Over a year ago I started running. For a while I kept the routes short, only about a mile or so, not trying to pace or push myself too much. Then, in November, the plateau shattered and I was going for three, four, even six mile runs, averaging a ten minute/mile pace. In December I ran my first 5k through a foggy and sleeting course in Oshkosh. As I discussed in a previous intro post to running, this breakthrough seemed to open up a whole new realm of possibilities. Could I run a 10k? What about a half-marathon, or even a full marathon?
The answer was yes. Running last winter was tough, slipping and sliding on unshoveled sidewalks and crashing through icy puddles, but I kept at it. By the summer I was regularly running thirty miles a week, usually including one or two ten-plus mile routes and plenty of short, fast loops. I was on a roll to run a half-marathon this fall in under two miles.
Sure, I 'ran' into a number of hurdles. I had to upgrade my shoes (my old pair were over four years old) and deal with issues like nipple chafing (yes, it is as glamorous as it sounds). To keep my energy up I started drinking plenty of smoothies - a fruity energetic one before a run, a recovery blend after a run, and the occasional nighttime smoothie because why not. A twelve-mile run became a three-hour commitment: drink a smoothie, two hours of running, then a cool down. Of course, having a newborn on top of this was tough, though Katie was pretty awesome about letting me go out and exercise (usually when Noah was sleeping).
When the injuries started I tried to power through them, in a typical stubborn military manner. My knees started to hurt first, the old injuries coming around to haunt me, so I wore knee braces and kept running. Then I pulled my arch, so I hobbled through the runs. The blisters became worse, unsetting the balanced footfall, and the ball of my left foot got bruised. By the time my metatarsal (the top of my foot) began to shoot pain up my ankle I got the hint. This wasn't working out.
The injuries have been incredibly frustrating. I was running farther and (relatively) faster than I had ever done before and I felt like my body was rebelling against me. When you push farther you're supposed to go farther, not get hurt. So I stopped running.
A friend of mine suggested cross-training, picking up a bike or trying to work out in a different way. While I've been hesitant to start up at a gym this may be a good reason to, to have a pool to swim in and equipment to rotate through. Sure, if I stuck with generic running I could really focus on my pace and not get distracted by other routines but that isn't working. Maybe going to a gym three to four times a week coupled with one or two runs is a better way to work towards that marathon time. For the immediate future, though, I think I'll let my legs rest.