Sunday, August 15, 2010

A Return To Running

The first part of this post is a precursor to what happened Saturday morning.
So I sorta jogged on the treadmill on Thursday morning. After a 20 minute warm up on the elliptical machine, I got up on the treadmill and set the speed to 4 MPH because I read Amby Burfoot’s blog in last week about his return to running from knee surgery. In it, he mentioned that it was indeed possible to run that slow on the treadmill. I’ve mentioned in another post before that I thought that treadmill speed does not seem to dictate what you are able to run on pavement. Like for example the 15 minutes per mile that I did on the treadmill Thursday felt like 11 minutes per mile on the street. However, the pace was so slow that I was even able to read the newspaper while jogging, which was okay with me because it kept me distracted from the amount of time I was doing it. In the end, I was able to complete 45 minutes which was indeed a pleasant surprise.
 Another thing I tried was eliminating the use of orthotics and just use my shoes which are already built for motion control. It didn’t seem to make any difference in the ankle pains that I’ve been having. It doesn’t hurt any more or any less, so that was also a surprise because I thought my feet would have lesser support.
 If I keep the pace steady and resist the temptation to run hard when my breathing feels good, there might be a possibility that I could run short distances once or twice a week. It would be a good break from my usual stationary exercises and bike rides. After all, one of the tricks to make your body to burn more calories by revving up metabolism is by varying your exercise routine. If I can do that, then I should learn to accept that it should be enough and not do long or hard runs any more. Running a little is after all better than not being able to run at all.
After the treadmill run, I walked barefoot indoors all day in hopes that it might help strengthen my foot muscles and tendons. I even ventured outside to the garage and the mailbox but the pavement was so hot, my feet felt like they were on fire. I hope I don’t develop blisters.
This brings us to Saturday morning. Until this past week I had not run for six weeks due to my ankle tendon pains and I thought I may never run again if the left ankle didn’t heal. The right ankle? Well I’ve given that up as permanently damaged. I wanted so badly to join my running club in their training the past two weekends even just to walk but I got so used to sleeping till 7 a.m. that I’ve gotten lazy and didn’t want to set my alarm to 5 a.m. But I did anyway and showed up for the Saturday morning run. The half marathoners were doing 9 miles and the full marathoners were doing 16 miles. No way was I going to be able to do those distances, so my plan was to run/walk for 6 miles since I was just starting over. Before we started running, I was able to catch up with a few friends about the goings on of the past several weeks that I’ve missed. There were no expectations on my part on this day, so if I ended up at the back of the pack or even dead last, I didn’t mind. So off we go and I started out as slowly as I can, resisted skipping the one minute walk break after each four minute run, went past the six mile turnaround point without complications, reached Donna’s water station at the corner of 6th and Orlena Streets, went up the hill and didn’t come tumbling down to break my crown, and kept going because I always had the option of cutting the course or walking to the finish. I did neither and when I reached Deb’s water station, I figured I might be able to finish at least 8 miles if not the full 9. My legs felt heavy in the last mile but somehow my long-dormant muscle memory kicked in and propelled me to the finish. Even though my ankles were sore afterwards, it felt like a manageable type of pain. What a heady feeling it was to be back in the game! And I wasn’t even the last runner to finish! Nine miles may have been too much after a six week layoff, but such is the advantage of being in the company of like-minded people. You just can’t help but join them in their journey to the finish line.
Back in the grind and back in the pictures.

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