Running Can Be Tough Love

So, training has taken a little turn downhill — not quite literally, just figuratively. Things we’re going great up until about three weeks ago. I was pretty much enjoying each run and scheduling my workouts the week before so I wouldn’t miss a beat and could still squeeze some group classes in, like Pilates or barre or some hardcore strength training. (I’m still doing this — it seriously helps maintain a full workout schedule and full-time job. One of my fave fitness additions so far was Body Space Fitness, a circuit workout that had my muscles burning.)

However! Three weeks ago, I was doing some sneaker testing for work (I’ll link out to the review soon, so you can see why we test and what for). I got a bunch of running shoes and decided I would wear a pair for my 8-miler to really see if they lived up to other reviews. Now, I’ve always had some issues with my knees. Before my very first half marathon, I started having IT band problems and had to see a physical therapist because I couldn’t run for even 10 minutes without it hurting too much to push through. But ever since going to the PT and switching my sneaks to Asics, I’ve been basically pain-free. (Asics honestly adds a bounce to my step and cushions my foot in all the right spots — they just have that magic formula down.) But around mile 4 of the 8, I could feel a little soreness in my knee which only got worse as I finished up my run. (You should know I have a very hard time not finishing a long run, even if I’m in pain. I know, I know. I’m stubborn.) And now, I still have that ache lingering. Unfortunately, it’s also messing with my mentality a little bit. Mostly because I’m frustrated that my body is the part that’s holding me back, because that’s the part I’m not totally sure how to address on my own.

See, my mind has loved running lately. I honestly wish my body could keep up with how good I feel trekking up, down and around NYC. It’s such a great way to see the city; I love feeling like a real runner and I’m so into how accomplished it makes me feel afterward. But that’s when I get frustrated with my body backing down on me. I feel great mentally — the part that I thought would be most challenging —  and I even feel strong cardiovascular-wise. It’s just my mechanics that are off. I’m pretty sure I’m back to having an IT band issue (it’s in my right leg this time; last time it was the left) and will have to go to the PT again.

This isn’t to say that all my runs since three weeks ago have gone terribly. I ran to work one morning to cover a mid-week 6-miler and headed over the Queensboro bridge from Astoria to Flatiron, and I loved it. I loved that my body could carry me to work, that I got my run done in the morning and that I didn’t have to spend money on the subway or deal with a crowded train. It was just me, my thoughts (or my musics, really) and the sidewalk. I’ve also ran with the Nike+ Run Club crew and Resident Runners at Under Armour. I’ve just been having to give myself a real pep talk before tackling anything over 4 miles, in prep for any aches I’ll feel along the way and just how sad and frustrated those aches make me feel.

I do know it’s a part of the process. I once read (or heard in a podcast maybe?) someone say that all runners are injured; it’s just a matter of how injured they are whether they need to do something about it. But dammit, I want to be one of those people who only deals with a few aches and pains here and there that I can just push through. And maybe that’ll change (I’m hoping tomorrow’s long run goes surprisingly well).

I did back off my mileage this week, because of the pain. I swapped Monday and Friday runs for biking sessions. That way, I still got the cardio in, but gave my legs a break in prep for tomorrow’s 14 miler — the longest distance I’ll have gone in my life so far. The good news: I’m meeting two friends (and Team Asics members) who are going to do at least 10 of those 14 miles with me. Though they are much speedier than me, I’m hoping I can keep up at least for a little while. Wish me luck!!

I also have a chat set up with Coach Andrew Kastor next week, which I’m pretty pumped about. He’s trained lots of athletes, from beginners to Olympians. So I’m super excited to pick his brain and find out what kind of tips he has for helping my body catch up to my mental stamina, and addressing my frustrations too. I promise to report back on how that goes.

Here’s to hoping tomorrow’s long run goes well and I’m back soon to tell you how well everything is going again 🙂

(PS, I would have posted a picture of my view from the bridge on the way to work. But my computer email keeps crashing and it’s late and this girl has to get up to RUN early. So I’ll post some other cool pics next time!)