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Relearning to run… yayyyyyy!

04/30/2011

So after about six weeks off, this calf tear nonsense appears to be under control. I’ve been back to running for about two weeks.

To recap the last few months: I tore my medial calf slipping on snow during a run in mid-February and initially brushed it off as nothing more than a minor tweak. But bruising at the tear site, knife-like pain that prevented me from even jogging through a crosswalk, and finally a doctor diagnosis forced me to stop being an idiot and take care of it.

What I did while I was injured: I aimed for 90 minutes a day of cross training (mostly rowing machine plus some biking, swimming and elliptical) and three lifts per week. I schlepped my injury toolkit of ice, ace bandage, heat pad with me to work so that I could take care of it there, too. I carried a baseball around with me everywhere and massaged the life out of the tear area. I strongly suspect that the combination of heat and baseball massage were a big part of the recovery magic.

This entire experience has made me incredibly gun-shy about pushing things. Right now, it feels as if I’m relearning how to run. The comeback process will be long and probably frustrating. I’ll be slow. I’ll be vulnerable to getting injured trying to do too much too soon. My knees already feel tendonitis-y and that neuroma/bursitis/whatever in my foot is as painful as ever. Patience is more important than ever.

In the meantime, though, I can use this opportunity to reconstruct my entire stride. Instead of working on trying to get faster or go longer — which I am not in the position to do yet — I am forced to focus on form and cadence. What better time to build good habits than right now? Perhaps eliminate any propensity to heel-strike? Keep my turnover hovering around that magical 180 steps per minute? These are the things I’m keying on in lieu of miles and paces.

And here’s the good part… here’s why I worked so hard not to lose too much fitness while I was out: last week, I finally, finally, finally ran in a race. My calf held up excellently and I managed the 7.3 mile course in about 49 minutes flat, inwardly grinning like a doofus the entire time. My legs still have many gears yet to find, but it was such a thrill to be back at it that I couldn’t even be bothered by the realization that I have zero kick right now.

But let me tell you something about how your body will feel while racing for the first time in two months even if you managed to stay in very good cardiovascular shape during the layoff:

Meanwhile….

my legs are sissies.

Yeah.

My heart and my lungs are ready to go. They’ve been maintained and challenged through this entire two month process. The legs, on the other hand, are many miles behind. This became incredibly obvious during the race — my breathing was controlled, my heart felt like the effort level was “business as usual,” and my legs felt like whiny crybaby garbage. That’s how it’ll be for a little while, and I’m okay with it.

So happy to be back.

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23 Comments leave one →
  1. 04/30/2011 16:44

    yay!! glad to hear you’re back!! and apparently kicking ass at races already…and i’m assuming a 7.3 mile PR? also i think your picture of your legs might be my favorite thing ever.

  2. 04/30/2011 16:57

    Woo hoo, sweaty one! Welcome back. And if you happen to perfect that stride, could you throw a few tips our way?

    PS – I can only imagine how mentally amazing that first race back was. Seriously. Go, girl.

  3. 04/30/2011 17:17

    Your legs will be sweating in no time. Slow and steady wins, etc. Welcome back!!

  4. 04/30/2011 20:20

    Welcome back! What a major injury, so glad you kept up your fitness even if your legs were (lol) whiny crybaby garbage. Love the focus on what you can control right now – cadence is win-win for both injury prevention and speed.

  5. 04/30/2011 20:25

    Yay! That’s a speedy comeback – you give me hope!

  6. 05/01/2011 02:43

    okay, i have to say it. those legs drawing is a little creepy.

    BUT the fact that you ran a speedy comeback race makes up for it. does this mean racing season is starting up in general in good old AK?

  7. 05/01/2011 10:20

    So, I read this from my phone, and my mind automatically filled in “bat” after baseball. I just wanted you to know that I was picturing you all bad ass, carrying a baseball BAT around with you, and I was ready to take pity and offer to buy you a Stick until I reread it from a computer.

  8. 05/01/2011 12:27

    ZOMG ZOMG ZOMG.

    Sweaty Kid has returned. This post totally made my day. Nay, my entire weekend.

  9. 05/01/2011 15:03

    hahaha. those poor legs. they are in for a rude re-awakening! 🙂 welcome back to running!

  10. 05/02/2011 03:15

    Yay! Way to go! And yes, I know that heart/lungs is there but the legs are not feeling after time away cross-training. Your drawing captured it perfectly.

  11. Murdoch permalink
    05/03/2011 04:38

    Glad to hear you’re back! Thats an impressive first race off of 2 weeks of training.

  12. 05/03/2011 20:27

    one post a month, what a tease!! I actually like it better than the 3-a-dayers. Makes it more sweet when you do post 🙂

    If I’m doing my math correctly, which nobody will every know, your 7.3 miles run after nursing a calf tear was off the hook! faaaaaast. I wonder what you can do when you’re actually training hardcore instead of icing hardcore??

    • 10/17/2012 10:21

      Well look at that. I have no memory of having read this post, but it has been 1.5 years so I’m going to consider my memory normal.

      I think I’m on a similar track for my “rest”, 60-90 minutes of cross-training a day, but so far none of it is very intense…. I’m hoping to get some weight training in 2x per week. So far it makes me too sore to do it more than that. Wish I knew what/where to ice/heat/roll. Stupid doctors.

  13. 05/04/2011 13:49

    So glad to see you’re back!! I don’t know how I missed this post until now, but I was just thinking about you and planning to stalk down your email address so I could check in. Happy to be able to read a new (and fabulous) post from you and leave a comment.

    I’m sure it does feel weird to nearly re-learn to run, but hopefully you will just come back even stronger.

    • 05/04/2011 14:00

      P.S. That’s a great race time! I think your mental toughness for fighting through on sore legs may be the most impressive. 🙂

  14. 05/05/2011 03:19

    That’s a good comeback race — 4:10 ks for over 10k is pretty quick on cranky legs.

    I’m feeling the same thing even though I had 11 days off and zero cross-training. Good heart and lungs but legs that aren’t quite there. In a way though, it’s good to see an obvious weakness that can be easily enough fixed.

  15. 05/05/2011 05:29

    Glad to hear that you’re back in business! Super happy to hear that you were able to maintain cardiovascular fitness through cross training. Hopefully I can too! I should look into rowing as an alternate cardio activity.

  16. 05/05/2011 18:26

    Yayyyy welcome back!! 🙂

  17. Katyfromhighschool permalink
    05/08/2011 05:58

    Yea for being able to run again!! Nice race!!

  18. 05/09/2011 18:38

    Hooray! Look at you, racing just a week after starting to run again!

  19. 05/24/2011 01:33

    I’m late to this party, just wanted to add a “yay!” and hope your comeback is continuing!

  20. 06/23/2011 04:09

    How are you going? Haven’t heard from you for a while. Hope all’s OK.

  21. 07/10/2011 01:50

    So…yeah…how are things?

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