The inflammation in my feet has died down and I’ve replaced all of my shoes with rocker bottoms or the like (Dansko for work, Altras for road and trail running), and I’ve made the terrifying leap to try to run again.
Initially, I felt like I was on a rollercoaster over the entirety of my own emotional spectrum: elated to be turning my legs over and self-propelling myself down the sidewalk at more than a crawl; misery at how hard it felt on my legs (Hello, calves!) to try to adjust to a new gait with my new zero drop Altras; nausea since my body was no longer used to moving at that speed in the summer heat and humidity, nor was my stomach ready for all that bouncing; and terror. Terror that I was instantly going to re-injure myself. It felt inevitable. If not this run, surely the next a few days later. Why even bother? I should be spending my time looking for a replacement for the Ragnar Relay, not trying to find peace in the movement, joy and gratitude that I might be able to partake in and enjoy this sport I love so much.
Coming back from an injury is hard. And there’s no guidebook to diagram exactly how to make the perfect transition from the ice baths back to the pavement or trails. There’s no cookie-cutter timeline. It’s trial and error, baby! And while part of me is certainly chomping at the bit to get back to where I was a mere few months ago, I know that the path to longevity is to continue to let my body heal. Let it find it’s own new rhythm as I learn to change my gait; let it strengthen as I slowly incorporate easy trails and small bits of elevation; and above all, listen to it when it needs to slow down, to rest. But take full advantage when it tells me to have fun and go all out!
As someone who owns multiple planners (you know, one for work, one for strength training, one for my race training plans…completely normal), it was a really hard thing to let go of, but I decided to throw away the training calendars and put off qualifying for the CCC for a full year. It hurts, but not as much as re-injuring (or worse) would. The past few weeks – being able to get back on the trails – has been everything. Rediscovering what I love so much about this amazing sport while allowing my body to fully recover and adapt far outweighs any finish line I could possibly cross. Nothing is certain in regards to my injury, and I need to give myself the time and space to figure it all out instead of forcing, rushing and pushing through any more pain. I would much rather never run a competitive race again if it meant I could still get out on the trails and enjoy my time outside in nature. That’s more important to me.
The silver lining to this decision, too, is that I still have this amazing local community to watch and support as they kick total ass at all of their endeavors while I get to cheer and give back! Love my little Tribe.