I thought about blogging many times this past week about my return to running, but it didn't seem like there was much to write about. I'm simply running again. I'm increasing mileage slowly and listening to my joints and tendons and all of the other little pieces that creak and whine when I do something "new". I'm still having soreness and knots in my Peroneal muscles (the ones that run from your foot up the outside of your lower leg.) That's been annoying, but not a huge deal and it doesn't bother me while I'm running. My ankle gets a little sore after I run, but nothing like before my rehab.
The truth is that nothing ankle related hurts when I run. It's funny because other parts are squeaking, like my knees, because I couldn't properly keep them prepared for the return to pounding the roads. Normally I might initially stick to softer surfaces when returning from injury, but the dirt and rocks are more likely to cause re-injury by their uneven nature. I do have plans to run on a soft trail in NJ next weekend, one that I know is pretty even and smooth. I'll be extra careful about watching my footing.
For now I'm out running the roads and sidewalks (Inwood is no place to run in the road, seriously) and enjoying every minute of it. I'm wearing my Garmin, but just to keep my mileage in check. We were curious about the group pace last night because it felt quick to me and another friend returning from injury, but it was actually around 9:30's! Haha, we had a good laugh about it because we felt like we were pushing close to 8:00 or something around there, but we were happy to realize that we'd been talking comfortably for the whole way. We were both thrilled that we maintained our aerobic fitness during the recovery. Thanks swimming.
Last Thursday I ran 4.5 miles (I should pay attention to the Garmin distance once in a while, oops, too far) and it felt really good. Simply put: I feel really wonderful when I'm putting one foot in front of the other and the wind is blowing in my face. I love the steady rhythm of my footfalls and my breath and the feeling of pushing myself through the world with my own strength. I'm sure plenty of people get that same feeling from cycling, but for me the bike gets in between me and the earth. It's not the same. Luckily for me, moving through the open water with the strength of my own arms and legs provided a good alternative this summer.
Yesterday was Columbus Day and I had the day off so I spent Sunday night at Mom's and got up for a very familiar 4 mile run. I didn't pack the best shoes for the run, I had my North Face trail shoes, but it was fine. I started off at an easy pace, letting my legs warm up naturally and I ran mile 1 in 8:57. I felt great, the weather was perfect - 55 degrees and sunny. I decided that I'd just let myself find a natural pace for the next two miles and if I felt okay then I'd push a little for the last mile. I eased into and 8:28 pace for miles 2& 3 and I was happy with that. That's my usual "I'm just going for a run" pace. As I pushed towards the telephone pole that marks the end of the 3rd mile I got excited at the prospect of picking up the pace. I let myself ease into it because the first 75 yds or so are uphill followed by a gentle downhill for much of the mile. It felt harder than it normally would have to run at and 8:10ish pace, but I realized I was running into the wind. I let myself go for the last half a mile or so, like loosening the reins on a horse in the final stretch. I didn't sprint, that would be stupid this early in the game, but I cruised and finished up with an 8:04 for mile 4. That felt good. So good.
The best part is that my Peroneals aren't sore today at all. My soleus (solei?) are tight again, but I worked them out with a little yoga this morning. I've noticed that my footstrike is a little more on my forefoot these days so I attribute the soreness to that.
I'm curious how many people know the difference between their calf and soleus. I am always surprised when a seasoned runner says something like "wait, which one is my hamstring again?" while pointing to their quads with one eyebrow raised. I think I may begin a little "what's this muscle?" series to help folks out with the basics of running musculature.
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