The Return to Running

I was just clicking through my DailyMile logs and discovered that it’s been 22 weeks since I was able to start running again, after a 20-week layoff. I was actually shocked to learn that I’ve been running again longer than I wasn’t, because sometimes I still find myself walking on egg shells so to speak – that post-injury paranoia lingering and confidence taking a long time to re-build.

Hubs and I took the pups on a little trail run on Saturday, my first time off-roading it and risking an uneven surface this year. I put a compression wrap on my “bad” knee and said something along the lines of hoping it would hold up. Hubs’ response was, “There’s nothing wrong with your knee now.” And you know what? He is right!

IMG_1557For six consecutive weeks now I’ve been running ~50K (31mi) weekly mileage with long runs up to 18K (11mi), I’ve stopped avoiding hills, I’ve been incorporating tempo workouts for several weeks and I’ve raced a 10K, all without issue. So why do I still feel so insecure, as though I’m just waiting for the “bad” knee to flare up again? The short answer is that injury can mess with the head as much as the body. I returned to running very conservatively and I’m just realizing now that it has taken all this time (22 weeks!) to start feeling fairly confident that this injury is behind me for now.

All that being said, I wanted to document some “highlights” of my return to running. I had absolutely no races in mind, nor distance targets by a certain date. I was essentially winging it week-to-week, listening to my body and asking hubs’ opinion occasionally even though I knew I was building far more conservatively than he would.

  • My very first run (June 8th) was 2.4km of 1:1 run:walk intervals
  • I gradually increased the running intervals over 7 weeks before running continuously
  • I ran 3x per week for 7 weeks, increasing to 4 in week 8 (I didn’t run 5 days until week 17)
  • I did 5K for the first time in week 5, 6K in week 8, and started adding 1-2K to my “long” run each week after that
  • I ran 15K in week 15 (not planned…) and decided that I didn’t need or want to run too much farther than that any time soon but wanted to focus on making those distances more comfortable; since then I’ve maintained a long run in the 15-18K range (and they are becoming much more comfortable!)
  • In week 16 I tackled my very first “formal” workout (4 x 1000 tempo-ish); since then I have worked up to 4×2000 and 6K continuous, and the pace keeps dropping.
  • I reached 50K mileage in week 17 and decided that would be a good place to hang out for a while to establish a base
  • I raced the 10K at the end of week 20 – unknowingly commemorating that I had officially been running again longer than I hadn’t!

So what’s next? First up, I have another 10K this weekend. I’ve been feeling much stronger so I’m anxious to see some improvement (3 weeks since my last one). I was chatting with a friend this week who is also on the comeback trail and we agreed that there is a great silver lining to coming back from long term injury/down time/laziness/whatever. We get to re-live these milestones all over again, and enjoy this period where fitness seems to be coming back so quickly. I’ve had many fantastic runs recently that would have been just another run this time last year, but now they are OMG AWESOME! and that is pretty neat to experience.

As I move forward in this re-build phase, hopefully gaining confidence and shedding doubts as I go, I have a few ideas for the remainder of this year. I plan to maintain my current weekly mileage and long runs, which I believe will give me a strong base to tackle a more formal training plan again (eeks!) in the new year. I will continue incorporating a workout every week, mostly tempos and hopefully seeing the pace improve at the same effort level. After the 10K this weekend, I have one more race planned – the (94th!!!) Boxing Day Ten Miler. I ran it in 2008 and 2010 and it’s a favourite. I wonder what my legs will be able to do by then?

Until next time!

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6 thoughts on “The Return to Running

  1. The way you handled your injury and return was clearly the right way. It’s great that you are back and can enjoy your running again! You were sensible an it paid off. Enjoy reaching those milestones again…fun!! Love that you were on the trails too….do I see some company in my future at the trail races?

  2. Woot woot! Welcome back, officially. Nothing wrong with playing it safe in our old age though 🙂 I myself am injured again so I’ll get fatter and be envious of you!!

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