As I type this out, I'm keeping my toes crossed and praying to the running gods so that I don't totally jinx myself by mentioning this ubiquitous topic, the "I" word being injury. It seems, based on two solid weeks of running - including 2 longer-than-60-minute runs - that I am well on my way to recovery! Not that I'm back to full speed and strength, but I can chug along with a pretty low heart rate these days. To be dramatic about it all, this comes as a huge relief for me and I feel a little less desperate about the 26.2 miles following the swim/bike portions of IM CdA. Shew!
I'm certainly not the first nor will I be the last person to deal with an injury during a major training cycle, and I can't say that it came as a huge surprise that I found myself a bit side-lined. It was a major frustration, yes, but when I think about the past few years, I realize that 18 months is the longest healthy stretch I've managed and I don't know how intense my training was during those 18 months. So, no, not really a surprise.
One curious detail - the past two injury cycles, both 'came on' about a week after racing, which makes me wonder about my approach to training and/or racing. While plantar fasciitis was frustrating, it also seemed to progress along in a predictable fashion and I could easily tell how I was doing based on the pain when I first got out of bed in the morning. This time around, I had quad tendonitis which did not manifest itself during most activities (walking, swimming, biking, skipping, jumping) but within 10 minutes of a run that started out without any pain, I would find myself hobbling along. For much of February, I would begin each run with an optimistic attitude, thinking "This is the one! I know that I'm better!" and the runs did get a little longer and then a little longer, but there wasn't a moment when I was immediately better, much to my frustration.
Fortunately, I continued to see Dr. Choy, whom I discovered last year for Active Release Therapy and is my go-to guru whenever I have weird aches and pains or crazy tightness. I've continued to see him for occasional tune-ups, but I became a regular patient for about a month there. Seeing him not only helped me out physically but also mentally - he assured me that things were progressing and that I just needed to be patient. He also kept encouraging me to run (not to the point of trauma, but to see where I was/how the pain was/when it set on), even when I felt like resigning myself to the elliptical for the next 4 months.
I've also been quite cautious with my pace, not pushing too much, and also the terrain, sticking primarily to trails for almost all of my runs at this point. Saturday took me on a nice group run, and I even went a bit further than expected. Coming back, I crossed paths with a VERY healthy looking coyote! That was an unexpected encounter!
In addition to running mainly on trails, I've developed a love/hate relationship with ice baths - they hurt so much but then my legs feel so good afterwards! Finally, I have tried to keep my eye on the long-term goal rather than my short-term reality. While my pace feels slow to me, it is probably faster than the pace at which I'll run the CdA course. If I have to stop to stretch or walk a bit, it does not stress me out. And, I am just happy that I can run these days, as slow as I'm going!