Reflections of a Recovering Runner

comeback01Slow.  Weak.  Broken.  Scared.

These are the words that describe me when it comes to prepping for and going out for any sort of run.  Whether it’s a race or a training run…or just an easy fun run to shake off a bad day or a extended period sitting…or even just an excuse to stretch the legs.  I feel like my mind has to work overtime anymore for fear of, frankly, damaging myself again.

Where once I would have used words like…Confident.  Strong.  Fast.  Free…to describe myself as a runner, I can’t seem to see that anymore in my running, my reflection, my ability.

Every run…is a mental and physical struggle for me.  I have to think about everything and still attempt to run…well.

Note the phrasing…attempt to run well.

Because every step I take on a run, I have to listen to the signals my body is sending me.  Does my hip hurt?  If so, is it because of speed…or incline…or form?  If so, am I overcompensating with the other leg?  Does anything else hurt.  Are my feet falling quickly and softly.  Is my cadence even?  Am I leaning back?  Am I heel striking?

It sort of takes the joy out of lacing up those shoes and going out.  PLUS…before I even get started, I have about 30 minutes of necessary PT exercises and warm-ups, and those are usually a good gauge as to how any sort of run is going to feel.  If my leg lifts hurt…you better believe my run is going to hurt.  And then the brain starts working overtime, doubting myself, thinking I’m just going to end up sidelined again.  Wondering…is it all really worth it?  What happens when the activity that you used to do so easily, freely, and with so much joy…mentally and physically drains you?

You press on!   Or at least, that’s what I do.

When it was bitterly cold, when there was snow, when it rains…I’m out on that sidewalk in front of my apartment doing all the plyometrics and warm-up exercises that my physical therapist assigned me.  Why?  Because taking another year off to recover from injury doesn’t sound appealing at all.  In fact, it scares me.  I have gone through a year of hardships, trials, and a lot of pain…and my journey is not over yet.  That being said, I’m not one to give up either.

What brings this up?  Well…tomorrow is one of my favorite races to participate in.  I had to miss it last year as I was…running the Boston Marathon.  Injured.  So, I would have had to miss it regardless…but…I have a history with this little 5K.

The Pro.Active For Life 5K is in its 10th year running.  And I have run it in 2012, 2013, and 2014.  In each one…I have placed in my age division and/or as one of the top 3 female finishers.  And…it is my PR 5K race.

And tomorrow, for the first time, I’m actually nervous about going to Frankfort after work to run in this race.  And it’s simply because…every run is day-to-day.  I feel good some days; I hurt some days.  There is no rhyme or reason to it.  And there are a lot of amazing, skilled, fast, and mad talented runners in Frankfort and at this race.  My legs are still weak from a year off…the hill repeats sometimes making me feel strong, and sometimes making my legs scream at me and my hip hate me for the next 3 days.  My speed…is not consistent.  My legs tire easily…or just refuse to power me through some runs.  Yes…even short ones.  And especially sprints…and I’ve never been a sprinter.

And all of this has been rolling around in my head this entire week since getting back from Florida.  I am not afraid of not placing or setting a new PR.  I don’t care about that.  I’m afraid of letting myself down.  I hold myself up to a certain level and expect a lot of myself…especially at races I’ve always performed well in.  But…it just seems daunting and impossible these days.  Because. my mind races through that checklist EVERY. SINGLE. RUN.

I have to work harder than before to run.  I have to work harder than most to be able to run.  My body, literally, is not made for it.  But I’m not letting it stop me.  I am a work in progress, for sure.  And it’s hard…and I know it’s possible that I may not get stronger, or better, or even faster…but I’m not going to stop trying.

I’m also scared going into tomorrow evening because I have a rather long run planned for Saturday morning…and I’m doing it solo…because people are recovering from Boston, or tapering for Derby or Flying Pig.  And that scares me too.  I worry about pushing too hard in the 5K and not being able to do my run on Saturday.  And, sadly, the run on Saturday is the more important of the two.  And this has been my struggle, my concerns, and my fears/worries since…well…I started running again.  But, it’s been weighing heavy on me for this entire week leading into tomorrow night.

I have lost a lot of confidence in myself.  I know that.  And I have lost strength, fitness, and speed.  But I have not lost my drive.  Running may feel harder…because, these days running is harder.

But I can’t stop.  And I won’t stop.

It’s okay to be scared…but I can’t let it take control.

This is my comeback.  It’s slow.  But it’s progress.  And for now, progress is all I can ask for.  The rest will…hopefully…fall into place.

4 Replies to “Reflections of a Recovering Runner”

  1. BEST of Luck in your5K Karen!! You ,ya see “slow, weak, and broker”, but I see “fast, strong, and confident”! I didn’t know you “when”, but I know you now… And I marvel at your running!! I suppose it’s all a matter of perspective.
    You know where you’ve been, but I can only see where you”are”, and you’re AMAZING!! I think to myself “WOW! She’s good!! I just CANNOT imagine that THIS is Karen being “slow & weak”!!😳😳😳😳😳😳
    You are the most dedicated and focused runner that I know! Sweetie, I have no doubts whatsoever that you will VERY soon be back where you desire to be with your running! You just keep on pressing on! I think you’re doing fantastic!!
    What race are you training for that you need to run long tomorrow? I had thought that you were doing the KDF.
    Well, I KNOW you will ROCK your race tonight!! Trust your body, and your excellent training, and GO FORIT! 👊🏾👊🏾👏🏾👏🏾👏🏾

    1. Believe it or not…I did the training program on a whim…to give me some structure as I started back to running. My physical therapist looked over the schedule and approved it. That being said, I have signed up for the KDF Mini Marathon…so I will be doing half the distance you will be. The long run I need on Saturday is to see if I can do Grandma’s Marathon in June up in Minnesota. No telling. I have a feeling that Saturday’s run will be a major crash and burn…but I’ll see what happens tonight and how I feel after a 5K.

      YOU made me smile. If nothing else, joining up with the Norton Training Program has brought people like you into my life. And I’m a better person for it!! We still need to run together. I haven’t forgotten.

  2. I was seriously thinking about doing that 5k tonite, but something has come up, so I won’t be able to. I have no doubt you’ll do great! Keep on keeping on, Karen. You got this!
    I’m doing the kdf mini too, but still plan on running 10 miles tomorrow. I would run with you, but you know I’d be eating your dust! 😉

    1. Aw, it would have been great to see you in Frankfort tonight. I know how things come up though. I love running in Frankfort…they put on good races there. And the people are always fantastic!!

      I’m scheduled to attempt 20 tomorrow. YIKES!! We’ll see how it goes…but I’m probably going to fail miserably.

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