We are having another (near) 50 degree day here in New England and I’m not running. I feel like I’m wasting it, like I’m passing up this random gift from Mother Nature by not hitting the road and getting in a few miles with less layers on. But, as much as it pains me to sit this weekend out, I must resist the urge.
My hamstring and Achilles tendon started bothering me a few weeks ago. I tried to ignore it, but we all know how that ends up. A wee niggle morphed into a full on pain, and in no time I was barely able to hobble out a 3 mile recovery run. With the distractions of moving, holidays, sick kids, etc, etc, I had neglected to take care of myself properly & it has affected my training. Because I slacked with proper warm ups, drills, and the like, my hamstring issues from last summer have returned full force and I was forced to take the week – the WHOLE WEEK – off. As someone who is in the throws of training for Boston with a serious goal in mind, this was a hard pill to swallow. What about fitness, what about strength, what about my pacing?! I’ve worked so hard, I can’t bear to lose any of it!
But a step back from running is what I needed.
So, this week has been spent on strength training (hello weight room, I’ve missed you!), gentle walking with the dog, and back to physical therapy. While I’m itching to run, I do know that this short amount of time off really won’t hurt my over all training. After all, what’s the point in limping through a few junky miles & causing real damage instead of sitting still for a few weeks and healing properly. I’d rather go into the race a little under trained than wind up injured and not race at all. And these past few days off have given me the time to reassess my running goals and restructure my training plan. I’ve taken a long hard look at my progress so far & I’ve made a few determinations:
- I’m running too fast. It feels good to fly, and it feels like progress to grab those little Strava crowns on every training run, but it’s been hurting me. I looked over my data & found that on most runs I’ve been at or near race pace when I should be going easy. This is extra strain that is tearing down my body. I need to run slower, a lot slower, and a lot more often. Easy does not mean a new course record on a segment.
- I go up, but don’t train for hills. I really like hills. I am solidly in the #TeamHillYes camp. It’s not that I like the hills, it’s that I like that others don’t like them. Other people’s weaknesses are my strength, so I’ve convinced myself that hills are my friend. And, because of that, I tackle every one full on. We’ve moved to a significantly hillier area than what I’m used to; every run is a hill workout – even my driveway! I’ve slacked on doing hill specific workouts, thinking my regular ups & downs would suffice (they don’t). But after reviewing the GAP (grade adjusted pace) data on Strava, I’ve found that I hit the hills hard, much harder than I should, and much more often than I should. This has been shredding my Achilles. I need to go back to training for hills the proper way & cooling my jets every time I see an incline in front of me on an easy run.
- I need to warm up properly. I know I’m supposed to do a warm up and a cool down. I know I need to do the dynamic drills, the strides, the stretches. I know, I know, I know. Those are the boring details about running that I’ve been neglecting, and those are the details that are coming back to bite me in the butt. After my Fall race I went into recovery mode, which meant slow, easy runs, if I ran at all. I didn’t bother with all the little extras and fell into the bad habit of just running. And then I didn’t change my habits when my training picked up again. And now my butt hurts. With colder weather, proper warm ups are even more of a must, so it’s no wonder my body is revolting. Yes it’s time consuming. Yes it’s boring. But it is oh-so necessary and I will be doing them from now on.
I’ve caught my injury before it was a “real” injury, before any true damage was done, so I will be able to return to training very quickly. Heck, the rest may have even done me some good. But it did wake me up. I need to do things the right way, the smart way, or I could be out. A week off was punishment enough and I have certainly learned my lesson & have changed my ways. I am a reformed runner!
Take it easy my friends, and stay safe out there!