It was exactly five minutes longer than I've gone in over six weeks. I haven't been running seriously in over two months.
To clarify, it was actually a ten minute "workout," alternating between one minute of walking and one minute of running. So I have yet to even run two minutes consecutively. This is a precipitous drop from eighty mile weeks of the past.
When my physical therapist told me last week I could attempt running this week--and then revealed my plan--I was simultaneously overjoyed and disappointed. At my first appointment, the prognosis was that I'd be running again within 4 weeks. (I was even told I could still compete in the Philadelphia Marathon, but I abandoned that idea.) The four week deadline came and went. The appointment the week before was bleak: I was to tack on additional appointments and running still wasn't on the radar. But armed with new exercises, I seemed to make a turnaround. I could run.
|Back in five...|
But five minutes? Really? I didn't know I would be starting so slowly. In the past, no matter my fitness, I have always assumed a baseline of four miles. I can not workout for months (namely in college), but I can always struggle through and make it four miles. But this isn't a problem with my fitness. This is a very real injury, and caution is key.
And so, I embarked on my Big Run:
Minute 1: Sheer bliss. It may seem like an exaggeration to be so enamored by running that one minute can transform you, but that is how addicted I am. Just speeding up from a walking pace to a slow jog felt amazing. Damn, I've missed this. I knew I did, but this reminds me how much.
Minute 2: Still feeling great, the morning is just breaking. The weather is perfect autumn, shorts and long sleeve tee weather. I make it to the trail, there are leaves underfoot, pure joy.
Minute 3: Geez, it's already time to turn around. Oh wait, what's that? My hip?! I feel it, working. It doesn't feel like sharp pains like it used to, but I feel something, and I'd really rather feel nothing at all.
Minute 4: My hip feels like it does when I'm doing my exercises. Maybe it's just out of shape and/or tired? After all, that's the point of the exercises, to get it working again. In the old days, it was letting the surrounding muscles (quads, hamstrings) do the work and that was the beginning of the problem. It doesn't feel like it did when I first realized I was injured, so that must be progress, right?
Minute 5: Almost done. The hip feels as it did in minutes 3 and 4, no better but no worse. I'm still loving the running, as the early minutes, but the carefree attitude is gone. Everyone told me that coming back from injury would be filled with paranoia (among other not-so-pleasant emotions), and they were right. It's starting.
My physical therapist was clearly right to be so cautious, if a quick five minutes can begin to trigger something. It was certainly a mixed bag of emotions and a reminder--as if I needed one--of a long road ahead. But overall, it does seem like I covered all the bases of a solid run: both pure joy and discomfort, both moments of doubt and moments of triumph. Okay, no triumph with that run, but maybe when I tackle ten minutes.