It’s been about four weeks since my DNF. Four weeks and a half weeks since the ankle sprain that started it all. Am I back 100%? Well, yes and no. My ankle is at that 90 to 95% back-to-normal place. The swelling is minimal to nonexistent (I can’t tell anymore if I”m seeing things, even staring back and forth between my uninjured right and ankle and the healing left one). There is zero pain – when bearing weight, making strides, both walking and running. The flexibility isn’t all the way back, but seems to get incrementally better every day. It’s a slow, grueling process, but I’m going to keep on keeping on.
So what have I been up to?
First two weeks
For two weeks, I didn’t run a step. I knew I would take at least a week off and try to evaluate from there, but keeping a close eye on things, I decided two full weeks off were what I needed. In fact, for the first five days or so, I did basically nothing. NF took me through some ankle exercises using a resistance band, but I did zero cardio, zero strength, zero Pilates/yoga. I was pretty much an emo kid, whiling away my time working and mulling over the DNF and injuring, fielding question after question about the marathon: “How did it go?” “Did your race go well?” “Oh, that’s too bad… how’s the ankle now?” “Hey, I haven’t seen you in a week – how was your marathon?”
And on, and on.
By week two, I was back in action. Not running of course, but working out most days. I made it back to Pilates. I rode the bike, took it easy in spin class, even managed the elliptical (easy effort, and very carefully). In addition to the resistance band exercises, I added in calf raises, body weight only: two sets with both feet, then two more sets going up on both feet, then lowering slowly on one. After that, I’d do running strides to land on one leg: do a little ply jump to land on a single leg, hold a couple seconds, then return. 30 repetitions on each side. To wrap up, I did 60-second balances on the bosu ball on one leg. These were HARD, and worked every part of my leg. I”m getting better the more I do them, but am still noticeably better on the right side than the left. I think these exercises are ones that should always be in my strength arsenal. They not only keep my ankle strong, but work my calves, quads, glutes, and hips.
I still needed my outdoor fix, though, so I took care of that with hiking. The first weekend, NF, my friend Ellen and I went on a short hike/walk in Frick Park on a beautifully sunny but chilly day. The colors were peaking – it was magnificent.
The following weekend, NF and I headed up to McConnell Mills and managed a 6.5ish mile hike on the beautiful, technical trails. I was highly aware of my ankle, and wondered about my plan to start running again a couple days after. It felt sore, but didn’t hurt except for a couple missteps I took, though that pain dissipated quickly. We turned around early than I had hoped on our out-and-back hike, but I didn’t want to play games with it. It was a slow, leisurely hike, so I was still on my feet a good three-and-a-half hours, so it was still a really good workout and test for my ankle.
Weeks 3 to 4: return to running!
By Monday, I was itching to run, but knew I had to be smart. I walked to the gym that morning, did a 10 minute walking warm-up on the treadmill, then a super easy 2 mile jog, mostly at 10:00 mile pace, 2% grade to reduce impact. Normally I hate the treadmill, and running at a constant pace and incline drives me particularly batty, but I was so happy to be running again, it barely mattered. I was giddy the rest of the day.
The next day, I did almost the same, with a bit more speed at the end, for just over 2 miles of running. Both days, I did my full ankle regimen to make sure I was keeping my up strength and working on getting that mobility back.
On Thursday, after nixing a morning run by being a whiney brat about the cold – especially since the evening forecast was MUCH better – I went for a post-work 4ish miler, staying very close to home for my first outdoor run since the DNF. I also wanted to try out some new Oiselle duds I’d gotten for my birthday – which I had refused to even open or look at until I was able to run again. Worth the wait! In love with the Flyte long sleeve and Lesley knickers (though the latter won’t see many workouts for a few more months as it appears winter is here to stay).
And since then? Well, I’ve been slowly building my mileage back. On my birthday, I went for a 5.6ish mile run in Schenley Park with my friend Kelly, while NF and our friend Mark crushed it up ahead. We stayed back and let the boys duke it out while we chatted up a storm. We started and ended the run at Bagel Factory, getting coffee and bagels after and continuing to run-geek like crazy. I was in a terrific mood the rest of the day, high off a great run with friends.
On Tuesday, I went for a 6-mile run in the early darkness with Danielle, whom I met through the local racing scene, and who has pushed me to more than one PR already, before we even “officially” met.” We had a great time, and I probably pushed a bit, but felt great after. Ankle seemed a tad swollen that evening, but was fine by the next morning and I haven’t seen that happen since. I kept Thursday and Fridays runs short, and NF and I went out for 7 on Saturday (WHOOPS ran three days in a row).
Week 5 – almost time to streak!
I finally feel like I’m really back in action. Sure, still not 100% flexible, but zero pain, and my runs have felt great. I’m also cross-training a ton: keeping up with Pilates (mostly – ignore the fact that I skipped class tonight and am instead blogging. WHOOPS), and especially getting back into a weights routine. I ran an easy 6 miler in the falling snow this morning – it was quiet and perfect. I overtook a couple of women running together at one point, and as they let me pass, one of them said, “Let’s let this *real* runner go past us.” I countered, “*You guys* are real runners. You’re out here in this, too!” I saw way fewer runners than usual for the 5:30 to 6:30 a.m. crowd, but the ones I saw made me smile. As did the folks I saw actually putting salt on their driveways and sidewalks. Thank you!
Tomorrow I”m taking a full rest day – MAYBE doing yoga – since it’ll be my last day off until January 2. Yes, I’m going to give the Runner’s World Holiday Run Streak the ol’ college try. Maybe this is dumb coming off an ankle sprain, but I don’t plan on being stupid about it. If I need to change it to a be-active-every-day-from Thanksgiving-til-New-Year’s-Day because by body is saying NO!!! to all the running, I absolutely will do so. But I have a good feeling, especially if I do a lot of one-mile days, and especially if I take it easy and do it on the treadmill, which makes getting my cross-training and weights in those days a lot easier. I hope to blog semi-frequently during the streak, but the holidays may keep my posts either short or infrequent (or both). I will do my best?
Anyone else doing the RW Run Streak? First timers? Seasoned veterans – have any tips?