It really feels like I’m starting over from the beginning. I try not to care about pace, but when I am falling further behind those I used to run with, it’s really difficult to not care. I have three choices at this point; run with slower runners, run faster, enjoy the solitude. I’m trying to do the latter, but I’m doing some of the first as well.
I have made a few mistakes in my recuperation, but I think I’ve done some things right too. First thing I did wrong was my resting strategy. For plantar fasciitis, complete rest is a bad idea. The muscles will heal tighter and cause other injuries later when running is resumed. THAT explains the Achilles problems! I should have used more massage and continued running shorter distances. What I did was to rest during the week and continue the long runs on the weekends. I should have reversed that.
I’ve tried rotating my shoes. This was not a completely bad idea, but the Mafates (Hoka), with their additional cushioning, provide a much more comfortable ride and less Achilles pain. Playing soccer in Luna sandals was a bad idea (two broken toes). Shorter runs in the Cascadias (Brooks) are ok, but the Mix Master Move (Merrell) and Lunas are too flat and do not provide enough cushioning. The Mix Master actually has the same drop as the Mafate, but the cushion difference is significant. When I am completely healed, I hope to run more in the Lunas and the Merrels, but running without pain is more important.
Meanwhile… focusing on chi running and improving my form. I have found that it quickly becomes more natural to me. I have developed a habit of rotating my focus. Mid-foot strike/ lean, posture, breathing, cadence… repeat. I find that my lean determines my speed with much less effort than trying to move my feet faster. I try to keep a steady cadence and adjust speed with lean. I’m not very good at it yet, I forget to lean and my pace is slow. As I improve, my cadence will increase slightly and my lean will improve. My next race is a 10 mile trail run that I’ve run before, so it will be a good test of my progress.
Mental recovery is more difficult. Over training was my nemesis last year. I am not going to be able to return to old form and condition by forcing myself to run further or more often. It will only cause me to prolong my recovery or injure myself in other ways.
So I run short runs with slower runners… these slower runners. They won’t be slower for long, but I love running with them. the conversations usually go like this:
“Sean, do you want to go run?”
Gabriela: “I do, I do!”
Sean: “I guess. How far?”
Me: “Not too far. Georgia, do you want to go?”
Me: “Well, you’re going any way.”
And we go. And they love it. Although Georgia will never admit it.
These runs are shorter and there is no pressure to keep any given pace. It gives me an opportunity to spend time with my kids and focus just on form and breathing.
I still love running with my friends, even though I can’t keep up for very long. I am finding that I can maintain pace a little longer now and I don’t get as far behind as I was a couple of months ago. The key, mentally, is to not let it bother me that I am running behind.
Single track running through the trees with no one but God is the ultimate in trail running. Sometimes I have music, but other times I enjoy the solitude and the quiet.
I can work more on cadence and lean on these runs. Sometimes I get so into the running that find myself on unfamiliar trail (read: “lost”), but I have found my way back… eventually.
For any of my readers who have been with me for a while, you may remember my post from the beginning of the year (For The Love). I am re-finding the joy of running in these moments.
Truth be told, sometimes its best to slow down and look around; enjoy the moment, enjoy the view. Speed may or may not return. My faster friends don’t seem to mind that I can’t keep up and I still get to the end in time for watermelon and beer… that’s why we run anyway.