The Return of the Fitness

On May 14th I was pacing a workout as the track team was getting in their final preparation for the sectional track meet.  On the last lap, of the last rep of the workout I felt a sudden and stabbing pain in the bottom of my left foot.  It was unlike anything I had felt before.  I have had some PF issues in the past, but this felt different.  That night when Q woke up crying (as usual) I went to get out of bed and went to put some weight on my foot, and it could not handle any, I fell to the ground in pain.  I was unable to run for about three weeks.  I got some amazing work done by my PT, who I highly recommend, and was able to start lightly running again by the start of June.

The return to running was a strange one.  Before hurting my foot I was in arguably the best shape of my life.  I had opened the spring racing season with a 5K within 4 seconds of my PR.  I was running workouts I had never run before.  I thought I was primed for a great year.  My plans for the Naperville Half in November I was looking at running something in the 72 minute range.  Now coming back to running I was nervous that was all going to go up in smoke.  The first few weeks were nothing but easy running; it felt like I was straining to just run what used to be an easy jog pace for me.  But I kept at it, first week back 34 miles, second week back 37, third week back 43, 45 (first double digit run back), 45, 54, 55, this past week 60.  Slowly but surely I am getting back into shape.

The third week back I attempted to run a race.  I had been a part of couch to 5K type program through the church we go to, I loved getting to help new runners.  The goal race for the group was my third week back, I normally would not have run it, but I felt compelled.  It was not pretty.  I struggled my way through running almost 2 minutes slower than I had only two months prior.  Two weeks later I raced again, the Freedom Four in Glen Ellyn is a 4th of July tradition, so I felt some obligation to do so.  I was not overly optimistic about this race, considering two weeks before I had struggled for 3 miles, and this was to be 4 miles over much MUCH hillier terrain.  I was pleasantly surprised when I ran 10 seconds per mile faster for the 4 mile race than I had in the 3 mile race two weeks before.  I was getting faster, but still not even in the same ballpark as I was before.

While the first four weeks of returning to running was mostly easy running and then a few races, the last four have resulted in a build-up of mileage and some hard work I am starting to gain some confidence that I might still be able to get back into shape for the Naperville Half.  I killed my first real long run last weekend and had a great tempo effort today.  As of a month ago looking at the idea of running between 5:30-40 for 13.1 miles was daunting, now it’s becoming more realistic.  I know now I just need to keep doing things the right way and building the strength and speed again.  It’s a slow process but I have 3 plus months to do it.  (Coincidently the goal race is the day after state cross country, so the team and myself will both be shooting for the same weekend to hit one out of the park).

I am looking forward to late August for my next race, probably a 10K to really see where my fitness is at.

The next step is going to be navigating what might be one of the busier falls that I have ever had…more on that next post.

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