Three weeks ago, I had the GREATEST RUN in the history of my LIFE. 7.6 miles of perfect bliss. Every step felt awesome, like I was running weightlessly through a field of marshmallows and bunnies.
The following week, I ran the worst 8.5 miles ever. Each step felt like a struggle, like my legs were being eaten by rabid and carnivorous bunnies.
Such is running, apparently. I’ve started to get used to the ups and downs of my training program. I know every great run is usually followed by miles for which I have to fight. I’ve even begun to welcome the tough runs because I know they are training me mentally for future races. Mentally, I am my greatest liability. I fixate on my Garmin, studying my pace and splits, beating myself up for not hitting sub-10:30 miles yet. iWill intervenes, reminds me that I’ve only been running for 6 months, that I’m doing better than I ought to be, and that speed will come with experience but first I should focus on building a solid foundation. He’s very wise and his words are soothing, allowing me to slow my roll and enjoy 3 mile runs at any pace.
Then I see him hit consistent sub-8:30 miles and all of my inner peace and acceptance goes to hell and I want to KICK his FACE and steal his running ability. Never mind that he’s been running for 3 years. I want to be at that level RIGHT THIS MINUTE.
Here’s something that might shock you: I spend the majority of my life caps locked. Here, I’ll give you space to recover from that bombshell of BRAND NEW INFORMATION.
Yeah, okay. Maybe this isn’t a surprise. I’ve always been an All or Nothing girl. When I make decisions, I usually make them loudly. When I laugh, you can hear me in Arkansas. And when I’m excited about something, everything seems bigger and brighter (my hair is only the tip of the crazy big excitement iceberg) and I want to move forward as fast as possible, making all the things happen, all at once.
I had 9 miles on my training schedule for last Sunday. But I also did some trail running the previous weekend. And I pushed myself a little too much, ran in trail shoes that were a little too small, and had a little too much fun to even think of being smart about how fast I was going on the downhills. Toward the end of the 10 mile run/hike (mostly hike, y’all, don’t panic), I was feeling everything acutely in my right hamstring. By Monday, my hips were a little sore. By Thursday, my entire lower body felt heavy. And when I tried to run 4 miles on Friday, I had to stop at 2 because my legs refused to go any further without serious complaint. Still, I was ready to push myself to 9 miles on Sunday. And the worst part of this is that I wasn’t concerned with injuring myself more; I was just worried I wouldn’t have fun. (Priorities. I am good at them.)
When I mentioned my pain to iWill, he wisely
insisted suggested I skip the 9 miler this week and focus on rest and recovery. I think I knew he was right because I agreed with nary an argument and felt a rush of relief. Then I walked 3 hilly miles on Sunday and he told me I was perhaps not understanding what ‘rest’ really means. Finally, I conceded to his logic and the pain in my leg.
I’ve barely moved in 48 hours. Aside from work, stretching, and normal everyday walking, I’ve been zero active. And my hamstring is starting to feel better, I think. After a couple more days, I’ll try out 4 miles and see how that feels. And hopefully, the time and rest I’m putting into my leg now will show next week, when I jump to 10 miles. This is not to say I’m totally comfortable with the rest. The half-marathon is in 26 days and I have exactly 26 days left on my training schedule. I feel antsy and panicked about the time I’m losing. But I’ll never make it to the half if I don’t listen to my body and give it the time it needs to recover.
Rest. It’s a ridiculous and very important component of training. And it’s also served as a good reminder. Take a break from ALL THE CAPS LOCK and be grateful for what is happening in my life right now. Instead of being scared of the changes coming in my career/finances, breathe through and look for new opportunities. Instead of rushing to make all the good things I’m excited about happen faster and sooner and bigger than is wise, breathe through and enjoy the lots of tiny bits of really good that make me smile all day. And instead of running through the pain, breathe through the rest and remember why I love running in the first place. Use this time to dream of longer races, bigger races, on beautiful mountain trails. Rest and make plans, but be grateful for where I am today, right this minute, present to life.
But I’m totally kicking 10 miles of ASS next week, y’all. Believe it.