At last, I have the freedom to run. Last Saturday marked the final walk/run session of my recovery program in returning from a foot injury.
I’m now pain-free and plan-free, which means I must rely on feel while keeping in mind the many the lessons I’ve learned over the past couple of years. In doing this, I’ll keep myself on the right path and eventually work my mileage up. For the next two weeks, I’ll be slowly easing into runs longer than 30 minutes and will be bumping up the pace a little bit here and there. By the end of the month, my hope is that I’m ready to get into another training block.
Sounds easy enough, right? Well, that may be true but my experience informs me that these next weeks actually require a great deal of effort to stay controlled and not push too hard. This means not getting carried away mid-run or taking off into race pace, or flying down hills. It means not looking at my watch and being taunted by the splits when I know they could be faster.
As runners, many of us are wired to push the limits, feel the edge, and find that place where we’re comfortably uncomfortable. Under ideal, healthy circumstances this isn’t a bad thing. Having the ability shift into that “go-get’ em” gear goes a long way during certain segments of training, and, when controlled, is even more of an asset on race day. So, the question then becomes, can I control it? The answer is yes, I can, but the caveat is consistency.
It’s one thing to control myself through these next couple of weeks, which I think given my healthy fear of re-injuring myself, I’ll be able to do without much convincing. However, it’s another thing entirely to keep that control once I’m back into the full swing of training. So, the plan is to take it one day at a time, to not get overly focused on what comes after these two weeks and to be grateful that I’m simply able to run again.
Naturally, as I continue to feel stronger, my mind is starting to play with timelines to figure out when a marathon may be possible. I’m giving myself the freedom to noodle these thoughts around but I’m being careful not to marry myself to anything right now. Experience has shown me that I can become hyper-focused too early on and burn myself out. In this case, coming back from an injury, I can’t even come close to toying with getting dialed in a specific goal or I know it’ll only be a matter of time before I’m back on the sidelines.
For now, I’ll take to the trails with a soft pace, and calm mind allowing myself to imagine of the days to come when I’m flying down the hills and finding my edge once again.