If you've followed my running adventures recently, you know that I'm fighting a heel (and, now it seems, ankle) injury. I took the first three weeks of June completely off. I went through four weeks of physical therapy (and just got the bill...holy crap!) I'm still in the process of easing back into running. It's been a struggle, and I'm not just talking about the heel (which has its good days and bad days). Since I was running upwards of 50+ miles a week during my marathon buildup, I've continued to eat...and eat...and eat...at the same intake level as I was then. Consequently, I've put on some weight. Admittedly, I'm still underweight by non-runner standards, but I definitely notice it when I'm running. I ran my first race last weekend since a) the marathon and, b) the injury. While my wife scolds me for saying I'm not happy with my time, I still contend that it wasn't a reflection of what I SHOULD be able to run right now. Add to that a hot 8-miler that I ran yesterday, which was my longest post-injury run. The nine minute miles I was clicking off felt much harder than they should have, and my right hip & heel were barking at me a good bit of that run. My heart rate was high, too. Yes, I'm out of shape.
I spent seventeen months of my "running resurrection" basically injury-free. That doesn't necessarily mean that I was "due" for an injury, but I've never gone that long without one. It has set me back in more than one respect (as I mentioned above). The question is, how am I going to deal with it mentally? How am I going to handle NOT being able to put in the mileage and speedwork that I'd love to be currently running? How will I cope with the fact that I'll most likely be letting my Ragnar teammates down next weekend (in my mind, anyway) because I'm unable to bust out a good race pace right now?
I put a lot of pressure on myself...which is silly, frankly, since I'm a recreational runner. One that likes to compete...but definitely not a "contender" at races.
I've struggled with these thoughts the past couple of weeks. I've finally decided that this is just a down cycle in my running. I'm giving in to it, rather than fighting it. If I run slow, nobody is going to go hungry because of it. Nobody will lose sleep over it. Nobody will die of cancer because of it. It's a good opportunity to let my mind and body spin down and get ready to ramp back up later this year, when it's ready. I have a habit of forcing things - especially when it comes to running - so choosing this mindset is out of character for me. But I know it'll make the whole process more enjoyable and take a lot of self-imposed pressure off.
And if I get lucky and run a good race here and there, it'll be icing on the cake.
(Man, that was a serious post. I'll resist the urge to make a fart joke to lighten the mood.)