As the weather gets colder, the days get shorter, and the calendar is on its last page, most triathletes and runners are putting away their wetsuits and singlets. The race season is over (at least here in the Northeast), and most athletes are off hibernating in what we call “winter maintenance”. Winter maintenance is a much less intense level of training than the height of racing season. We work out enough to not go insane, but this is when we give muscles, tendons and bones a bit of a break. Not for me, though. I’m just getting started.
OK, stop screaming at me and saying that I had promised I’d take some time off to let body parts heal. I am. I’m not starting to train for my next marathon (though I am already registered for the 2014 NY Marathon next fall…). I’m learning how to run again.
|Run/walking a race in August. Not happy.|
To recap for anyone new here, I’ve been run/walking since July when my foot was unfettered from the medical boot that held it captive for 13 weeks. It’s a great method, and with it I ran 2 marathons, both with faster times than my first marathon back in 2011. So as successful as I’ve been with it, it’s just not for me. I don’t know; maybe I just want to feel like I’m dying throughout the entire workout, and not just intermittently.
The problem is that I haven’t done any regular running since April when I was diagnosed with a stress fracture in my foot, and I haven’t run well since I broke it in March (yes, I ran on a broken foot for a month. Yes, it was stupid. Now stop nagging me). So, I’m basically starting from scratch. I took 2 weeks off after the Brooklyn Marathon in mid-November, and on the Saturday after Thanksgiving I laced up my running sneakers and stepped outside for my first run in months.
The wind hit me as soon as I stepped outside, and after waiting a minute in the cold for my watch to catch a GPS signal, I thought, “I like this? Really?” But right at that moment my watch beeped to tell me that it knew where I was, and off I went.
The first four minutes were fantastic. I was running hard and fast. My breathing was a bit heavy, but I wasn’t worried. I had just started out. Another minute in, though, it dawned on me that I had gotten in the habit of running hard and fast because I only had to do it in 4 minute intervals with 2 minute walking breaks in between. Oops.
I didn’t stop, but slowed down enough to catch my breath and think about my options. I could keep running at this sprint and see how far I got before I just keeled over and patiently waited for some random person to find my body. I could go back to run/walking and accept it as my standard format. I could stop completely which would get me out of the cold but likely lead me down the path of a sedentary, unhealthy life where I would be such a frequent visitor of the Wendy’s near my office that I could go in and just order “the usual”. Or I could figure this out.
I’ll keep this blog short and cut to the chase. I went for option D (though I did have a quick fantasy about option C that involved an order of Wendy’s French fries). Come on. You’ve been reading my blog long enough. You knew that I would. I wasn’t going to quit. Not now, after I had just shown my horrible race year who was boss by completing 2 entire marathons 14 days apart.
|My first race, July 2009|
I ran at a slower pace for the first mile, then adjusted my time up or down as I went. I only ran 3.1 miles (because no runner on this planet would run 3 miles and miss running a 5K by two New York City blocks), and ended with a pace I could live with on my first run back.
I’ve run 3 more times since then, each one just 3.1 miles. I am going to let my body adjust to life with no walking breaks, and I’m going to build my mileage up slowly in the hopes that I will not have to add another medical boot to my current collection. By the spring I hope to be running like the wind, making PRs ("personal records" for you normal folks that don’t speak “runner”), and being ready to keep up with the others who are just coming out of hibernation. But for right now, I’m just getting started.