Sunday, December 26, 2010

First Outdoor Run Following my Stress Fracture

Running again is so sweet!

The last time I saw my doc my foot was still sore and I had felt another pop. His suggestion was to continue with walking and going to the gym, but no running for another 6-8 weeks. I tried, I really did, but once I had gone a couple of weeks with no pain I had to try running. I was smart at least, I started on the treadmill so I could stop instantly and it wasn’t such a hard surface. First I ran ¼ mile, then ½, then one whole mile. Each attempt was followed by a day of rest and if my foot started to hurt I would back off. So far so good, next run 1.5, then 2 and finally 3. Once I could run 3 miles on the treadmill with increasing speed in small increments up to 7 mph, I decided to give the road a try.

It was a beautiful day. Following a long stretch of cold weather, the clear sunny day of 41F felt deliciously warm. I had been running in Vibram Five Fingers on the treadmill, or in socks, but I decided it was warm enough for a short barefoot run. We have a nice .75 mile rubber track on our base that is black so it soaks up the sun nicely. Being the wimp that I am, it would have been too cold to run far on asphalt or cement, but the rubber track was only cold in a few places where it was shaded or damp. To stay close to the gym and on the rubber track, I ran 2 out and backs for a total of 3 miles. It was utterly fantastic! Feeling the ground under my feet and the sun on my face was like coming out of a dark depression. I didn’t wear sunglasses, just let the beautiful rays stream into my eyes to lift my spirits and buoy my steps. I made sure I didn’t push my speed and stayed at a conversational pace so I was really surprised to find I had averaged 10 minute miles! I was thrilled to know all my gym time has paid off and have not lost too much ground. I felt strong and rested and flew over the ground like I hadn’t missed a day! It was really hard to stop at 3 miles, but I think I would lose my mind if I had to wait months to run again so the fear of reinjury kept me in check. Even worse what that the following day the temps were even warmer, but I knew my foot was not ready for running 2 days in a row and so I forced myself to wait.

After a day off, I only ran a very slow mile on the treadmill to warm up before doing a grand tour of the Nautilus machines. When I first explored the weight room here at Osan, I hadn’t lifted weights in longer than I care to admit so I was really struggling that first day. However, the weights have been my big stress relief. Lifting replaced running as a way to take out anger and frustration. That first day, I wrote down how much I could lift for three sets of 8-10 reps. Today, I brought that list with me to see how far I have come in the last few months. I was amazed to see that I have nearly doubled the weight on almost all of the machines! Granted, there was one that I couldn’t even use at first because my elbow would lock up painfully, but now I can push 40 lbs! I’m not going to win any contests, and the weights I’m lifting are still pretty pathetic, but improvement is improvement!

I still do not feel totally back in the game. It will take me at least a couple of months to get back to full speed and mileage, but I know I will get there and that I have picked up some new healthy habits to add to my routine. Weights will stay on my workout list, as will spin and my friend, the step mill. It really isn’t healthy to put on blinders and focus solely on one sport or form of exercise. Our bodies need variety as much as our brains. Now, to plan my next race!