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A Slow Return

This morning I ran four miles at about a 10:30 pace. It was not easy, and I did feel some residual pain (not from the calf injury, but from shin splints), but it's four miles I couldn't run a month ago. I'm grateful for that.

I actually started back running several weeks ago, after a nine-week break, and I had about three successful four-to-five-mile runs, and then on my next run I felt pain in my left leg and thought it was my calf injury letting me know it was still there. I was pretty disappointed about that, but then when I was telling a friend about the pain, and how it was a little different than what I'd experienced before, he said it sounded like shin splints. Now, I'm no stranger to shin splints, as I'd trained through them for the Chicago Marathon, but it simply hadn't occurred to me that I was feeling something new; my mind just went straight the injury. And because the soleus muscle (which I'd injured) is really close to the tendon where shin splints are felt, and it was only in my injured leg, I just assumed it was the soleus again. So I rejoiced in discovering that I actually had shin-splints instead of a recurrence of my injury. Then I remembered how awful that pain was, even if it wasn't as dangerous as the calf injury. So I've basically still been taking things easy lately, able to run a little, but not willing to push too much because of the pain. And I know I've lost a good amount of strength--one day of weight training at the gym verified that.

The past month or so has also been difficult physically for several reasons. First, I was still struggling to come back to running; second, I had a sinus cold that took several weeks to go away, preventing me from even doing yoga (because lying down made the mucus drip down my throat, causing me to cough violently--TMI?); and third, I had bruised my ribs on a trail riding adventure. So I did a lot of walking when I could, and when I couldn't, I allowed myself to rest. Resting was something that took all of my time away from training to come around to. I realized that I wasn't comfortable resting; I didn't know how to do it very well. I admit that part of this struggle was diet-related; that is, I was afraid I wouldn't be able to reduce my calorie intake appropriately for the training I was no longer doing. But while I struggled with this initially during my break, I think I made real progress in learning to eat mindfully and for a less active body. It's a surprisingly difficult thing to do.

But now I'm back. Or at least, I'm getting there. I'm not entirely sure which activities I want to move forward with; obviously I want to run, but beyond that, I have wondered if the CrossBoot classes I became so hardcore about were too much for my body or my goals. I'm actually terrified of going back, mostly because of how much strength I've lost and how difficult I know it will be, but also because I don't want to become obsessive about any type of exercise I do. I think I began to get a little obsessed around the time of my injury. I definitely want to continue with yoga, which has been a savior to me during my healing process. I've come back to the Ashtanga practice that I'd once done regularly and then sort of abandoned, and I'm happy to be doing it again. I really love biking, but I don't see myself making significant gains in road-biking. I love my road bike, but I don't use it to its potential, and I'm not certain whether I want to keep it or perhaps sell it and get a mountain bike :) I continue to ride my easy, trusty cruiser for commuting around town on the weekends, and that brings me great pleasure.

I'm sure I'll figure more of this out in the coming weeks. I want to run the Gasparilla half marathon on February 24, so I'll need to come up with an appropriate training plan for where I am right now, which may not mean a PR like I'd hoped. But that's okay. Everything will be okay, I've learned.

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