Why I’ve Been MIA and Shutting Down

I am working on a blog-related project and I had intended not to blog until the project was ready for release.  I made that decision when it was almost done, but then classes started and I haven’t been working on it because I am suddenly a lot more busy.  Every time I have wanted to blog over the last couple weeks, I have decided that I can’t because my project isn’t ready yet.  I think it’s been three weeks now and I don’t want to rush completion, so I’m just going to return to blogging until it is done. 🙂

This is going to have to not be a running blog for a while because I am not running for a while.  I have a piriformus injury that is almost gone, but I also have persistent tendinitis in the arches of both feet.  I have had the latter on and off for almost a year at this point.  Running with tendon pain is just not worth it to me anymore.  I am restarting physical therapy on the 26th for my hip, and I have been much more diligent about doing prescribed at-home exercises and icing my feet.  I have been wearing inserts in my shoes, and if my physical therapist suggests custom orthotics as she has in the past, instead of saying “no thanks,” I am going to ask, “How much and when can we make them?”

Lately, I have been wishing that I could just erase my last year or two of running.  Through mostly mistakes of my own, I have been plagued with injury after injury.  Sure, I ran my fastest half marathon in May 2013, but I also got a stress fracture and peroneal tendonitis during the way-too-aggressive build-up.  If I could, I would give up that PR to not have begun the vicious injury cycle back then.

Hindsight is 20/20 and there is no point to living in regret.  I may have had an unproductive, mostly injured 18 months of training, but I can learn from that.  I can learn to be patient, to be cautious, and not to try to keep up with far more experienced runners (in terms of pace, mileage, and what workouts they do).  I may not be the most patient person on the whole, but patience is all I have right now when it comes to running.

I am only 21 years old.  There are people who start running at this age or later and end up running very well into their thirties and beyond.  The other night as I was lying in bed, I thought, “I wish I could just start over.”  And you know what?  I can.  If I am very patient and heal completely instead of going back to running as soon as I think I feel better, I can start over.  If I do not think of it as a return to running, I can start over.  I’m not going to think about things I used to be able to do and my goal will not be to get back to that level of fitness.  I don’t want to go back.  I want to move forward.  I’m going to start fresh.  A clean slate.  A healthy body.  Unknown potential.

I’m hoping for a January 1, 2015 start date.  Not a return date, but a start date.  If I am not healthy by then, I will not run.  If I am healthy before then, I will enjoy extra time off and start in the new year.  I am done running for this year.  This has been a long, painful learning process that I am ready to leave behind.

Just to be clear, the blog is not going anywhere.  I will keep writing here, and hopefully soon my project will be ready to unveil. 🙂

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My First(ish) Sports Massage

I haven’t had a sports massage, deep tissue massage, or any kind of massage where a professional massage therapist works on a specific problem area since I was ten or twelve years old.  I had been wanting to get one for quite a while, remembering how painful yet effective they had been for me in the past.  However, I had this mental block about how I only wanted to go to my old massage therapist, who is 45 minutes away and works in an ice rink.

After I developed some intense muscle tightness in my hip last week, I decided it was time to suck it up and go to someone local.  It turns out my insurance covers “osteopathic manipulative therapy,” which is a fancy way of saying “deep tissue massage.”  It would be 90% covered, but my insurance manual said I would have to get approval before going (whether that is a referral from my primary care physician, or something else, I don’t know).  Additionally, the closest place offering those services and accepting my insurance was a chiropractic clinic 20-30 minutes away.  It just seemed like a lot of hassle, so I opted to pay out of pocket to go to a local clinic.

I did some research online while lying in bed Wednesday night.  My hip was stressing me out, worrying about where to schedule a massage was stressing me out, stress leads to lack of sleep, and stress plus lack of sleep does nothing to relax muscles.  So I did my research late at night.  I looked into a few places and found one near my apartment with a record of working with professional athletes and Olympians, as well as volunteering their services at the end of local races.  I felt confident they knew what they were doing and especially knew runners.  Plus, they had online booking, so I was able to schedule myself an appointment online at midnight for a sports massage the next day after work.  Always a plus when I don’t have to make a phone call!

When I made my appointment, I described my problem in the “special instructions” section.  When I showed up the next day, the massage therapist already knew exactly why I was there and had printed off some materials about helpful stretches to send home with me.  I was already impressed.  I wasn’t expecting any sort of rehab/at-home advice.  The whole 45-minute session was very feedback-oriented as well as instructional.  He explained what he was doing and what I could do at home to help my hip.  It was never very painful, not at all like how I remembered the massages I used to get (maybe they were a different style), but obviously a massage does not need to be painful to be effective, because it helped a ton.

After the massage, I thought my hip felt about 50% better, and now, the next day, it feels 80% better.  I’m still debating whether to run today because I’m worried about “undoing” the work from yesterday, but even just walking feels so much better, so I am very very happy.

I think I’m converted to someone who likes to get massages during training!  My wallet can probably stand the $50 every month or so.

Do you like to get deep tissue or sports massages (they’re different things, right?) to aid in recovery?  If so, how often do you get them?

Lesson from the Gardens: Obsession

On Friday at lunchtime, one of my bosses took some of us at work to the Matthaei Botanical Gardens to see an 80-year-old agave in bloom.  It was great “professional development” time.  I’m a web developer.

They had a panel open and Mr. Agave was growing out of the ceiling!

They had a panel open and Mr. Agave was growing out of the ceiling!

The venerable Sausage Tree.

The venerable Sausage Tree.

A surprising number of people in our group (three or four of us) are into gardening and know quite a bit about different kinds of flowers and plants.  They would point out things they owned, things they wanted to own, things they tried to grow, etc.  On the way out, one of my coworkers asked my boss, “So, you are into gardening?”

“I used to be.  I tend to do things until they become MY JOB.  I’m taking a break now until it becomes fun again.”

I just yesterday wrote a post about how I am sick of training for races and how I might want a break from running until I can return to the primal fun-ness of it all.  Obviously running will never be my job, just like gardening is not my boss’s job, but the principle applies.  I’m aware I have an obsessive (addictive?) personality and I do tend to get very into things only to do them so much that I get sick of them.

Two years ago, I was incredibly into knitting and crochet.  I haven’t touched my knitting bag in a long time, except to move it.  Admittedly, the summer I was super into yarn crafts was the summer my apartment had bed bugs (they were there before I moved in and I wasn’t told…) and I did most of my work sitting on my bed, so I’m still a little freaked that there could be bugs surviving in there.  The other day, I was actually thinking about how it would be nice to knit something again, but how if I did, I would probably want to get all new things because of the bug potential, which is really too bad because I still have some good unused yarn.

Maybe I actually will hit the knitting shop this weekend and pick up some new yarn.  At least I can still use my old hooks and needles.  Anyway, I digress.

Lately, after working on a puzzle up north two weekends ago, I have been obsessed with puzzles.  I walked around to six different stores downtown last Monday but couldn’t find any, so I picked a few up when I went to the grocery store the next day.  I got a four-pack of 500-piece puzzles and a 1000-piece puzzle.  So far, I have finished one of the smaller ones and have the 1000-piecer about three-quarters of the way finished.  Like I said to Matt the other day, I’ve been doing puzzles so much this last week that soon I’m never going to want to do one again.

Finished about half of this one Tuesday night and the rest on Sunday.

Finished about half of this one Tuesday night and the rest on Sunday (500 pieces).

I took this progress picture on Saturday night. I finished a lot more of it last night. :)

I took this progress picture on Saturday night. I finished a lot more of it last night. 🙂 (1000 pieces)

And yes, in case you were wondering, I AM one of those people who will play a song over and over again until I hate it.  Luckily, that seems to take a very long time for most songs.  There is an album that came out almost a year ago–The Death of Me by Asking Alexandria–that I still listen to all the time and is still a staple in any playlist I make.

Sometimes, people talk about a line between dedication and obsession.  That line might not exist for me for some things, but I’m only obsessed with things as long as they are FUN.  Running by myself is NOT FUN right now, but I’m getting pretty psyched about all the social runs I have plans to go to in the future, and I’m probably going to do a local 5k this weekend FOR FUN.  No pressure for a time, no pressure to race, just having fun and contributing to a good cause.

I Didn’t Listen to My Body and I Don’t Even Care

Hi. My feet hurt. My feet have hurt for the last several weeks and I have kept running on them feeling them get worse and worse and knowing I was running myself into an injury. Yet for some reason, I didn’t care. And honestly, I still don’t care. I haven’t run since Wednesday, which is only five days ago. For the last week and a half of running, I have been seriously considering quitting altogether. While running 12 miles around the lake two weekends ago, I was thinking about how I didn’t even really like running long anymore and how I would be much happier just running however much I feel like whenever I feel like it.

I don’t want to train for things anymore.  Or at the very least, I want a break from training for things.  I don’t want the pressure of a deadline and I don’t want to feel like I have to run through discomfort if I don’t want to.  That doesn’t mean I’m not going to do races for fun if I feel like it.  I have a ten-mile race toward the end of August that I am doing because Matt does it every year and he wanted me to do it with him.  It will be fun.  It also doesn’t mean I’m going to stop running longish.  I like being in shape to drop in on things like running the 8 miles around Mackinac Island if I make a trip up there and feel like running around the island.

But I’m not going to force myself to run when I don’t want to.  I’m sick of that and it makes me sick of running.  I walked to work this morning (two miles) and I was just as happy as if I had run before work.  I’m not going to run through pain just because I think I am “supposed” to be running, which is what I had been doing the last few weeks.  Nooo thank you.

Last week, I made plans to go to a social run tomorrow night, and I really want to go to that, but it happens every week and I’m not going to grit my teeth and run with painful feet just because I’m impatient and want to go to the social run this week instead of next.  I’ll see what tomorrow brings, but I’m pretty sure it isn’t going to bring pain-free feet.

Oh, and I finally deleted my running club Google doc.

HHN1: Thoughts on the First Six Weeks

I realized this morning that last week was the sixth week of my current training plan (catch-up: I’m using Hal Higdon Novice 1 marathon training to build mileage this summer).  The plan is 18 weeks long, which means I am officially a third of the way through it.  I think it would be jinxing things to make any comments about levels of health or success up to this point, but I do want to reflect on the past weeks a little bit.

I stopped doing weekly training recaps after the second week of the plan because I was finding them boring to write.  I already keep a training log for myself, so it’s not like I need weekly blog write-ups to hold myself accountable or to give me something to look back on.  I thought about posting a training recap today, but instead, here are some general take-aways looking back at the first six weeks of the program.

  1. I like having a structured outline of what days I will be running and how far.  I have never followed a training plan before and this takes a lot of the guesswork out of training for me.
  2. I was concerned about how the plan has three consecutive run days each week–Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday.  I’m finding that I can handle it physically, but sometimes I feel burned out by the third day.  The last two weeks, due to other scheduling issues, I have switched Thursday’s run day and Friday’s rest day, which I have liked better.  However, I’m going to keep sticking to the plan as much as possible.
  3. Following this plan has afforded me more consistency with running than I have had all this year.  My reasoning for choosing this plan was that I thought it was my best chance at the moment of rebuilding mileage as safely as possible.  So far, it seems to be helping me do that.  As a result, I have been able to run consistently and am starting to feel like I am slowly but steadily regaining fitness.  It is hard to see changes day-to-day, but as these first six weeks have compounded, I have started feeling more confident in my running.
How I am doing so far. Green means I did it, yellow means I did it with some modifications, red means nope.

How I am doing so far. Green means I did it, yellow means I did it with some modifications, and red means nope. Compare to my Google doc! 😉

On Thursday, I wrote that I would be running a 5k the next day and that I thought 27:XX would be difficult for me to achieve given my current level of fitness.  I will be writing a race recap tomorrow, but just to spoil it a little: I ran 27:04 and regrettably had something left in the tank at the end.  That is evidence to me that I am starting to improve again.  My 5k PR is 24:49, which suddenly doesn’t seem so far away anymore.  I’m doing this plan to build a base to hopefully train for a spring 2015 marathon this winter, but a shiny new 5k PR certainly would not hurt… 😉

All in all, I am happy with this training plan so far.  The exciting newness of it has worn off, but of course I am sticking with it and I 100% plan to see it through to the end.  This Saturday will be the first long run of the plan that is over ten miles, so it feels like I am just now moving into the meat of the program.  Additionally, since I have never run longer than a half marathon, I am quickly approaching brand new territory.  I look forward to seeing how the next weeks of the plan play out.

The One Part of Running Club I Still Can’t Quit

Back in May, I wrote a post titled “What Makes a Runner?” in which I mentioned how I quit my college running club after two years of heavy involvement.  Long story short, there were many things that compounded into it not being healthy for me to remain an active member of the club.  I stopped going to practices, removed myself from the email list and Facebook group, and unfriended some of the members on Facebook.  I am significantly happier now.  However, there is one part of the club that I haven’t been able to let go.  Two, if you count how I like racing in the singlets. 😛

The club has a Google document.  “The doc” as it is affectionately called.  One for men and one for women.  Members use it to track their training.  It’s really very simple–there is a collective homepage with people’s names and total mileage from the current training period (e.g. summer), and each runner has her own page on the doc to track her training.  People like to customize it however they want and it can get very silly, which is part of the fun.

I still have a page on the doc.  I like to post my training there.  I like how it is an at-a-glance view of several weeks at once.  I like looking at other people’s training, although I avoid some tabs because I know that reading certain people’s pages will make me angry, annoyed, upset, or jealous.

My page through this week!

My page through this week!

I have thought before about the possibility of simply maintaining my own doc.  I could have the same structure for my page and I could reset it whenever I wanted, instead of on the scheduled reset dates of the club doc.  However, there is something about the community aspect that keeps me on the club doc, even if that is not a community I necessarily want to be a part of offline anymore.  I do still have a few friends in the club and I like to see their training and imagine they might be looking at mine, as well (my roommate does!).  Something about looking at other people’s training logs is fun for me.  Maybe it’s motivating, maybe just interesting, I can’t be sure.  Of course there are sites like Daily Mile, but something about this doc is different.

I think if I were a part of the exact same doc idea with, say, blog friends instead of runners from the club, I would quit the club doc.  For now though, I just don’t want to.  It might be weird when the new school year starts and freshmen get on the doc who have no idea who I am, but I will cross that bridge when I get there.  And hey, I was on the board last year and still didn’t know who some of the people on the Google doc were.  So, whatever. 🙂

This weekend I am going up north for 4th of July weekend and will be running a Firecracker 5k on the 4th!  I’m very excited, even though I am expecting a slow time (27:XX would be GOOD for me right now).  It will be fun to push myself and run in a new place, plus this is only my second race of the YEAR.  Expect a race recap sometime soon after!

Not Wanting to Run vs. Not Feeling Like It

Yesterday, I had a 3-mile run on the schedule.  Simple enough, short, not a problem.  I decided to do it in the evening after work because I was doing laundry in the morning and didn’t have any clean running clothes to wear.

Often when I schedule an evening run, I spend much of my afternoon at work looking forward to it.  However, yesterday, as early as maybe 2 o’clock, I was already starting to think about how I didn’t want to run.  I was tired, I just wanted to be lazy, I had other plans I would rather spend more time on… etc, etc.

I used a lot of mental energy arguing with myself about whether to run.  I knew I was more likely to do the run than to skip it because it was on my schedule and one thing I am pretty good at is sticking to a training plan.  Still, there was probably 30% of me that didn’t want to do it.  Or should I say, didn’t FEEL LIKE doing it.

In the process of eliminating that 30% that said “no, don’t run,” I focused a lot on asking myself whether I didn’t want to run, or whether I just didn’t feel like running.  I WANTED to run because I want to reach my goals.  I’m not going to get faster by skipping scheduled runs because I’m lazy, and I might finish a marathon that way, but it sure as hell won’t be pretty.  No, I just didn’t FEEL LIKE running yesterday.  There is a big difference, at least to me.  In fact, I found myself wishing that I did feel like running.  So, I focused on my goals and on the big picture, I laced up my big-girl shoes, and I ran.

I put it off as long as possible.  I ate dinner as soon as I got home from work a little after five, I took a nap and stayed in bed until seven… and then I got up, got changed, and got out the door faster than I have in a while.  I started really slowly because I wanted to be as comfortable as possible, since I didn’t really feel like being out there.  I figured I would run 10:15s and hope that felt okay in the heat (it was 82).  I texted Matt to tell him that I brought my phone because my heart wasn’t in the run.  He promised to send me plenty of good vibes. 🙂  Apparently he actually sent me a Snapchat, but I didn’t get it until later.

I ended up running into a friend I hadn’t seen in a long while and we ran together for a few minutes before we went our separate ways.  It was nice catching up.  The conversation got my mind off things and I let myself get pulled to run a little faster than I would have on my own.  By the time we split, I was feeling better.

I’m glad I ran.  I could easily have justified skipping the run.  It’s a down week in the training plan anyway, my leg was a little stiff…  But I’m glad I was able to focus on the difference between not wanting to run because I don’t care about reaching my goals (I do care) and not feeling like running on that particular day.

And after, I got to play LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean: The Video Game.