What I Learned From Not Running For 4 Months

I’m running again!

It’s not far, it’s not fast, but it’s all good, like Pete the Cat. He just keeps movin’ and groovin’ and singing his song. I wonder if he was ever an injured runner?

At the end of March, I got the OK from my doc to begin a slow and steady buildup. There’s no guarantee that my plantar plate won’t tear again, and I don’t think it will ever be 100%, but the Incurable $hitty Toe is cured “enough” at this point. I got some new shoes (a post on that soon) and went and did an “easy” mostly-running-some-walking, 2 mile run around the neighborhood.

running injured runner

“Spring, are you here yet???”

No protests from my toe, but it felt weird. Even though I’d been working out, all the little tendons and ligaments that I hadn’t used in 4.5 months had a little protest party the next day, but some foam rolling and some Aleve silenced them. Since then, I’ve upped the milage a bit, and The Toe does let me know if I’ve pushed to far by giving me a dull ache in retaliation. Nothing like I had back in November, but it reminds me to be patient.  Speaking of, on that 2-mile run, I thought about what I learned from not running for 4.5 months. Be warned, it’s kind of rando:

1. Swimming and me – we’re cool. Dragging myself 2x week to the pool, after 7:00 PM, usually when it was 14 degrees and snowing, was really, really hard. But once I got myself there and actually got in the pool, I was glad I went. I learned that there’s more to a swim workout than just endless laps of front crawl. I learned how to do a decent flip-turn. I worked up to a MILE STRAIGHT (I pretty much ate the entire pantry when I got home from that one.) While I wouldn’t say I love swimming now, I learned to appreciate what it does for my body and health. And it certainly won’t be my weakest of the three triathlon sports this year (hello, bike, I’m lookin’ at you!)

swimming triathlon injured runner

This is what happens when you forget to take your makeup off before swimming.  It also smeared all over the inside of my googles. FTW!

2. Don’t underestimate the value of someone tweaking your swim stroke. I got some good tips from taking a swim endurance class, and I’m a much better swimmer for it. If you are a triathlete or thinking about “tri-ing” one, but the swim is holding you back, consider a lesson or two. Even one session with a coach for feedback on your stroke would be quite helpful.

3. Replacing pedals on a bike is harder than it looks. Using about 90 minutes of my life I won’t get back, I wrestled with wrenching off the old pedals off for what seemed like days. I finally just took it to the bike shop and they did it in 5 minutes for $5. Oh, the burn.

4. I never knew that feeling strong felt so good. Strength training was the last piece of the running puzzle I was never able to get a handle on. I just always skipped it, usually due to time, even though in my soul I knew I had a typically weak upper body and feeble core of a runner. Enter Crossfit. I joined in January with a Groupon, attempted a hideous pull-up, couldn’t do even ten modified push ups, learned the language of weightlifting, but stuck with the introductory classes. Fast forward to now, and I’m seeing incredible results. I lost body fat, and I gained some biceps. My chicken legs now have some muscle tone. I can do about 50 modified pushups in a row (and about 8 “real” pushups). I climbed a rope (not very far, BUT STILL). I did a bench press! A clean-and-jerk! A push-press! And some of my back fat is disappearingI REPEAT: My some of my back fat is disappearing! I finally understand it. Sure, I can run 38 miles a week, but until I added hardcore strength training, I never actually felt LEAN. I CAN’T WAIT to see how this will improve my running. (BTW, I drank the CrossFit kool-aid, I’m a full-on member now. Shout-out to Ridgefield CrossFit!)

Crossfit injured runner off-season

That was a 65 pound push-press. I got up to 75 pounds that day. It’s like lifting 1.5 of my children over my head. I kind of want to try it.

4. Running is just part of my *new* fitness mindset. Once I couldn’t rely on running for my (almost) daily sweat anymore, I realized just how vital that sweat, that workout, that release was to my mental health and my very being. Of course I missed running, but it occured to me that if something happened and I couldn’t run ever again, I’d find a way to be fit. I didn’t really think that way before my injury. I just thought, “I’m a runner. If I got injured I wouldn’t do anything else, why bother?” NOW, I think, “I’m an athlete. If I get injured, I will find a way to be healthy a strong.” After January 1st, I managed to workout in some way 5x per week most weeks. I couldn’t believe it I was standing in front of my giant calendar planning my workouts for the week and getting excited, and none of those workouts contained running. Running will always be my first love, but I’m married into the fitness family now.

bike trainer, cross training, triathlon, injured runner

What price sanity? An hour on the bike trainer in the toy room watching Frozen for the 2,395th time, that’s the price.

There’s so much more I want to tell you, but I’m tired! I’m in training for TriRidgefield. I got new running shoes. I’m a volunteer trainer for the local Run Like a Mother training group. I discovered the heaven that is homemade roasted almonds. I’m coaching 6 year-old softball. I’m still herding loveable cats teaching as my full-time job (just graded some math tests, in fact). WHEW. It’s going to be an interesting Spring!

What has an injury taught you? What’s new for your spring? Is it even spring yet?

-Nancy

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10 thoughts on “What I Learned From Not Running For 4 Months

    • Thanks! This winter would have been a ton of treadmill running anyway. It’s almost like I was blind to this whole other “menu” of things I could do. I had to accept that the other menu wasn’t inferior to running, just a different restaurant. Ok, enough with the lame analogies. Miss you, too! There is such a special place in my heart for Ragnar, I can’t even begin to find the words.

  1. Yay crossfit! This was an inspiring post, Nano! I have allowed my incurable $hitty foot get in the way of my work outs and I’ve paid the price for it in loss of strength and gaining of flab. I need to get “excited” about my workout calendar too. You rock!

    • Variety was definitely the key. Swim/Spin/Crossfit/Row, even walk, when it wasn’t 3 degrees. I always just thought, what can I do this week that will fit into my schedule? And yessssss, YAY Crossfit!

  2. Great post, Nancy! Glad that you are back to running, but you also learned valuable lessons while being hurt. I was the same way when I took three months off with stress fractures.

  3. Nancy I admire you for the ability to find yourself in a diffrent means of making you fit. I know it took alot since you couldn’t run but you did it. Running will be back in full soon I am sure.

  4. Thank you for sharing! Keep up the great work. So glad to hear your running again. Go you!!!

    PS – I love Pete the Cat!!! I’ve printed up one of the quotes from the book & it’s in our kitchen for all the kids to see.

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