I don’t know how long I’m allowed to talk about “coming back from injury,” but here we are, talking about it again. Of course, this cause is helped by the fact that I haven’t been blogging that often – there’s not much to write about when you’re only running for 3-4 miles at a time. Not knocking these shorter distances, but I can hardly feel warmed up and in the zone by the time I’m done, soooooo not too thrilling.
Getting back into running after taking time off is hard. Not only because I missed running so much, but I miss how easy running was! My last big run before getting hurt was 18 miles. It wasn’t the best run of my life, but I ran 18 miles at sub-8 pace in some chilly temperatures – certainly an effort I’m proud of. Although I’ve been telling myself to take it easy and not push myself on these shorter runs, I’m also swallowing a bit of my pride and saying that an 8:30 pace isn’t exactly the easiest for me right now. Hard? No, I wouldn’t say that. It would be more difficult to hold an eight minute pace. But I’ve spent a fair amount of my running life dancing around at 8:30 pace, not necessarily concentrating to move forward. It’s a bit of blow to my ego, but it also reminds me to appreciate what my body can do when it’s working properly.
And about that “working properly” thing. I won’t say that my hip/groin area feels 100%, as it does not. It doesn’t “hurt” per se. It’s definitely cranky in the morning and doesn’t feel that great when I walk to work in the morning. I don’t notice it at work at all – not sure if that’s a shoe issue (I walk to work in running shoes and then change into my Danskos at work) or just me being busy at work so I don’t notice it. Sometimes I feel something “off” when I walk home from work, but definitely not as bad in the morning.
For my running routine, I’m becoming much more high maintenance. Ever since my high school years when summer running started at 6am, I’ve been able to basically roll out of bed and go. Even when I started adding the distance, I basically wake up, eat, digest a bit, and go. No stretching or warm up exercises here! Perhaps that added to why I got injured, perhaps I’m just getting older and need a little more fine tuning. I do a routine of front, side, back/side, and back lunges, some with twists. I also do some squats and single leg squats. The best way for me to replicate the groin pain when I was having it was to do a single leg squat and then transfer weight to my right leg – which is basically what running is, right? A series of single leg squats then transferring weight? It’s kind of my gauge to see how I’m doing. (Please note: I stopped doing that single leg squats when I was having a lot of pain – I was just testing!)
Once those are done, I do some leg swings (front and back, side to side) to further warm up the hips. Then I head outside and start walking. I don’t think I’ve ever done a walking warm up in my life (oops?), but now I walk about 5-10 minutes before I start running. Mainly, this gets me to either Central Park or Riverside Park, so I don’t have to do the start-stop with running. Additionally, it gets me down the big hill that I need to go down to get by the Hudson River…I don’t imagine that starting to pound downhill would be good for my elderly joints, so I walk down to the flat ground. Gotta be kind to my body these days!
As I mentioned above, I’ve also been keeping the mileage low and plan on a slow build up. My longer-ish runs have looked like this over the past few weeks:
- 4 miles
- 4.5 miles
- 5 miles
- 6 miles
Getting crazy over here, I know! I do believe that one of the causes of my injury was building my mileage way too fast. I was in a hurry to get into tiptop shape for Eugene, and I built my mileage without having much of a base. I could get through the miles, but it obviously wasn’t good for the long haul. As I’ve said to every doctor I’ve ever been to about running related injuries, I’m not in this just to run my next marathon, I’m in this for life. Luckily, I don’t have any pain while running, which I consider to be a good gauge as to what I’m doing. I don’t know why my groin bothers me while walking and not while running, but I’m just going with it for now. My gait feels normal, which it definitely didn’t before I took my running break. All good signs.
Since I still like to break a sweat, especially for more than 30 minutes at a time, I’ve been adding in some other workouts to my routine. I’ve heard a lot about Beachbody products, and a bunch of nurses at work are doing the 21 Day Fix. I ended up buying the program for the workouts. I liked that there was a variety of workouts ranging from weights (total body, upper body, lower body) to pilates to yoga. Coming in at about 30 minutes each, the timing is great since I don’t necessarily want an hour workout on top of running. (Or I’m lazy, who knows.) I also did a Piyo workout (I think it was called “Sweat”) on Friday after my running, and not only was I sweating, but my shoulders were definitely sore this morning. I’ve been thinking about buying Piyo because I know I need some stretching in my life, especially as I build my mileage. I feel like the weights are great too – strong muscles not only power you through a run, but they also help provide support and stabilization. Yes, please, to both of those. (If you have experience with either of these programs, please let me know! Also – any other classes/workouts? I admit I like the videos because I pay once and I’m done versus paying $35/class for these NYC classes…)
Back to running! My first “long” run aka need to count on two hands run was this morning. Six miles! Woohoo! I did the entire routine mentioned above, heading to the Hudson River Path. I’ve been running north a lot, so I decided to head south. Keep it easy, that’s the name of the game. I told myself to hang around 8:30 pace – not that I could blaze at 7:45, but I often need to remind myself to not push myself just because of the numbers on my watch. My first mile clicked off at 8:38…alright, we’re doing this. Admittedly, I spent a bunch of time staring at my watch to make sure my pace was okay. I’m not quite ready to just go and run by feel because I’m not exactly sure what these paces feel like (read: I’m out of shape), but I like the feedback from my watch. Other things I appreciate: It was 70 degrees this morning, not 85 and crazy humid like it has been. That helps.
After three miles out, I turned around to head back. Fairly unexciting as far as runs go, and although I pondered a walk break, my plan was to keep the pace even and easy and make it all the way back. A few red lights on the path led me to stop for a few seconds, but nothing major. As I ran back north past the Intrepid (aircraft carrier in the water around 42nd St), I noticed huge clouds of smoke ahead. Not sure what it was, I kept heading north. Once I got past about 50th St, it was clear that the clouds were coming from a building along the water/riverside. I got up into the 60’s, and black BLACK smoke was billowing from a building. You could smell it in the air and I spotted a few flecks of burned things floating in the air. People on foot and on bikes were stopped along the path, staring at the building. FDNY was already present with a couple ladders placed up the building. After awhile, it looked like the fire was on a terrace – flames could be seen along with all the smoke. I waited around for a few minutes with the crowd, and by the time I left the river side, FDNY had put out the flames. (Thank you, FDNY!) News reports say that either no one or one person was injured (hopefully no one). Report/video/pictures here.
I finished my run – I had less than a mile to go before my break to see the fire, then I did a walking cool down and some stretches at home. Eric and I then headed to brunch, which is always a great way to cap off a “long” run. Right? Right. Not that I need to refuel from six miles, but that’s not important.
Saturday, June 27 – 6.02 miles in 50:35, avg pace of 8:24
Not so shabby. I’m still adjusting to this new normal routine – I’ve always known that I should add in more warm-ups/stretching/strengthening, but I’ve always been able to get by without it. Running has never felt like work to me, while all the other stuff does – but as I tell Eric often, sometimes you have to do things like you don’t to get the things you want. And I want to run (always), so I’ll have to fit in the other exercises. It’ll be worth it in the end to hopefully keep injuries at bay.
News on what I’m training for will be coming soon – but in the meantime, I’ll take your tips for keeping injuries away!