Meandering Progress

I am pleased to say that after 10.5 weeks off, I’m finally running!

Ok. I use the term “running” very loosely here. Basically I’m jogging on an Alter-G every other day and I get to increase the distance by about 5 minutes per session and the weight by 5% each time so long as my mangled plantar continues to improve and approve. So far so good, and my feet will be touching real land again soon! I’m all for skipping out on most technology-related things that needlessly complicate running; Garmins, GPS’s, Strava, whatever. They have their place on rare occasion but for the most part I prefer to go without. The day I take a pre or post or mid-run selfie is the day I’m quitting. No offense to my friends who love that stuff, you guys are just way cooler and much more hip than me, which is not that hard to do, but still. But, disdain for overly techy things aside, the Alter-G has made coming back from injuries an remarkably painless process over the last couple of years since I first became introduced to one (thank you, Great Moves Physical Therapy!). The motion of running doesn’t feel nearly as foreign or leave you feeling half as uncoordinated when you actually get back to the real thing if you were able to spend a few weeks prior gradually building back into it on one of those bad boys. They’re pretty fantastic. But I’m looking forward to getting back at it for real.

alt g

Getting my legs back on Bluey.

I’m cautiously optimistic at the moment, I know that actual training, much less racing, is a ways off. I’m not out of the woods by any means, and am still having to stay on top of all the rehab and cross-training and the letting-people-dig-in-my-foot-and-calf-with-plastic-tools treatment (thank you, Synergy Physical Therapy!) that I’m pretty sure has a more medically correct name, but I don’t know what it is. It’s about as fun as it sounds. I tried to save a few bucks and perform it on myself with a butter knife a couple weeks ago, that was a poor choice. Plus, super controlled jogging around a few times per week is a whole different animal than putting in actual miles and workouts. But the foot seems to be handling stuff pretty well thus far and adapts to a teensy weensy bigger “workload” every week without the usual residual pain it used to have, so I kinda feel like I have every reason to believe it’ll be fine pretty soon. I’ve had a few (okay, several) moments of panic; you know, the points during long layoffs where you legitimately cannot see yourself ever really RUNNING again and wonder HOW you’ve ever done it in the first place, and I really didn’t think things were getting any better because it’s been so gradual (injuries to avascular soft tissues SUCK, for the record. Just stick to breaking bones.) but in thinking how crappy things felt two months ago versus now, stuff’s moving in a pretty good direction I think. I didn’t actually even realize how sh*tty my foot felt all spring and summer until now, when it doesn’t really feel like that anymore, it actually surprises me when I notice that it doesn’t hurt.

This has been one of my longer layoffs to date thus far, but it’s gone by surprisingly fast for a lot of reasons. For one, I think I’ve been given a hefty dose of perspective over the last year watching a friend and extremely talented runner deal with a very long lasting foot injury that will warrant a pretty extensive surgery coming up pretty soon followed by an even more extensive layoff, and also following the progress of an acquaintance–a hugely gifted triathlete–working his way back from a broken neck sustained in a swimming accident earlier this summer who’ll be lucky to walk on his own again, let alone get back to running.

More recently, it’s been immensely helpful to find myself landed out of nowhere in a job where I’m not surrounded by running anymore. I’ve spent the majority of college and after college working in running stores, and it was really fun, and I figured I had what every runner wants: go to work every day at noon or later to be surrounded non-stop by running and runners and constantly immersed in the sport in some capacity, sure it’s retail and has its moments, sometimes many moments, of major BLEH, but for the most part it was a great few years and I had no intentions of changing things up any time soon. But I think I was bored. Bored and burned-out on having life seem super one-dimensional, with zero mental break from running, which is by itself already pretty all-consuming mentally. But I liked what I had and was content with it, and plus I’m a fiend for routine and sameness and stability and predictability and feeling like I have a niche, and I’d have stayed in the same place forever if I could have, but it’s hard to turn down something that could potentially be good when it just lands in your lap with basically no effort on your part, and if I’d have had any idea how mentally refreshing doing something different would have been, I think I’d have done it forever ago.

So while unfortunately I still have no sweet race recaps, or any real direction or particularly interesting things to say in this post, hopefully that stuff is around the corner.

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