Friday, July 6, 2012

This too shall pass

It has not been a good running week for me.  As in, the last run I did was a 12-mile run last Sunday.  I have not done any running since then.  This is for a number of reasons:
  1. My hip and knee injuries refuse to die without a vengeance
  2. It's been ghastly hot this entire week (temps in the 100s)
  3. Mentally, I've lost a step (or quite literally, several thousand steps since I'm not running)
Going back to last Sunday's run: Since the temperatures have been so unbearably hot, I knew I needed to hit the road as early as humanly possible.  Therefore, I went to bed at 9:00 PM last Saturday night so that I could get up at 5:30 AM this past Sunday to run. 

(Yeah, I know, way to tear it up on a summertime weekend with a 9:00 PM bedtime.  Incidentally, I saw many revellers from the LATE Bike Ride coming home from their all-night party just as I was headed out that morning.  Reminded me of when I was an RA back in college and responsibility was the name of the game.)

Party on, Wayne.  Party on, Garth.

I had done 12 miles the weekend before and found it relatively challenging, so I was looking forward to last Sunday's 12-miler feeling easier.  Not the case.  It was so stiflingly hot and humid even at 6 AM that my only focus throughout the entire 12 miles became to run in whatever shaded patches of sidewalk I could.  While I did finish without major issue, it was certainly not one of my more enjoyable runs.

Fast forward to today.  I haven't been able to get back on track ever since last Sunday's run.

Up until this week I had been joyously celebrating a few weeks of pain-free knee movement.  However, much to my horror, some knee discomfort has seemingly begun springing back to life.  My left hip flexor is also stubbornly acting up again.  I have been diligently doing my PT stretches/exercises, some of them twice a day, in the hopes that it will help to calm things down.  Unfortunately no avail just yet.

If my injuries were a cartoon character, this is what they'd look like.
To quote Daffy Duck himself, "You're dithpicable!"

Injury reoccurrences aside, I know that after miserable runs, sometimes the toughest challenge is to just get back out there and try again.  Unfortunately the hot weather has made it downright dangerous to get back out there.  I despise treadmills, so I've been using the stationary bike and doing yoga indoors.  I know that cross-training and stretching are still valuable, but it's been frustrating not being able to pull myself over that hump yet.

The bigger issue is this: As the hot temps persist and more non-running days pile up, I am feeling both my momentum and my confidence dwindling.  I've become skittish and I am apprehensive about putting myself through more long, painful runs.  A few weeks ago, I was thinking that the 16-, 18-, and 20-mile training runs on the plan weren't really going to be that bad - but suddenly, the mileage seems insurmountable.  And I'm hating how this all feels.

For now, the focus is just on trying to stay positive.  Admittedly it has been really tough, though.  I'm trying to remind myself, rather profoundly, that the only constant in life is change.  So as frustrated as I've been, I keep telling myself it will eventually change. 

What has helped a little more is that I've got some fun stuff coming up over the next week.  To name just a few things, I'll be running and brunching (run-brunching?) with Erin, visiting Katie, and checking out Blackhawks prospect camp.  I'm also running the Strike Out ALS 5K next Tuesday, which will be very enjoyable and logistically easy.  So I'm trying to pump myself up by looking forward to these things.

From a motivational standpoint, some folks have suggested giving yourself a small reward for completing tough runs or races.  One of my few girly-girl indulgences is nail polish, and I had a gift certificate sitting around.  So yesterday, with this "self-reward" idealism in mind, I proceeded to immediately blow the gift certificate on a few bottles of nail polish.  These will be my carrot for getting through some future grueling runs.  I will wait to open them only after I have "earned" them.  Hey, whatever works, right?

These boots are made for running...

In the meantime, while I wait for the temperatures to drop back down to normal, for my nagging injuries to calm down again, and for my motivational mindset to improve, I will live my life with military precision.


  1. You know I feel you on the whole nagging injuries thing. Shall we compare PT exercises on Sunday?

    Training for a fall marathon is rough and Mother Nature is not making it any easier. I hope the heat really and truly lets up next week and you can get some of your confidence back!

    1. Thanks so much, Erin. I know you completely understand the nagging injuries thing - aren't they the worst? I would LOVE to compare PT exercises - at this point I'm ready to do any exercise that might help in any way!

      I'm looking forward to run-brunching with you this Sunday!!!

  2. I hope we get to see the nail polishes. I LOVE nail polish.

    Comparatively to your past knee/hip pain, how is it now? Do you think you didn't take long enough of a break?

    Don't feel discouraged! When I ran Chicago in 2010, I only started trianing (from 0) in the beginning of July. You can still do this. You have time!!!

    1. Isn't nail polish awesome? I'll show you the nail polishes in person the next time we get together. =D

      Thankfully my current knee/hip pain is much better than it used to be. But it still unnerves me that it is starting to come back because it is indeed making me fear that I haven't rested/rehabbed enough. =(

      Thank you for sharing your training experience and reminding me that there is still lots of time, that really does help!!! (Sadly, I have a friend who has run like 5 marathons, and each time she never ran more than 13 miles in training beforehand. I'd be too scared to do that!)

  3. Love the nail polish. I do a similar thing too and strangely nail polish always seems to make me happy :)

    Boo to those nagging injuries. My hip flexor is still achy over 7 months past the initial strain. I got a massage this week and the therapist actually dug into my hip a lot and it was sooooo painful at the time, but now my hip seems to be much better. I am sure with all of your exercises and stretches, you will overcome these annoyances. It unfortunately takes too much time sometimes :(

    You still have nearly 3 months until Chicago, which is plenty of time to get some good miles in. Perhaps a much shorter training plan is what you and your body need to be healthy for October 7. :)

    1. Nail polish is one of those great discoveries of womankind. It works in mysterious ways!!!

      So sorry to hear that your hip flexor is still achy 7 months later. I feel your pain, literally and figuratively, with the nagging injury as well as with the muscle massage! My PT does intense massage on my hip, too, which always hurts like crazy at the time but then feels better afterward. I guess in these cases it's true what they say about "no pain, no gain."

      Thank you for being so supportive and understanding! Thanks also for the reminder that Chicago is still 3 months away. It feels like it's much sooner than that, so the reminder that there's still a lot of time is REALLY helpful!!!!!