Summer Running

I decided that today was the appropriate day to pen an update on my running, as I was able to complete my longest run since February’s DNF. My heart spilled over with gratitude this morning while I followed the running routes that I’ve missed so much these last few months. To recap, I essentially took the months of February & March off, though I did begin to hit the elliptical and weights more regularly sometime in late March. Many hours were spent on the eliptical during the month of April and I dilligently completed twice-weekly strength sessions. I also logged a few pavement miles, but was relegated to running once every other day. Unfortunately, I was still experiencing a fair amount of pain. I also spent more time than I’d like to admit thinking about missing the Boston Marathon for the first time since 2013, and also missing out on the Boston 2 Big Sur Challenge. I look forward to those two events all year long, but I killed the pity party and began to focus on moving forward.

May was an off-and-on month and I missed another one of my usual races, the OC Marathon. I did register for the half marathon, but decided that I wasn’t ready and skipped it. I was indifferent at this point. I didn’t even care about ever doing a race again or ever running “fast” again;  I just wanted to be able to head out for a few 4-6 milers during the week. The monotony of the elliptical was becoming unbearable. I deeply craved the freeing feeling of running, ocean air and sound tickling my senses while traversing the beach path, and of course the runner’s high.

Regarding the actual injury: my knee (which was the issue leading up to and during the Surf City Marathon) was healed by mid-April. The new injury was a very “achy” feeling in my right anterior shin. I’m still not entirely of the origin of pain, but noticed that a very specific stretch combined with a leg swing drill helped tremendously. I started to figure it out when I would set out for a run with pain, stop to stretch + drill, and continue the run with significantly less pain. Based on the stretch + drill, I deduced that there was some sort of tightness or muscle knots on or around my iliotibial band (IT band). I never chased a diagnosis from a medical professional, but the injury seems to be improving based on trial-and-error experimentation.

The stretch

The drill

As May turned into June, I was able to run longer and more often, but I still wasn’t out of the woods. Some runs would be mostly pain-free with other runs being extremely difficult. The leg pain + being out of running shape = the difficult ones sucked. Having survived the injury/healing cycle a few times, I know that the first few weeks of re-building running fitness involve a lot of labored breathing and mental games. I am delighted to report that I am currently running every single day and feeling better with each mile. As long as I stretch thoroughly and complete the leg swing drill before each run, the pain is minimal (though still present). I really hope that I am 100% pain-free by July.

I’ve theorized on why my body was falling apart February through May and believe that stress was a large factor. My family recently experienced a big change: my dad retired and moved from Brawley to Long Beach. The transition required a lot of work on both my sister and I’s parts. She traveled from the bay area to Brawley many times to help him clean, pack and prepare while I secured an apartment and set everything up for him here in Long Beach. It’s weighed heavily on my mind for the last few months, but my dad is finally here and settling into his new environment. I think that eliminating that stressor has played a part in my expedited healing.

Though I enjoy a year-round summer in Long Beach, Wednesday marked the first official day of summer. I’m looking forward to some great summer running and flag football playing. Yes, I’m trying a non-running sport! It comes as no surprise that I am supremely terrible at football, but the league, my team, and learning the sport has been very fun. Up next is the 4th of July and then… who knows what summer magic awaits!

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