First of all, I hope you're enjoying the holidays, and eating plenty of "running fuel," as I like to call it. Interpret that as you will.
In reference to the title of the post, I recently had both a breakthrough and a setback all in the same run. This was a week ago Tuesday (Dec. 20th), when I set out on my weekly "long" run. Up to that point, 5 miles was as far as I had ventured. On this day, as I finished 5 and still felt fresh and without any sign of injury-related pains, I continued for another mile, to record my longest run since August of 2010 (when I ran 12 miles, then went on a very long-term disabled list).
I posted with excitement on Daily Mile how great it felt to run 6 miles. Sure, it's only a mile longer than the 5 I had been doing, but in my mind it was a mini breakthrough; being nearly a 10k.
Well, it didn't take long for the repercussions to appear. My lower right Achilles tendon was very sore for several days. I went for a "dog jog" the next day, then a 5k run last Thursday (the first 2 miles very slowly w/my daughter, with a still slow 3rd mile), during which I felt pretty lifeless. My breathing issues were still a problem (I really think I have allergies related to our dog. Guess I need to get tested). The ache persisted, so I skipped my Saturday morning club run.
I walked the neglected pup on Christmas night, after which my right knee really acted up. What the heck?! Any running "mojo" I felt I had gained from my 6-miler was completely gone.
Yesterday I struggled through what should have been an easy 45 minute spin on the trainer. Ugh. Today, I decided to see if I could sneak some fast half miles into a 4-miler. After a warmup mile, I ran three hard half miles (3:33, 3:30, 3:27) followed by 3 easy half miles after each one. It was tough, but I felt pretty good, in terms of breathing and body aches.
Lesson? Stay the course for now, by which I mean don't try adding more distance just yet. And when I start feeling run down, ease up. This whole process of "coming back" as a runner looks like it will be a very long-term process. That's okay, though. I've got plenty of time, Lord willing ;-)