The State of our Running

I've talked previously about why we started running in the first place and the race that wound up sending me to the ER, but since then I've been pretty silent on the state of our running after the ER incident. As tomorrow is the Austin Marathon, the race we signed up to run over three months ago, I thought now would be a good time to share an update on our running and an explanation on why we aren't running tomorrow.

After I wound up in the ER with excruciating back pain the week of Thanksgiving, I had to take a very large step back from our training regime for the Austin Marathon. I was on bed rest and pain meds for several days, and then used an electrotherapy machine every few days for about five weeks before I started feeling significantly better. After about three weeks of rest, I was able to take short walks without pain and after a month, I started adding in light stretching throughout the day and used a foam roller every few days for tension in my legs.

It took five weeks of recovery before I felt well enough to try running again. The tough part of recovering from an injury is not allowing yourself to jump back into it too soon but also reminding yourself that you will get better. I knew that after being out for five weeks, getting back into training would take time and lots of patience. I did not realize just how long it might take to build back up the endurance though. I did a few light jogs around our neighborhood the week before we left on our Christmas trip and then excitedly packed up my running shoes for the two-week vacation. Though I was feeling better at that point, we knew a month-and-a half was not sufficient enough time to train for a full marathon, so we asked to be moved down to the half-marathon.

During our two-week trip, we ran every other day (or so) but they were all shorter runs (3 - 4 miles) and slower than we had been running prior to my injury. I assumed that training in the cold would help once we got back to Texas, but getting injured (without knowing exactly why) had unfortunately deflated my confidence and the past month has been especially challenging. I re-did our training plan in early January, we tried to increase our mileage and I just couldn't keep up with Keith. Unfortunately, for the last few weeks we've had to run separately (and throughout my five-week recovery he ran alone) because I've needed to take it a lot slower than I expected to at this point. I also have been pretty grumpy in the past month as I struggled with being so much slower, getting out of breath on hills, and not being ready to push beyond our weekday short runs.

Finally last week I had a breakthrough (it helps when my husband calls me out on being a "grumpy bugger") and after two weeks of run recovery on our new treadmill, Keith and I were able to run together for the first time in weeks. We ran seven-miles, which is my longest run since the ER incident in November, and though still challenging, I felt stronger and have started getting a little closer to my old speed. All our runs this past week, and this morning, were also together and feeling more like last October training. We came to terms with the fact in the middle of January, that I needed more recovery time and wouldn't be ready to run the half-marathon tomorrow either. Keith could have done it but insisted that we're a team and though we may sometimes train apart, we will always race together.

Peace was certainly a good word for this year, as in the past month, I've struggled a lot with being at peace over not being able to run the race tomorrow. I know we'll run many races in our future, and that it's important to listen to your body when recovering from an injury, but that certainly doesn't make it easier. Fortunately, Keith and I recently decided to sign-up to run the Austin 10/20 in April and started a new training plan, so it's helping distract us a little. And the past few days, we've talked about races we would love to be part of in the future (Chicago, New York, Paris, Disney, etc) so I know there are a lot of 13+ miler runs to look forward to! Some day we'll tackle Austin again, and I'm finally starting to feel more confident, that we'll kill that very first PR time we set on that race in February 2013.

Sending lots of positive and encouraging thoughts to everyone running the Austin Marathon tomorrow. Look forward to all your victorious finishing line photos!