Ending the Run Season in Recovery Mode

run2Three weeks ago from last Saturday, I was out on my last LSD training run for my first half marathon. I was set to run this half 2 weeks ago from last Saturday, on 10/12. As I look over my calendar now, I have it whited out (It’s kind of hard to look at it up there). My training this summer for my half had gone great! A month ago I ran a marathon relay (which I wrote about in my last blog post, making this one long overdue). I had come so far and I was so confident for this half coming up. The weather here in Alaska (even now) has been beautiful. We have been blessed with extended fall weather and on this last long run training day, the weather was just that. A perfect fall day with amazing colors, cool weather, and just enough sun shining through the clouds. One of my friends came out and ran the first 3 miles with me. We went up and around the University and she cut off at the parking lot by the lake where we had left her car. My plan was to continue on, hitting 12 miles and meeting the bf, where we’d have lunch and he’d take me home. I was also excited to finally run all of the Farmer’s Loop trail. I usually do my LSD runs as an out and back and don’t get to do the whole path. So I continued on from the lake, and at mile 6 was feeling a little ache in my ankle. After months of training and running through good pain, I thought nothing of it. Until I hit mile 8. With 4 miles to go, and a pain that that quickly brought me back to memories of an ankle injury from a year previously, I had a decision to make. My choice was to call it a day, get picked up, and nurse my ankle. I was upset, but knew I had trained well enough that if my ankle recovered, I could still run the half. I had exactly two weeks before raceday.

KT Tape KTWrap1 KTWrap2

For two weeks, I did just that. I took days of rest, IBU, ice, ice, ice. Then reverted back to my PT stretches and PT exercises. I started taking Phenocane (natural anti-inflammatory, better for you for IBU and I LOVE it. Check out your local natural food/supplement store), finally got a foam roller, and invested in some KT tape (#1 athletic tape by far – plus it comes in cool colors). So gradually I started doing a little bike/elliptical for cardio and decided on no running before the race. But alas, the ankle was not recovering fast enough. Two days before the race (which btw, the race was in Anchorage, 6 hours away and we had planned to fly there but were waiting to get tickets), I finally threw in the towel and decided it wasn’t worth risking further injury.

So how did I feel? Like a failure. I think it was harder to recover from that decision to not race than having to recover from this injury in many ways. Sometimes, life gets away from you. You feel like you don’t have control of it, and much of it you DON’T. But as a runner, you do. You get up in the morning or you come home in the evening and you put on your running shoes and it’s like putting the foundation under your feet. Lacing up is like wrapping that warm security blanket around you to tell you “it’s ok. you are whole. you’ve got this and we’ve got you.” So what happens when that control is taken away from you? It’s like your foundation comes crumbling down. Everyday my ankle doesn’t feel well to run, I feel lost. I feel like I don’t have a grip of my world anymore. I have to find other ways to center myself again, and that’s a hard thing to grasp.

So how am I coping? Well, for one, I’ve had some great encouragement from a couple of incredible friends. One has encouraged me to train for a triathlon in the Spring, something I didn’t think I could ever do. Although I love biking and running, the swimming is more tough for me. But she is there with me now, willing to train with me and help me improve. After one day in the pool with her, I know I can do this. What’s the benefit of triathlon training? I can do it while my ankle is recovering and put off the running. Her and I are even talking about a long distance bike trip – maybe in Denali or maybe Anchorage to Seward (which is what is on my bucket list).

That same friend has also encouraged to run or walk a Halloween 5k with her and her family this Saturday. To dress up, and HAVE FUN! To do it as a fun run. I’m very competitive with myself, and racing brings out the best in me and my running abilities. It gives me an amazing adreline rush. But being able to go out, run or walk a 5k for FUN with my friends, that is a good way to end the season and I am coming to accept that.

Another thing I’ve realized is that without the training I had done to date for the half, I wouldn’t have been able to do the amazing Marathon Relay I did last month. For that alone, I’m so glad I was training and it was worth it. The Equinox Marathon Relay was an irreplacable experience of the running community, teamwork, and realizing my own abilities.

Now, as for training, recovery, and the like. Anyone who knows me, knows I hate the DREADmill. I also think it’s horrible for recovery running. You have to pick a pace, and its hard to tell where your body wants to naturally be. Mind you, its horrible on your feet. My feet love the outdoors, paved trails and dirt, and love to be able to naturally change pace. When you are recovering, your body needs to quickly say – hey hey! Slow down! At your pace, not at how fast you can push a button on a treadmill. I’ve been a member of a gym for awhile now, and when I joined, it was the best thing for me. I lost alot of weight, did all of the group classes, and used the pool when I was recovering my injury last fall. But I’ve come to realized I’ve platoed and am looking for more. My workouts have to keep up with me, and I have to be able to train on something better than a gym’s stationary bike.

So here I am, gearing up for some changes and Alaska’s winter. This winter’s plan is cross country ski group, women’s run group (I ran 2 miles last week and am hoping to run with run group tonight!), Crossfit-style workouts, swimming, and setting up my bike to ride inside. It’s time to say goodbye to the old gym routine, and start exploring some (hopefully) new-found passions! I’m pretty excited to change things up, train for a Tri and I’m certainly welcoming any advice!

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