Thursday, April 18, 2013

Running Smarter (?) : What's Different

I mentioned that I was thinking differently about my running after that nasty tibial stress fracture.  At one point after almost three months on crutches, about the time we were really thinking I'd be heading into surgery sometime soon, Edwin looked at me and said, "I think you'd be crazy to ever run again."  I almost agreed with him at that point!  But one of the many things I learned while injured is that I had really (finally) learned to love running, and I definitely missed that part of my life.

My original training plan for last summer's half marathon has been studied and re-studied, and it was declared to be a reasonable, fine plan.  Theoretically, I did everything right.  And I still ended up with a major injury.  I'm not sure if that is supposed to make me feel better or not!  All I can do now is follow an improved plan, and hope and pray that I can continue to be a longer-distance runner.

Here are some of the things that are different now:

  • This time I will listen to my body a little more closely!  What I gained in mental toughness was lost in time off for an injury that I ignored for too long.  Sometimes vigorous exercise causes pain; I get that.  But I hope that now I can tell the difference between general soreness and pinpoint, severe pain.  Lesson learned. I hope.
  • This time I will not continue to push towards a goal race if, at the last minute, it seems best for me not to run.  I really thought that time off after the race would make everything better.  But the reality is that those extra 13.1 miles surely added to my time on crutches.
  • This time I am cross-training. Really, this time.  I've been riding the exercise bike two or three times a week in addition to running three times, and that's building up my leg strength and adding to my cardiovascular endurance while keeping the weight off of that tibia.  Combine that with listening to my body and that means that some days when I want to run I end up biking because I am feeling that familiar spot on my shin bone a little too much.  And if it ever stops snowing I will really enjoy riding my almost-brand-new bike that's been collecting dust for way too long now!
  • This time I am doing push-ups and a bit of strength work.  I will try to increase this with time, but I am still amazed at how wimpy my upper body was.  The first four weeks on crutches nearly killed me because I was not strong at all.  I'm working on that now.
    Now I can do 10! [From Pinterest]
  • This time I am stretching much more deliberately.  I've always stretched, but I have noticed a difference since I've been timing myself to stretch longer.  And I can tell the next day, so I'm becoming a believer!
  • This time I am trying to breathe differently.  This is hard because I am addicted to running with music, and the breathing advice I am trying to follow is decidedly off-beat.  IN-2-3-OUT-2, IN-2-3-OUT-2, IN-2-3-OUT-2.  I read about it here.  The whole thing is based on the fact that your core is weakest while you are exhaling, and some stress injuries occur because most of us breath in such a way that we are always exhaling while putting weight on our dominant leg.  So the five-count inhale/exhale process means that you exhale on the right leg this time, then the left leg next time.  It's worth a try as far as I'm concerned.  And I am getting used to it.
Well, that's more than enough for now.  I do hope to take an actual outdoor run for the first time in a very long while one of these days soon.  For now we're having an April Blizzard!  One last (I hope) picture of the current view from my front door...
April 18, 2013

Are you still having winter??
Do you love to run on the treadmill like I do??
Do you listen to music when you run??

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