I felt like a teenager trying to sneak out. As I quietly stumbled around my dark room this morning, trying so hard not to wake John, I began to get the pieces I needed out of my drawers. A sports bra, running socks, and tights, followed by a trip to the closet for a long sleeve running shirt, fleece pull over and my new reflective vest that I had yet to wear. And then came my new running shoes that I had only worn twice. I tiptoed into the bathroom and got dressed. Standing there, looking in the mirror, I noticed that I looked a little different in my running tights than I did last winter or maybe I just wasn't used to the winter look yet. Regardless, I stood there for a second staring at what I hadn't seen in such a long time. In the grand scheme of an injury, six weeks is not a long time. But to a running addict, it is a lifetime. I walked over to John's side of the bed and tapped him. He looked up and said "I thought you weren't going to..... oh nevermind, be careful." He pulled the covers back over his head and turned over. He has been trained quite well.
Yesterday I had my first good run, or "breakthrough" since the marathon. I ran two miles on the treadmill at the gym and had no pain.... this is different from my trail run in the park. I did feel what I would consider a dull ache (though I hate to even use that term because it indicates pain) but it would not even have a place on my 1-10 pain scale. I think it is just a bit sensitive in that area, but I believe things have healed. I also believe they may be a bit fragile, which was why I stopped at two miles when I so wanted to go three. Easing back into it is the name of the game. No speedwork or hills for a few more weeks, but I will begin running on the treadmill. That was yesterday's plan.
I waited all day for the familiar "ache" that I was sure would accompany my treadmill run. It never came. Up and down the steps, cleaning and decorating for Christmas. Nothing. Again, so different from my trail run. I made sure I rolled my calf and stretched really well yesterday. I have been diligently doing all the things I feel will help get me back to running sooner. I 100% believe they are working. Often times, we feel better and we stop doing all interventions... then we feel bad again. I'm not going to do that this time.
This morning I couldn't help myself. The running addict took over and the voice of reason stayed quite. I decided I would do my flat 4 mile run to the library and back. I would go easy and back off if I felt like it was too much. I slipped on my Garmin (clue number 1 that my intention was not to go easy) and headed out the door for my first run of the season with running gloves and a headband for warmth. First thing I noticed was the brilliant sky and all the stars. I felt the cold air on my face and noticed the Christmas lights that many neighbors had put up and left on all night. It was beautiful. I was also keenly aware of my left calf, trying to be completely in tuned to how it was feeling. It felt very similar to the day before. I had a nice easy warm-up mile and the calf stayed status quo. Without realizing it, I was beginning to run a bit faster... probably because I was well caffeinated and warmed up. Miles 2 and 3 were wonderful and swift. I felt like the runner I was before the marathon. By the 4th mile, I think my body started to remember that it had been awhile so I slowed the pace and cruised on home. Once home, I took my walking cool down lap around the circle. The calf felt ok. I may have pushed it a bit too much too soon during those two middle miles, but once inside and nicely stretched, rolled and compressed, I am feeling nothing. I've popped a few vitamins (ibuprofen... which is probably what requires me to take Prilosec on a daily basis) and now I just wait to see what comes from this run. I hope I am reasonable enough to realize I should not be doing this every day. I hope I have enough good sense and restraint to stick to a few treadmill runs only this week and not flirt with what could cause another big setback. I will try to recall how awesome it felt to be out there again and realize just how much I do not want to screw it up!