes.  My hair was a rat’s nest, tangled and gross under my hat.  Not an inch of me was dry.  But it was so fun.  It was simple and peaceful.  The trail was lush and green.  The rain cooled me off when I started to warm up under my jacket.  We were running for the pure JOY of running.  And I loved every minute of it.

When I got home Abby was sitting in the front door, holding onto her blanky and her doll and watching us through the glass as she waved to us.  As I walked up the front step and opened the door she said “wow mama, you are one wet honey badger” and I burst into laughter.  Coming home to my warm cuddly family after a run like that is priceless.  I love mornings like this, and this is why running is so worth it to me.  The racing, the PRs the accomplishments that are mine alone – that is all icing on the cake and makes running exciting and meaningful on lots of levels.  But running for the simple JOY of the way I feel while I’m doing it, and really how I feel once it’s DONE – that is magical to me.  I will listen to my body and adapt as necessary to prevent myself from getting injured or burning out.  Because what it all comes down to is the fact that I LOVE TO RUN and I want to be doing this for all of my life.  I want to greet my grandchildren at the end of a run some day.  It is all a part of my dream.

welcome home, mama

9 thoughts on “making changes, and running for the LOVE of running

  1. There's so much in this post that I love. What a great reminder about listening to one's body to prevent injuries. I admire your patience and lifelong goal to keep running, and agree – it's so worth it!

  2. I am running Zooma Annapolis too…I hope. I am trying to get over a hip injury that came on quickly. I hope that I am doing the right things like you said in your post so I can actually race it and not just run it. Time will tell!

  3. It's funny how the runs that you dread the most before you start (like when it is pouring rain!) end up being the ones you enjoy/remember the most too. Great job! Love the pics!! And I love your attitude. I think you are going to do an amazing job at your half. I hope the new shoes work out and I am so glad you are feeling better. You are so smart to listen to your body and make the changes it needs. Hugs!

  4. You are so smart to listen to your body. You are right though – most injuries can be prevented (unless of course it's a bad fall or something)…you just have to know the signs to pay attention to. Glad that you have made a few changes in your training/gear so that there's no injury to deal with =)
    Excited for your half coming up – I am feeling another PR for you =)

  5. Love reading your blog-all the training information and tips is incredibly helpful! I am a former sprinter (400 meter runner) turned 5k and 10k girl at age 37. Between teaching 3rd grade all day and being a mother to my ten year old daughter, I try to find time to run and stretch 4x's a week. I am running the Zooma 10k in Annapolis June 2nd too!!

  6. Jessica I'm having the same weird foot thing right now. I've made an appointment to see a specialist and plan on backing off the Kinvara's (only been wearing them on the track). I hope it's not a big deal too. Glad you figured everything out to get back out running.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.