If you follow me on Strava, then you’ve probably noticed I haven’t run since February 10th. Yes, that was over 5 weeks ago! The reason why is twofold: I hurt myself, but I also was kind of over running… so it’s a welcomed (albeit forced) break. What happened, you ask? Great question! I sure do wish I had a good answer, but as with most running related injuries, I don’t. Here’s some background, though.
I was running about 20 miles per week for the last few months; nothing wild and crazy by any means, but enough to keep me in relatively decent running shape. I wasn’t doing any workouts or anything longer than 10 miles (which I think I did maybe three times). I’ve been lifting heavy weights once a week and trying to get in another strength training session (usually in the form of Pilates) and a day of yoga, but that was really it. Again, nothing wild and crazy. So on February 10th I set out for 8 miles since I was planning to run the NYC half on March 18th and wanted to make sure I had done at least one 10 mile run before then. The run was normal – dare I even say I felt good. The weather was ideal, and I ran those 8 miles in just under an 8 minute average – not blazing fast, but on the quicker ‘back to my old self’ side of things. But during the run I noticed some pressure in my knee — it felt almost like it needed a pop (like there was air in it). I didn’t think anything of it, but towards the end it started to bother me a little more. I finished my run, went and got coffee, and took an epsom salt bath thinking it was just a weird little ache that would go away. Oh was I wrong! As the day progressed it got more and more painful to the point where I couldn’t even squat down or get up without medial and lower knee pain. This was not good.
I knew based on the pain I was having going up and down stairs that running for the next few days was out of the cards. Again, I didn’t think it was that big of a deal at first. But as the days progressed and the pain barely got better, I started to get worried. Did I tear something? Did I somehow break something in/around my knee? Doctor Google was, of course, not my friend. While I was frustrated, I also realized that I didn’t care that much. Sure, I wanted to run the NYC Half, but was I really that bummed about not having to force myself out of bed at 5am to run in the cold darkness? Not really. Maybe it’s because I’ve been injured more than I haven’t in the last 4 years, but I’m just so used to it now that it doesn’t wreck me like it used to. I’m also lucky that there are other fitness activities I can do when I’m hurt that I do enjoy. Thankfully, a reliable physiotherapist suggested spinning, yoga, and weight lifting (as long as I wasn’t squatting in those early days) was enough to give me my aerobic and anaerobic fix. Of course not running when you identify yourself as a runner stinks, but I’ve learned (pretty well I must say) to deal with it.
After about 4.5 weeks my knee pain was completely gone, but I was still too nervous to actually try a run. We’ve all been in those situations as injured runners where we think we’re okay to try a run again, we do it, and that run takes us back a few steps in our recovery process. Because there’s no hurry for me to ‘get back in it,’ I’m being overly cautious with my return. At this point I’m just over the 5 week mark since I hurt myself, and I’m thinking I will give myself at least another week before I try again. My PT who thinks it was a ligament strain said they usually take 4-6 weeks to heal… so why not just wait that long. I’ve also been dealing with some neuroma pain in my toe (thanks too tight rain boots!), so it’s not like I’ve been feeling monster anyway. I am signed up for the BAA 5k in April and I’d like to run that, even though I know it’s not going to be anywhere near the time I wanted… but oh well!
I had been thinking about trying to take a running break — a true running break when I don’t actually run at all for awhile — so this proved to be the forced opportunity to do so. I’m registered to run the NYC Marathon in November, and I really want to do it. I haven’t run a marathon since 2013 and haven’t made it through a training cycle uninjured since 2014. The only goals I have for the race are to actually get to the start line, and then once I do, get to the damn finish line (in one piece). I want to be able to start training without any lingering injuries or issues, and I know that taking a full break and starting back up slowly is my best chance to actually accomplish that. After I (hopefully) get through this round of marathon training, I’m going to take another hard look at my running and reevaluate if it’s something I really want to keep doing. Don’t get me wrong – I love running so much – but it’s just caused me more heartache and physical pain than I think it’s worth over the last 4 years. I mean, this isn’t my job and I want to be able to exercise and live without pain as I get older and beating myself up (for what?!) now isn’t worth it. That’s not to say I want to completely stop running, but I think I need to really consider not running any races over 13.1 miles for a long time (or ever). Lifting heavy, pouring sweat on a spin bike, and working my tiny muscles on the megaformer death machine till they shake give me a sense of accomplishment that while doesn’t rival running, is a close and maybe ‘good enough’ second place. And there’s always swimming.
So yeah, this post isn’t really anything new. Surprise, Danielle hasn’t been running because she hurt herself but still wants to try and run a marathon. That can be my memoir title. But I think I’ve finally turned a corner when it comes to forcing myself to do things that maybe just don’t work for me anymore. Or to try some new approaches. I’m feeling good considering I haven’t run in 5 weeks and don’t have a plan for when I’ll return, which quite frankly, is a pleasant surprise to myself. That being said I am planning on running the Newport 10k in May, and have a giveaway coming up! So if you want to run the Newport 10k with me in Jersey City in May stay tuned for a giveaway post later this week!!