I keep going back and forth on subjects to blog about. One day, I’ll be convinced I’m never going to run fast again and then want to vent all my boo-hoo frustrations to the internet. Other days, I’m so gracious to have (most of) my health back and to be capable of running at all that I want to shout tear-filled gratitude from the rooftops.
Basically, I’m in a state of limbo; wavering between discouragement and encouragement, frustration and optimism.
However, no matter what mood I may fall into on a certain day, there is one thing that’s undeniable when it comes to both my fitness and my health: there’s progress being made.
I got a good slap-in-the-face of reality the other day. After a very slow, very not-enjoyable short run, I felt completely out of sorts. How was I ever going to break free from my out-of-shape shackles? As I was throwing this pity party, it suddenly dawned on me that it had been one month since I started running again. One little tiny month.
Get it together Robyn!
One month ago, I was slogging out 2 miles on Christmas Eve, after just starting to feel better from my horrible flare up. Just over month ago, I couldn’t even muster up the energy to get off the couch, let alone exercise at all.
Needless to say, I was a little humbled that I had the audacity to call into question my current fitness level. Of course it’s hard, of course it’s slow. There’s really no reason it shouldn’t be. But, the mere fact that I am out there and am able to jot something in my log book is a bit of a miracle.
I admit, nothing motivates me more than speed gains, so it’s tough for me to go from running a PR in the half marathon to running slower than I ever have in my life. But that’s the way running (and life) work sometimes; we progress and we regress. And after too much regression over the past few months, ultimately I’m going to try and be glad for any progress that comes my way.
Here is some running progress that’s happened since I disclosed my plan for getting to the Boston starting line:
-I’ve been running 3-ish times a week, and I’ve done two “long runs” in the past two weeks. They weren’t pretty or effortless, but they’re stepping stones to getting my head back into regular running mode. I’m going to try another long run this weekend, and hopefully by the time I’ll need to log some big miles, my endurance will have returned some.
-I haven’t been wearing a watch or a Garmin at all, which is very very intentional. I wore a stopwatch for a little while when I first started back up, but I’m too hard on myself when it comes to speed that I realized the surest way to make my runs a little more enjoyable was to ditch the numbers. I have a pretty good sense of pace, so I know I’m slow (for me), but the other day a glimpse of running magic happened:
I was out on a run in the early morning and I saw BF coming my way on the other side of the street, on his own run. He was about the turn around, so on the way back I started to see him coming out of the corner of my eye. He was still on the other side of the street, so there wasn’t any communication, but with about a 1/2 mile til home — we both started to pick up the pace. No eye contact, no gestures, we both just channeled our mutual competitive natures. I kept picking up speed, as I was certain he was going to jet by me at any moment. But we stayed neck-in-neck, and somehow I was able to keep going faster and faster. I was able to outstride him as we got to the front door, and despite feeling completely winded, I was elated. It was the first time I experienced speed of any kind in so long, and it felt positively wonderful. BF, who was using his phone to track the run, said that our little non-race/race at the end had clocked in at a 7:05 pace, which made me smile for the rest of the day.
I’ve come nowhere near that speed since, but the memory of the feeling and the knowledge that the potential is out there gives me a lot of comfort.
-I’m doing any and all kinds of recovery tricks, and they seem to be working. I stopped going to PT when I was really sick, but I’ve tried to keep doing the rehab exercises I learned to help continue to heal my janky IT band. It’s not 100%, but with each strengthening session it’s feeling better and better. I also got a sports massage last week which was incredibly helpful. It hurt, and I was bruised afterwards, but I could definitely feel the effects of having someone really dig into my tough spots. It was so good that I’m going back again tomorrow, and hopefully after one or two more sessions my lingering tightness will subside. The gal I go to can do 1/2 hour sessions, which is really nice for time management and my wallet.
So in terms of running—progress is definitely being made. I can feel the muscle memory coming back, and it’s encouraging to know that while I might not feel my best right now, running is a routine my body is ultimately very familiar with. The best metaphor I can come up with is that I feel like Forrest Gump when he has the leg braces on his legs and he’s trying to run away; the braces are there for a purpose, but eventually he’s able to outgrow and break free of them. So here’s hoping I’ll be breaking free of my current struggles sooner rather than later.
(I am not, in any way, trying to equate being out-of-shape to having actual disabilities. Please do not read that metaphor literally at all.)
Finally, the biggest progress that’s happened has been the return of my health. I’ve made some leaps and bounds in the last month, and I’m so very grateful that my body has bounced back so well. I went to my GI doctor for the first time since I was sick this week so she could look at my labs that were, you might remember, “terrible” when she last checked them. The morning after I got the bloodwork done, I had an email from her that said:
“Your labs all look perfect. This is a dramatic improvement.”
I was ecstatic—and doing way too many imaginary first bumps in my head while sitting at work. While physically I feel so much better, it was so reassuring to know that the science behind it all was showing the same thing. Again, I’m not 100%, but compared to how I felt before, I might as well be. My doctor is confident that the medication I’m on will continue to have bettering effects over the next few weeks.
So despite my occasional belly-aching about being slow and my actual belly-aching from Crohn’s, progress is definitely being made. I am ultimately so thankful to be sitting in a different place than I was just one short month ago, and I can only hope things continue this way. Admittedly, after injury and illness, it’s hard not to be scared of another road block popping up. Which it might. But until then, I’m going to do everything I can to keep getting stronger and pressing forward.
Progress feels good, and no matter how long it may take, it feels like I’m moving in the right direction.