Well, that was unexpected – when a brief break from running turns into something much longer

When I crossed the finish line of the Run for the Toad 50K ultra Oct. 4, I knew that was going to be the last run for me for the rest of the month. My body – and mind, to be honest – needed a break. Although I loved training for the ultra throughout the summer, by September I was feeling decidedly uninspired, unmotivated and just ready to run it. I also knew my body had been through a lot in 2014 – training for Boston, getting injured, running Boston, training for a half-marathon PB, and now my first 50K . It was time to rest, and I was completely OK with that and even a little excited to recharge and come back in November ready and eager to run again.

Only, that’s not what happened. I enjoyed October’s break (well, kind of – there was one particularly gorgeous sunny Saturday where my dad was going out for a 6K run and my mom almost literally had to sit me down and stop me from joining him, sans orthotics, just a week out from the ultra, but what can I say? It seems a crime not to take advantage of beautiful fall running weather!), had fun with friends, went out drinking a couple times, and just generally loosened up from my more rigid training schedule, which is always a good thing to do and I know something I should do more often.

Cheering my dad on at his first 8K - way to go!

Cheering my dad on at his first 8K – way to go!

But when November rolled around and I excitedly went to lace up my shoes, I realized…I was injured. Yep, that month off running, meant to allow my body to rest and recover, actually resulted in plantar fasciitis in my right heel from not wearing orthotics in my regular, non-running shoes. Ouch! So that was fun. And then on top of that, some random pain in my left quad kept me from running even after the plantar fasciitis was OK to run on.

I’m *just* getting back to running now, 2.5 months later. And I say that with a lot of trepidation! I don’t want to jinx anything. I went for my first pain-free, longer run today that’s also been the longest distance I’ve done since the 50K – 8.6 miles, on the soft trails by my apartment.

This is my happy place.

This is my happy place.

Up until today, my longest pain-free runs had been two miles. Anything more than that, and I’d feel sharp pain in my quad, so I’d back down and take a week off before trying again. Then last weekend, I had a 10K race I had signed up for a long time ago with my running friend Mary Anne. I was in that agonizing limbo every runner finds themselves in sooner or later – do I race and potentially make this injury worse, or do I miss out on the race experience, the race fee and the race shirt and medal? (let’s be honest, a big part of why we do races is the swag at the end, right?)

Anyway, I’ll recap the race later but I will say now that it wasn’t as painful as I was preparing for. My leg felt…maybe 65% normal? And my heel felt fine, although a couple days later I wore winter boots without orthotics (they don’t fit in!) to walk the short distance to work and my heel has been bothering me ever since. So I’m kinda resigning myself to having to wear my running shoes to church on Christmas Eve haha…because seriously, right now they and my Birkenstocks are the only shoes with the support I need for my heel.

I’m easing back into running very slowly, and even though I’m ecstatic at today’s pain-free longer run, I know I can’t push it too fast or too soon. The pool has been a fantastic alternative this past month, especially, and I’ve resumed physio for my quad. I’ve been itching to do some speed workouts or really long runs, but I’ve got to be happy with slow and steady for now. And honestly, I really am fine with that. I just missed running so much, and today’s time on the trails was good for my soul.

But if I’m asking Santa for anything this Christmas, it’s for an injury-free 2015! (and a half-marathon and marathon PB would be nice too, but I’m willing to put the work in for those!)

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