Tag Archives: injuries

Decision Time

Well folks, after much deliberation…I’ve made a final decision:

This Sunday, I will be running the Chicago Marathon.

I’ve thought a lot about this decision, I’ve asked a lot of people their advice, and I’ve done a lot of internet perusing to find “the right answer” as to what I should do.

And I realized a couple of things, but namely…there really isn’t a right answer in this scenario. Some people are willing to run on anything that isn’t a stress fracture, and some people stay away for just the sniffles. There were a number of different pros and cons for me to consider, both big and small. And in the end—despite all the opinions, the research, and the back-and-forth, I knew it had to be my decision—not anyone else’s.

And guess what? With a little help from rest, meds, and wishful thinking, I’m healthy enough to run the race—and I’m gonna try.

But let’s rewind a bit, and I’ll catch you up to speed as to where I currently stands in regard to this race:

1 month ago, I had to stop short on a 20 mile run from horrible ankle pain. I was limping for days, icing like crazy, and popping more pain killers than I ever have before. The doctor was nonchalant about it and told me it was just bad tendonitis, but I was still not thinking the worst. In the back of my head, my hopes of a stellar Chicago Marathon were getting shrouded away, seemingly all at once.

1 week after the initial injury struck, I tried running for the first time—to no avail. I couldn’t make it 1/4 mile without my ankle blowing up like a balloon. I limped very slowly the whole way home, holding back tears, and continued to lower my self-proclaimed likelihood of running the race.

A little over a week ago, I went back to the doctor. This time, I was prescribed some actual, real deal pain killers. He told me that if I felt up for it—he would give the green light to run the race. Once again, I tried to run…this time, I made it 6 miles. They weren’t pain free, but I got them out, and it seemed that my ankle was getting better.

Last week, I was able to do the aforementioned 6 mile run, an 8.5 mile run, and a 7.5 mile run. Each felt better than the one before, and my ankle pain was getting to be less and less each time I headed out. After two weeks of discouragement, Chicago was back on the table.

This past weekend was the weekend I proclaimed to be “decision time.” I knew I didn’t want to even make the trip if I wasn’t going to run the race, therefore I needed to make the call one way or the other ahead of time. I set out on my previously planned 12 mile run, deciding that if I made it relatively pain free—I was gonna race.

12 miles later, and…well shit, I’m running a marathon next weekend.

I ran the 12 miles with very little ankle irritation. In fact, there wasn’t even a glimmer of the injury for probably 75% of the run. This was indeed very encouraging…and although I know 26 miles is many more than 12, the rate at which my injury seems to be recovering makes me think that I will be able to spend most of the race relatively pain-free.

However, while my ankle may be mostly cooperative…taking two weeks off completely from running took it’s toll, and admittedly I am mostly worried now about the condition of my legs more than anything else.

I’m not gonna lie…those 12 miles were tough. My lungs felt good, my ankle even felt good, but my legs felt tired. This could have been just an average “bad run,” but I know I’m also feeling the rusty effects of not having run long in a while. I was concerned with just how tired I felt after 12 miles, and it made a marathon seem even more daunting than, well, a marathon already is.

But, the fact of the matter is that if I wasn’t going to run this race…it wasn’t going to be because of some tired legs. It was because of an injury…an injury which seems to be on its way out the door. I feel like I have to try, and while this might be the most difficult marathon I’ve ever attempted, I don’t want to go down without a fight.

Frankly, I’m really nervous for the race. I’m scared of not finishing. I’m scared for the pain. And perhaps more than anything, I don’t like the uncertainty. While of course I was anxious for my first two marathons, I was always very confident in my ability to finish. This setback has left me in a much less confident state in my running—and while I know I haven’t lost all of the training I built up, I’m definitely not in ideal marathon shape.

However, these fears and apprehension aren’t enough to keep me from the start line. I’m truthfully very excited and grateful that I will still get the chance to be in and at the race. This is one of the biggest races in the world, I’ve trained hard to get to it, I’ve raised a lot of money for a great cause, and I’ll be damned if I don’t get out there and try.

So get ready kids, this will be interesting.

 

What would you do?

What a difference a week can make.

Last Saturday, I spent the morning running 1/4 mile, failing, and then crying about it while simultaneously trying to swim. Not a pretty picture.

Fast forward to yesterday. After having not one but two spin classes cancelled on me, and after plodding up and down on the stair-stepper for a while…I decided to see how my ankle would hold up on a run.

I was nervous, I had ridiculously low expectations, and I had to mentally prepare myself for the fact that it may be a huge fail.

So after my morning gym session, I went home, changed shoes, grabbed a handful of Cheerios, and drove down to my beloved Alki beach trail. Cautiously and hesitantly—off I went.

The way my “running” has been going for the past two weeks has been like this—a few steps of normalcy, a twinge of pain on both sides of my ankle, followed by my ankle swelling so much I have no range of motion.

But yesterday? Oh, dear sweet yesterday…I was able to run. I’m not saying it was without pain, and I’m not saying it was flawless, but it happened and I finished with a stupid smile on my face and heightened hope for the possibility of the Chicago Marathon actually happening. I finished with a total of 6 miles, and while my ankle definitely felt it—a session of ice and an anti-inflammatories afterwards, I was good to go.

So encouraging…and you better believe I rode out my 6-mile-runner’s-high all day long.

So what now? Admittedly, I still am not 100% sure what to do about Chicago. My doctor gave me the go-ahead to try, and as he said, “The worst thing that can happen is that you won’t finish.” He said that doing the race would more than likely not make my ankle any worse—which I took with a grain of salt, but it was encouraging.

It’s really hard to figure out what to do from this point in terms of taper/testing my running/deciding if I should do the race. I want to continue to rest my ankle as much as I can, of course, but I also need to be sure that going to Chicago is going to be worth it. I certainly don’t want to DNF—but I would also like to know that if it happens, it would be around mile 18 as opposed to mile 7, you know?

So I need some advice…in terms of balancing taper and testing my ability to run…what would you do? My plan is to make the final call next Sunday, so I think I’ll go with my originally scheduled 12 easy miles on Saturday. If I feel like I can do that (and could keep going) I *think* I’ll go for it. 

Ahh this is such a weird/different approach to tapering. I am someone who operates with the mindset of, “You never know until you try,” but I also don’t want to fly all the way to Chicago to run less than half of the race.

We’ll see…but in the meantime, I would love any input you have on the matter!

Hope everyone had a great weekend!

 

Diagnosis and “Getting It”

The best news of all: my ankle is not falling off.

And, according to my X-Rays and my highly optimistic Ortho-doc, I have no signs of stress fracture, and my bone structure is “ideal.” Essentially, this was equivalent to hearing, “Robyn, you have perfect hair, teeth, and generally perfect everything in life.”

Good bones=happy runner.

To bring you up to speed, after many days in a row of running, peak marathon training mileage, and a very unhappy 20-miler-turned-17-miler, my ankle was in a lot of pain for no obvious reason. I was limping, I went to Urgent Care (fail), and I panicked about how I could actually pull off a marathon in a month.

Obviously, I wanted to call in a pro ASAP.

The diagnosis I received at my 9 am appointment yesterday morning went something like this:

“Suck it up. Load up on Aleve. Keep running. You’re a huge wimp and don’t understand that running is painful sometimes. Why are you here?”

Okay, it was *actually* closer to this (although the above is in essence what I heard):

“I think you’ll be fine. Get back out there, keep up the pain killers, heavy on the icing, and tell me if it gets worse.”

If you’re thinking, “Wow Robyn, that’s pretty much what every runner would want to hear in your scenario…so did you jump up and down in excitement and make out with the dude while lacing up your Brooks?”

No kissing or lacing up, but yes—you’re right. This is an ideal diagnosis. Particularly for someone like me, who would be grumpy with even the mention of “toning it down” or “taking it easy.”

However, while I am relieved—I’m also going to be a little more careful than Dr. “All Runners Love Me” told me to be.

You see, the reason I went to the doctor was to determine what this pain is not as opposed to what it is. Hopefully, the diagnosis was right and this isn’t something serious (i.e. stress fracture, etc.) BUT, that doesn’t mean that it’s not something to take care of.

With every little ache and pain, we runners spend so much time agonizing over, “What is this?” “When will it go away?” “Can I run through it?” I’m a HUGE culprit of doing this (perhaps THE culprit), no thanks to the magical powers of the interwebs, but here’s the fact of the matter:

If something hurts, you shouldn’t run on it.

I realize my circumstances are a bit different, considering I have 26.2 miles of running to do on October 7, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to try and be bigger than the pain. I’m fortunate enough to have done enough training that waiting out this issue a little while longer (yes, longer than even the “professional” said to do) won’t do much damage. In fact, continuing to run on my questionable ankle would probably undo the strides I’ve made so far in my training.

So I’m sitting it out for a little while longer. I’m definitely not going to pretend that I’m completely calm and collected about this, or that not running is anything but easy.

I’m back-and-forth between being sensible and being irrational. But, I’ve been here before—and I know that the truest test of an athlete’s will and determination are the times that set them back. So yesterday, when I was at work going back and forth as to what I would do for my workout later on, I stopped myself right in my tracks.

And here’s what I asked myself: Is delaying the healing process, which will ultimately get me to the start line in Chicago, for a random Tuesday sweat session worth it?

Absolutely not.

So, I defied my habitual inclination of working out my stress away, and here I am today—no less in shape, in tact, nor capable of living. I am, however, with a more rested and better-feeling ankle.

{See Mommy, I’m growing up.}

I’m realizing that the way we handle injury corresponds directly to the reasons we run in the first place.

The fact of the matter is this: I don’t run to hide my feelings. I don’t run to justify the things I like to eat. I don’t run to prove anything to anyone.

I run because it’s what I love to do more than anything else, and sometimes that love needs to be shown in the bad times and not just the good.

Run love is not just about logging miles, clocking lower times, and registering for races. Run love is also about give and take. We take a lot from this sport—the endorphins, the pride, the toned legs, and the runner’s highs. But how much do we give to it? We give our early mornings and cash in shoe replacment…but I’m realizing that giving back to this sport should be about respecting it—and our bodies—more than anything else.

Running is tough, running is hard, and running wears us down. In order to give to running as much as we get from it—sometimes we need to back off. We don’t prove anything by running through pain or by exercising when we know we should be resting. All those things do is show that we’d rather let this sport abuse us rather than build us up.

If you hadn’t guessed, the “we” pronoun I’ve been using is a lot of me talking to myself. You, dear reader, just got to come along for the ride.

So what is this very long-winded explanation of my injury trying to say? Well, I think for the first time—I’m getting it. I’m getting the give-and-take of running, I’m getting the “rest” thing, and I’m getting that the truest test of myself as a runner comes from how I handle the lower points.

So I’m taking it easy, I’m hoping for the best, and I’m thankful that I’ve *mostly* been able to learn something from my former habits that resulted in mistakes.

Chicago Marathon Training Week #9

Hello.

Here’s last week for you…let’s see if you can spot where the big scary hiccup occurred:

M: 9 m run slow

T: 10.2 m run ~8:15 avg. pace

W: 7 m run, no watch + lifting

T: 10.4 m run, 8:20 avg. pace

F: REST

S: 17 m run

S: Yoga

Total: 53.6 miles

Don’t see the hiccup? Well, allow me to backtrack to Thursday, where I said I had a “20 mile long run” on tap for the weekend.

That 17 miler up there? That right there was the first time I have ever cut a run short—and no, not because of fatigue, boredom, or a time crunch.

My would-be 20 mile run turned into 17 because I was in too much pain to finish it. That not-so-significant shin split I mentioned last week turned into a very-significant-holy-shit-hurts pain in my entire left ankle/foot pretty much all at once during my run on Saturday morning. I tried to tough it out, but after a few miles of stopping to alleviate the pain every mile—I knew it was best to cut it off. Thankfully a nice lady with a puppy let me use her phone when I asked (I choose the strangers I approach based on their pets, btw). She was probably a bit frightened by the sweaty, salty, and nearly-in-tears girl hobbling down the side walk—but she complied. Bless her.

As soon as BF picked me up, I lost it. I don’t really need to explain to you all the frustrations I was/am feeling about this. I was in Urgent Care yesterday morning after spending Saturday unable to walk, and I have an appointment with an orthopedic doctor tomorrow morning.

Nothing like prompt medical attention.

I’m trying to not jump to worst case conclusions right now (although I spent a lot of time already doing that). Many thanks to my best friend Anna, BF, and Nicole for calming me down a bit. BF has been a superstar through this also (I think he more than anyone knows how Robyn with Injury goes), and following Saturday’s breakdown he immediately helped remedy my sobbing by making me pancakes, attending to my every ice, Aleve, and compression needs, and accepted his tear-and-sweat stained girlfriend for who she was.

Now that the storm has passed, I’m going to let the pros decide how I should handle this situation.

Luckily, since whatever-this-is happened, my ankle has consistently felt better fairly, and it seems that the more I walk—the better it feels (indicative that it’s probably not a bone thing). But like I said.. I’ll be leaving my fate up to science and X-Rays and stuff.

So how am I feeling right now? Admittedly, hopeful—since it is feeling better and seems to continue to feel better. But, the speed in which this thing came on really scares me, and I’m really going to have a tough time swallowing a diagnosis that not only eliminates Chicago—but eliminates my Fall 2012 running career.

I’m feeling a lot of things right now— frustrated (3 injuries in 6 months—AWESOME), sad, pissed, pessimistic, optimistic, relieved, etc.

I’ll explain it all in another post—because I’m doing my best to not jump to conclusions (no thanks to Dr. Google) and allow no news to be good news. At least until tomorrow morning.

Will fill you all in soon.

Cross your fingers, wish upon a star, and break some wishbones (yikes, no pun intended) for me that this isn’t the worst. I’ve really been very careful in terms of training, resting, and mileage—and I’m more than a little bothered right now with where my bff running has landed me.

Getting Fixed?

In lieu of any suspense-filled build up, I’m just going to get straight to this point.

This happened yesterday:

Now, I know what you are probably thinking…because I was/am still thinking the same thing.

“Um Robyn, haven’t you, like, not run at all since the Tacoma Marathon and been complaining incessantly about your injured IT band?”

Yes and yes. Let’s back track a bit though, and perhaps this will make more sense.

I had come to terms with the whole “injury” thing, and I’d accepted that I needed to focus on r&r as opposed to long runs and fartleks. Kidding, I never do fartleks.

However, despite the fact that I was getting over my boohoo, “woe is me” phase of being injured, that didn’t mean that I wasn’t still on the lookout for anything that could help me start running again.

Which brings me to Friday afternuun. I was in need of some Nuun and went to West Seattle Runner to pick up some new bottles. Also, strawberry lemonade *might* be a new favorite.

While there, I happened to see this little gizmo hanging on the wall with all the other braces and such:

Now, if you’re sitting there with one eyebrow raised full of skepticism, trust me—I was right there with you. I asked the guy working what was up with this thing, and he didn’t say much about it other than, “A guy bought one for his knee pain and he never came back, so that’s good?”

Right. I was mainly skeptical because a) this was perhaps the least technical thing I’d ever seen, and b) in the nonstop research I’d been doing on healing IT band injuries, I’d NEVER seen anyone mention these.

However, thanks to return policies, I decided why not—I’d give it a go. I definitely wasn’t optimistic, but I figured $16 for a velcro strap was worth trying before building up some lovely PT bills. I decided to check online to see if anyone at all had any success with this thing, and much to my surprise—a lot of people had. Amazon’s reviews were full of positive accolades for this strap, which definitely heightened my curiosity.

However, I was still very wary. When you’re injured, it’s easy to get really excited about a potential “cure,” only to be disappointed that it doesn’t immediately alleviate your ailment. I’ve learned this lesson too many times, and I’m very settled with the fact that injuries require patience and time to truly get over.

Fast forward to Saturday: BF and I decided to hike Mt. Si in honor of our four years of couple-hood, and I figured I’d wear the strap for poops and laughs. I wasn’t concerned about the going up part, as that’s not what irritates my IT band/knee. No, the downhill is what worried me—and I knew that this was when I’d be able to tell if the strap had any advantages.

From the top! Washingtonians, you must hike Mt. Si, it’s fantastic.

I had zero pain going up, and as we started going down—I was anticipating the stabbing knee pain to start at any time. I kept waiting, and still…no pain. I could definitely feel the pressure of the strap, but not even a glimmer of the pain I’ve been having for the past 6 weeks. So, in a completely reckless and probably unsmart move, I asked BF if we could try running a bit…just for fun.

Off we went, in hiking boots no less, and still…no pain. This was shocking. Even if I can get away with little knee pain in exercise, going downhill or downstairs will always flare it up. But there was nothing, and the further we went—the bigger my smile became. I love running down trail hills, and it felt so good to be flying down each switchback. We stopped a few times to make sure my knee was cooperating, and still…absolutely no pain. I was shocked and encouraged.

After we finished, I removed the strap, expecting to feel at least some of the familiar knee stiffness, but there was nothing. Aside from some very tired quads, my leg felt completely normal.

Obviously I was excited about this excursion, but I was still very wary. The true test would be how my knee felt the next day, and more importantly—if it worked again.

All through Sunday, and all through yesterday, I felt fantastic and decided last night to really see how this thing fared in some real running.

And you already know the results of that. I was blown away, confused, and mostly super excited. I stopped every two miles to stretch my IT band and check on my knee, and every time I stopped my knee felt completely normal. I admit I got a little ambitious with my pace and my mileage, but I couldn’t help it. I haven’t had a pain free run since before the marathon, and it felt so good to be running my familiar route. Not walk-running. Honest to goodness running, the entire way.

I was wiped by the end, understandably, and after finishing and doing some regular post-run stretching and foam rolling, I was still pain-free….and continue to be today.

Now the question becomes… what does this mean?

Well, for starters, while this IT band strap definitely does work—I understand foremost that it’s really just a bandaid. It’s alleviating the symptom of my injury, but it’s not solving the root problem. I’ll still be rolling and stretching regularly, icing, and popping anti-inflammatories. I won’t be stupid or reckless just because I “can” run again. I’ll get back into it slowly and cautiously, and be aware that the goal is to run without the strap at some point.

So, I’m going to be smart. But guess what? It looks like I’m also going to be running!

Who knew that a 1 1/2″ piece of material with velcro could be so effective? Remember, I am speaking solely from my own experience with this thing—I have no professional medical training or education (I know, you’re shocked), so please seek expert advice when considering options for treating this injury.

However, this IT band strap has helped completely reduced the pain in my knee caused by running. It also could be a number of other things—I hadn’t run for over a week when I tried this guy out, I have been consciously rolling and stretching a lot, and I’ve given this thing a while to sort itself out. I don’t know if this strap would have been helpful even two weeks ago, but no matter the combination of why my pain is going away—I’ll take it.

I realize that was an incredibly long-winded way of saying, “I bought a weird strap thing, and it’s working,” but I think you could have figured out that brevity isn’t my specialty 🙂

In other news…this little girl is back in my possession:

MY BABY'S HOME!!

MY BABY’S HOME!!

My credit card is also feeling incredibly appreciated.

Things seem to be getting fixed around these parts, and while I’m trying to stay cautious, I can’t help but feel pretty darn hopeful as well.

Have a great day!

SEATTLE PEOPLE! If I organized a group hike (either to Mt. Si or elsewhere) would people be interested? Let me know, and any suggestions are welcomed!

Perspective

Did I blog yesterday? No.

Was I going to blog yesterday? Yes.

So what happened? Well, consider my lack of communication an act of sparing readers from my down-in-the-dumps-ness. Yes, that makes sense.

You see, I had big plans for some positivity, some weekend recap, and some random banter. However, life chose to thwart that plan a bit—and alas, my ability to even fake happiness yesterday was completely zapped away. I didn’t feel I should divulge my feelings to the Internet, so I decided to follow the mantra that Mom always says, “It will be better in the morning.”

And you know what? It is. Sure, things are still pretty damn crappy, but thanks to my unavoidable optimistic hard-wiring, I’m feeling about 700% better than yesterday. And heavily caffeinated, which is a staple in the RB recipe book of creating a good mood.

But let’s back track a bit. Because despite my resentment toward the shit that’s gone down, I cannot leave you hanging like that. Note that I am wary about reporting personal, non-injury related bad news on my blog, however this isn’t so private. So, onward.

On Sunday, BF, my friend Anna, and I were headed east to do some hiking. BF was driving my car, while Anna and I followed in her own. To make a long story short, BF started going 30 on the highway, pulled over, we screwed around with some engine starting and stopping, and it was concluded that we needed to get the car towed. We still managed to get in our hike thanks to Anna’s vehicle, but at the end of the day BF and I spent our evening getting my beloved Glinda settled at an auto repair shop in West Seattle.

Gooooooooood times.

(Side note: AAA can see right through it when you try to get a membership after you need their services. In summary, get AAA before you need them—it’s worth it.)

Anyway, yesterday I went back to the auto shop with some high hopes for a simple, fixable, not-too-expensive diagnosis for my poor car.

Can you see where this is going?

Take the opposite of those high hopes, and that’s exactly what the mechanic got to tell me.

Essentially, my car needs a new engine, which including the labor involved in installing it, is going to come to oh just a little bit less than I initially paid for the car. Super duper fun times.

So, after a lot of discussion over what to do (you know how those conversations always need to happen in crappy car situations), I decided to bite the very expensive bullet and get my car fixed. It’s really, really not an ideal situation—but that was the best decision to make, and so all I can is move forward.

Other than feeling really bad for my car (she’s my baby!) and being pissed at the blow to my bank account, I was mostly just sad for all the things I wouldn’t be able to do/would need to put on hold due to this super inconvenient circumstance.

In truth, I was really just feeling sorry for myself. I spent most of yesterday alternating between crying and racking up a list of all the things I need to currently buy, pay off, and save for that will have to go to the back burner.

You know, because adding up all those things was really going to make me feel better about the whole thing.

It was a pity party to say the least, and while I’m still wallowing over the set-backs this will undoubtedly produce—the truth is, these things happen…and it’s going to be okay.

Sure, it sucks, and as a young 20-something I’m not exactly the most equipped person to handle the financial blow of it all. But, it really is all about perspective.

I might not be able to buy the road bike I’ve been planning on for a little while longer, but you know what? I’m still healthy, I’m still clothed, I’m still fed (a lot), and I’m going to be fine. There are many people who would have had to cut their losses completely in a scenario like this. And with that said, there are many people who don’t even have a car—nor the means of retaliating from a situation like this. When I can shift my perspective in that regard, it makes the whole scenario a lot more manageable.

Am I going to be paying an extra, hefty monthly bill for a while? Yes. But, it’s not the end of the world.

When I began realizing that this situation is only going to be as severe as I make it, I began to draw the same parallel to my lingering injury. The fact is, I’m still in pain, I’m still not feeling like I’ll be long running for a while, and I’m still in and out of very pissy moods about this whole thing. However, when I can pull out my better-self and think about this injury in the grand scheme of things, much like my car, it doesn’t seem to be such a big deal.

I can’t run right now, but that doesn’t mean I won’t run again. I know I keep repeating this (mainly because I have to keep re-telling it to myself) but all runners get injured. You are almost as much a runner when you’re injured as when you’re busting out PRs…it just comes with the territory. When I think about all the professional and Olympic-bound (Kara, I love you) runners whom I admire and look up to, it’s comforting to realize that all of them, at one point or another, has been sidelined—and, obviously, that never stopped them from doing great things.

Being a great runner isn’t about always being able to bust out a marathon on a whim or running fast every single day. It’s not even about times, podiums, or number of medals hanging in our houses. It’s about having the mentality that no matter what situation we’re in, whether sidelined or on the race course, all we can do is our very best. If we do that, there’s nothing to be disappointed in.

The transition from the whole car perspective thing to my injury reflection was a bit janky, I realize, but I think the biggest lesson I’m coming to terms with is that no matter what the scenario…everything will really be okay. In the big picture, hiccups happen, but they are only as big as we make them out to be. Even when we’re feeling overwhelmed, sad, or generally pissed off at the things that have brought us down, it’s so important to remember that we are still in control—no matter our feelings to the contrary. Because we are…we just need to keep the reigns in our own hands instead of letting our emotions and stress take them away.

Okay, enough serious stuff. I will leave you with some pictures from the weekend, instead of detailing all the adventures. As I said on Friday, my friend Anna came to visit me, and we had a wonderful time. Here is some documentation of that wonderfulness in photos. Spoiler, there was a lot of food involved.

Ikea! Please note our new indoor tree. Name yet to be determined.

A trip to Via Tribunali in Upper Queen Anne was the ticket for our Saturday night feeding, and it did not disappoint in the least.

Whole bottle of wine at dinner, check.

…And what goes better with a bottle of wine than a huge floppy pizza? This was all mine, in case there was any confusion.

BF approves.

And obviously after you are full of wine and pizza…the next best move is for…

Molly Moons ice cream! No, both are not mine, this time…

 

So, obviously I have a certain tendency to take pictures at meals. No need to photograph our beautiful hike, or any other activities for that matter apparently…I promise to get better at this!

So, regardless of the car mishaps, my weekend was certainly fantastic, and I’m thankful to have such a wonderful friend who will venture across the state to eat, play, and laugh with me.

 

I hope your week is going well so far! And if it’s not, try taking some control over your situation, and remember that although things could be better, they could always be worse as well. And if all else fails, go find yourself a pint of B&Js, or a puppy to play with. Strangers’ puppies are perfectly acceptable. 

 

Run Love

So I’m not going to lie. Waking up to a Twitter and Google Reader full of “National Run Day!” hoopla stung a bit.

Okay, it stung a lot.

Did you know it was National Run Day? It is. Happy holidays!

As someone who is a lover of every last holiday, including the random, probably-made-up days our country tends to promote, National Run Day is obviously right up my ally. Normally, I would celebrate with a double-digit morning run, in my favorite running outfit, and probably blog all about being in love with running after visiting the local running store to geek-out over miles and gels.

I take my holidays seriously people. And when you give me an “official” day to celebrate running, I will enthusiastically twirl a baton and wave at spectators at the running parade.

However, this year…my celebration plans aren’t exactly going to pan out as I would like.

Honestly, I could run today. My leg is definitely feeling better every day, and after 68 minutes and 7.5 miles of run/walking on Monday, my hopes are much higher for a quick comeback. I have been spacing out my runs with several days in between since I started back up, allowing any soreness or knee kinks to completely evaporate before trying again.

The thing about an IT band injury is that you’re not necessarily making things worse by running on them. Running doesn’t feel too great, that’s for sure, but it’s still do-able. Running with this injury essentially just elongates the healing process, because it tightens the band, therefore straining the knee, and even more icing and stretching is needed.

So, physically, I could run today. My soreness from Monday is nearly gone, there’s good-ish weather, and of course it’s National Run Day!

The question, then, this morning became…should I?

I absolutely hate the thought of being someone who doesn’t pay tribute to their favorite thing on a “national” day of recognition. As pretentious as it might sound, if there are people out there today logging miles that hardly run otherwise, surely I must be out there as well.

I’m a runner, I should be running today, that’s a given. And I can run! (kind of) So why not?

Essentially, I was thinking that it was a dishonor on my part to not run today. Yea yea yea, I know it’s a fake holiday and running any other day wouldn’t be any less fun or sweaty. But, I was still feeling pulled to run. Just to know I did it. Just to know that I am still a runner who can run whensoever she feels.

But then I got to thinking:

“Okay Robyn, is going out and gimping out a few—potentially painful—miles really going to prove you’re a real runner?”

(I don’t really think in third person, just go with it.)

Part of my brain said yes. It said, “Go on! Prove you’re getting back in the game. Prove that even without running for a month, you still have it in you.”

But prove what to who exactly? To running? Because I’m mad at running? Because I’m afraid of running and feel like I have to redeem myself worthy again?

This is when the other part of my brain started to infiltrate my thoughts. The part that is sensible, rational, and dare I say—smarter. She helped me realize that running for the sake of running today wasn’t going to actually help anything. It wasn’t going to send positive recovery vibes to the universe or “prove” to anyone or anything that I am still a runner.

No, all it could possibly do was set me back.

And all at once, my sense of reason took over, and I realized the truth.

If I love running so much, why would I want to run when I shouldn’t be?

If I want to “prove” my love for running, what I really should be doing is the sensible, careful thing…which would be allowing enough recovery, not pushing my limits, and slowly building back my strength. Running now (when I probably shouldn’t be, for no reason other than pride) would only prolong my ability to run in the future that much further.

And do I want that? No.

The best way for me, then, to celebrate National Run Day—a day where running should be given all the love it deserves—is to sit it out. My biggest downfall as a runner, as demonstrated in the Tacoma Marathon, is that I abuse the privilege of running. I can never get enough of it, and instead of treating running with TLC, I play roulette with it and my body—leading to collapses and injuries.

In that regard, I don’t need to “prove” anything in terms of my ability to get up and run. That’s not the hard part for me. The hard part is understanding that running is not something to be careless about, and in fact it needs the same kind of essentials as the rest of us—including some time to step back, lay out, and sip a summer brew.

(Go with my metaphor on this one.)

My point is that run love is not all about logging miles and miles, day after day. That’s a huge part of it, for sure, but run love also includes the times when we know we ought not to run. I know that if I truly want to prove how much I love to run today, I should let other people pound the pavement while I save my body for the time when it really can run again.

If I wanted to wind up in the same self-destructive mindset that led me to my downfall in the Tacoma Marathon, I would go run today. However, I want to be smarter, and I know that if I really want this sport to be in my life for a long time, I need to learn when to back off and be less selfish. Because running today would be the selfish thing to do, and in honor of my unconditional, pure love for running—in an act of selflessness, I’m going to start releasing the reigns.

 

With all that said, Happy National Run Day! Despite injuries, racing casualties, missing toenails, and an always full laundry hamper—I love this sport so incredibly much. As much as I might have whined in the past month, and as frustrated as I might get about being injured, I still ardently believe that even on the sidelines—nothing can teach us more about ourselves than running. And for that, I am thankful.

Whether you’re running or not today, I hope you show off your run love. Or, if you don’t run, go on and wave at someone who is. I can guarantee they are happy to be doing it…or at least they will be once it’s done 🙂

And mark my words, once fully healed, I will be celebrating my own self-made National Run Day with many happy miles, and anyone who wants to participate is invited.

How are you showing your run love today? How do you show your run love everyday?