Christina is a guest writer for The Running World According to Dean. This is the sixth in a series of articles on her experiences with surgery and recovery. I hope her insights and candidness will ring true for many of you as well as keep your hopes high for any recoveries or comebacks you may be enduring. We’ll be with her every step through her journey to recovery. She’s back running her first steps!
Today according to my running schedule I’m running 12 miles for my long run giving me a little over 30 miles for the week. At some point soon, I need to revise my running schedule for having taken six weeks off. Six weeks off and I don’t feel like I’ve accomplished that much in all my downtime. Sure, I’ve filled the time but am I more peaceful? Have I completed more chores around the house? Can’t say that I have. If you haven’t read it yet, read Dean’s blog dated 7/27. It talks about building character through the course of your failures. When things aren’t going right, it’s really easy to focus on the negatives and the failures in life. And of course, if you’re looking for something you’ll find more of it. I am optimistic though since the doctor said I could try running. I know it won’t be easy or pain free but it will be running. I can feel a bounce already in my step knowing that I will go out for a run soon.
Three miles. An easy three miles is what I set out to run. Why three miles? Because that is the loop around my house of course. And in my mind, it doesn’t make sense to run less than 3 miles. If it’s less than my 3 mile loop, then why run? My first heel strike caused a grimace but it wasn’t overly painful; but what was noticeable and a surprise was my right ankle hurt. I ran about 100 yards, stopped, walked, did circles with my ankles and started to jog again. When you have an injury, you compensate somewhere. You don’t know you’re doing it until it becomes aggravated enough that you feel the discomfort. So obviously my ankle was compensation from the five weeks of being on crutches and walking funny. By the end of my run I definitely felt like I hadn’t run for five weeks and I had compensated for my sore heel and had a blister on my bad foot and my left calf was cramping. It didn’t really matter to me through. I was running. Did I try running too soon? Or did I wait too long to start running again? There are no answers and if I try and logically answer them, all I’ll do is create confusion for myself.
The cramped left calf became very problematic later than evening and for the next three days. It seems that my compensation, not just for my short run but also for the last five weeks, had shortened the muscles in my calf. Walking around on my toes really had an impact. I met with coach Dean and was adequately scolded for running three miles, as compared to a healthy mile to get acclimated again. [DH – OK, I think I told her to alternate jogging and walking for a mile or two and stop before the cramping in her calf set in. Note below, that is what she did when she came to the track.] Running three miles and being forced to take the next four days off was a detriment to my running as compared to trying to run one or two miles a couple times that week. The accumulated mileage for the week would have been greater had I been smarter.
On the 4th day, being a glutton for punishment, I went to the track to run with the club. I wasn’t going to do a workout. But I decided to run my laps with strength exercises in-between laps once I was around others. I started off my first lap running with Kathy and figured I would be able to keep up. What I found is that I couldn’t keep up and my calf was cramping again after 300 meters. I finished one mile by doing 50 meter increments of jogging and walking. It was very discouraging but I was making progress. I had to work through the cramps and the discomfort but I was at least moving forward.