Woohoo! I’m finally back!
Apologies for the lack of an update over the previous week – I’ve rolled that up into this more extensive post.
Injury update and lessons learned
It turns out it’s incredibly difficult to blog about running without actually doing any running… I follow plenty of run-bloggers out on that there interweb and plenty of them have taken time off from blogging whilst on long-term injury or illness. Whilst I’ve endured four consecutive weeks of self-enforced non-running since the Brass Monkey Half Marathon, I’ve not actually enjoyed uninterrupted and unhindered training since early December to give you a clearer view of how little running I’ve actually done. Colds and flus marred much of the final month of 2016, and then my Achilles tear occurred shortly before Christmas to challenge me on a weekly basis before I concluded I needed some extended time off.
So, what are the takeaways from my time on the injury bench?
Running is therapy for me. I have an obsessive and addictive personality, and hobbies are the perfect outlet. But when I wasn’t able to run, all I could focus on was not doing what I love and missing out on the training that drives me so.
Turns out the easiest way for me to switch off from pining for running was to literally do just that and forget about pounding the pavement. The first week or two was difficult initially, but worryingly, not thinking of, or doing, running became the norm after so little time. People say it takes up to three months for good learned behaviours to become habitual, but I was shocked by how little time it took for the familiarity and the want of running to fade away from memory. Physical marathons became Netflix marathons! Is it any wonder that so many people start the journey to healthier lifestyles, but so few are able to make them long-lasting?
Thoughts of eventually returning to running turned to dread at times. How much fitness will I have lost? How long will it take me to return to training normality? Unexpectedly, these fears need not have caused concern and I even surprised myself by confirming I’m actually a process driven runner after all – the goal is to get back to my peak, and to eventually surpass it, but it’s that journey there that’s so critical at the moment. It’s not a means to an end and I’ll come good when ready, and I’m cool with that.
So, without further ado, let’s move on to that first run back from injury…
Cannon Hill Parkrun
My extended stint at volunteering has been enjoyable and even catapulted me into the 25 Club – I’m looking forward to receiving the purple Tribe Sports volunteer t-shirt, but it won’t end there; I still fully intend to volunteer when tapering for races and so on. Making myself useful whilst injured has been my way of giving something back to Parkrun. If you consider yourself a regular Parkrunner, but can’t recall the last time you volunteered, or perhaps you’ve never volunteered, why not reacquaint/introduce yourself and sign up?
Donning my running gear for the first time in a month was a rather odd experience. My shoes felt completely alien to my feet and I had to constantly go through the routine in my mind so that I didn’t forget anything. Clothes? Check. Garmin? Check. Barcode? Check.
Once more, I commuted over to Cannon Hill Park with Liz Dexter, who reminded me repeatedly not to crock myself again by being an idiot. This is where the extended absence from running has proved helpful in my recovery and rehabilitation; the heady heights of peak training were a distant memory and it was now entirely about reintroducing regular running in a controlled and safe manner with no rush.
Sharing my warm-up jog with Nigel Beecroft, my legs felt great and were expectedly fresh with a noticeable bounce to my stride. Each forward step was joyous and my form returned quickly with no deterioration. I felt like Ebenezer Scrooge waking up alive on Christmas morning – it’s great to be back!
Casting aside any lofty goals, Nigel, Simon and I agreed to just see what would happen if we aimed for somewhere between 22 and 23 minutes. I cared not that such finish times were some 3 to 4 minutes slower than the norm; the new norm is to simply survive 5k, pain-free.
The three of us ran in close unison, though they both had the edge on me as I regularly brought up the rear of the pack. My legs had plenty of strength and mobility, though it was my cardiovascular system that stopped me from pushing any harder. I’m unsure if it was purely lack of familiarity or actual fitness loss that held me back; probably a bit of Column A and a bit of Column B. But boy, oh boy, to be running again was all that mattered. The simple things in life, eh?
Both Nigel and Simon finished in just under 22 minutes, and me just over. Here’s the Strava data for this run.
A post-run coffee with them both, along with Carl Stainton, rounded off a problem-free return to running.
Out of the blue, I also bumped into Simon Cook, the chap that interviewed me back in December about run-commuting – ironically, something I’ve also not done since mid-December… He was interviewing another run-commuter as part of the research project, with only a few remaining participants left to cover.
5k around the neighbourhood
For the next two weeks, I’ve promised myself to not run any further than 5k and to cover the distance at comfortable paces. Sunday is traditionally most people’s long run allocation, so it was rather odd, though refreshingly welcome, to be completely done and dusted in fewer than 30 minutes!
Expectedly, there was some muscle soreness from the previous day’s 5k, along with being on my feet afterwards for some 6 hours. It’s most noticeable in my quads, hips and lower back from a lack of use.
Encouragingly, my VO2max is still sitting at 60-61 based on feedback from my Garmin.
Here’s the Strava data for this run.