Hi friends! I hope you’ve had an awesome weekend. Since I last checked in with 2017 goals, my body had other plans. I was just getting into the rhythm with running again, slowly but surely, and I was hit with a nasty cold and a side of pink eye. Meaning my travel plans to visit my brother, sister-in-law and niece in Ohio got derailed. Again.
I was pretty bummed the last few days about missing out on family time and feeling generally crappy but I’m starting to turn the corner, thank goodness. I’ve been thinking a lot about rest and how little we slow down in the chaotic day-to-day. I’m one of those hyper self-aware people that never lets things pass without analyzing what it means, how I’m feeling, and why I’m feeling that certain way. A blessing and often a curse. So when I start running for the first time after 8 weeks off and proceed to get pink eye as an otherwise healthy adult, I can’t help but draw some meaning from it. I determined my body basically said, “Good try. You’re not ready yet.” Like she knew I might get carried away with the green light to run and forced my butt back on the couch for a heavy serving of Netflix.
I did absolutely zero physical activity for four days last week, and I needed it. It’s weird now to think about needing rest when I compare my activity level today with life pre-injury. I used to work out six times a week and ran anywhere from 40-60 miles with one full rest day. I felt great so I never would have chosen to take a couple days off consecutively. I couldn’t imagine what it would be like to take two months of running entirely. I feared losing fitness, I feared my body changing, and I feared stepping outside my normal routine.
Now I don’t really have a routine aside for aiming to lift weights at least twice a week. I’m not allowed to run more than 2 days a week, and I’m running for 2 minutes at a time followed by 1 minute of walking and repeat that a few times. I walk the stadium stairs once a week and that pretty much sums up my exercise. I’m also in bed for at least 9 hours each night. (Note: “in bed” but not sleeping…my sleep is still terrible.) And yet, my body still demanded I take it even easier than usual.
And here’s the beautiful thing about feeling like crap last week – I didn’t care that I missed workouts. My injury has completely shifted my perspective on what true rest really means. True rest isn’t a “shakeout run” or “just half a stadium.” Now I don’t fear “losing fitness” with a few days off because 1) I don’t have a huge base to lose, let’s be real, but 2) I trust my body now.
We all have that voice that always knows better. Not the inner critic that tells you you can’t run the last rep, but the one that knows when that ache could be an injury. When you need to rest. When you need to have snack even if you just ate dinner. When you need to leave the bar before everyone else because you’re simply done. Like last night when I decided to leave a friend’s party long before a socially acceptable time because I just didn’t feel great for a number of reasons.
Then there are nights like New Years Eve when I was having such a blast and didn’t leave until the bar closed. Balance, my friends.
So when I laced up my shoes to go on my second post-injury run yesterday, a few days later than I had hoped, I enjoyed every minute of it. Sure, I was still a little congested, but I didn’t feel a single pain. It was the first time I’ve done anything physical and not thought the entire time about how my foot was feeling. I focused on my breath and my cadence because I’m trying to improve my form. My only goal was simply to get to the BU Bridge, pain-free, so I could enjoy this view.
I stopped for a few minutes just to take it in – something else I would rarely do before this injury. The last time I drove over this bridge I teared up because I missed running so much. Running is my strongest connection to Boston and always felt like our quality time together. There’s no way I was going to let this moment I’ve dreamed about for 9 weeks pass in a few footsteps.
Sure, I’ve lost my endurance. I’ve lost my speed. But I think I’ve gained a few things along the way. I now trust that a few days off is more than ok. Hell, a few weeks. I trust that my body won’t change too much and knows exactly what it’s doing. Real talk: I think I’ve gained 3 pounds during this injury. Three. That’s nothing. It could even be muscle. Keep in mind this is free pounds from my weight at my peak week of training when I was running 60+ miles a week. It’s insane to me that my weight has only varied by a few pounds given that drastic difference in exercise. But what a powerful thing to see my body settle at a natural weight living fairly intuitively – eating what I crave whether that’s a salad or a burger, exercising when it feels right, and filling my life with more joy.
So this is my testament to tuning in and being a little kinder to our bodies. Rest a little more. Move how you want to. Surround yourself with people who share the same commitment to treat themselves well. (P.S. if you aren’t reading my dear friends Britto and Jenna’s blogs yet, get on that.)
Injuries are terrifying for any runner. We’re afraid of set backs and getting off our routines. Many of us have body image challenges. And even more of us fear rest. But trust me, listen to that voice that knows a lot better than our “do all the things” instinct. You might even catch something before it becomes an injury. While I never had one foot pain before my stress reaction, I did know that my sleep and stress were real issues that could manifest physically and yet I ran full steam ahead. Now I like to think that I’m a hell of a lot nicer to myself, and this will pay off in so many ways once I’m running fully again. It’s going to be a slow process, but hey, I’m used to moving a bit slower now
Have a great week!