Well, it hasn’t been an easy year of running for me, so far. After the marathon in Las Vegas in December, I made the decision to take a break from marathons through the end of January. I actually ran nine marathons in 2010, but I only enjoyed seven of them. My last two races, Portland and Las Vegas, were painful because of the plantar fasciitis in my right foot and, although I hate to admit it, my body and soul both felt tired.
One of the hard things to learn as a woman (and perhaps even harder for a man) is how to listen to what the body needs and wants. We are so easily caught up in image and social demands that when the foot whispers, “Ouch. Let me take a break, please,” we may not want to hear. Or when the quads say, “Hey lady, try some other activity for a few days and give me a breather,” we may just plug our ears and sing louder along with the tune playing on our iPod.
I made the mistake at the close of 2010 of not listening to my body. When I crossed the finish line in Anchorage in August, my foot hurt like a mother. I took advantage of one of those free massages after the race, and when I stood up, pain shot through my body like lightening. I couldn’t walk back to our rental car, and I didn’t know what had happened. I’d never fallen or twisted anything or even taken a single misstep during the race. I hadn’t felt much more than a little bit of soreness on the course itself, so I really didn’t understand why I had so much discomfort.
If I’d been attending to my body as is within my value system, I would have pushed pause at that moment and stopped putting in so many miles until my foot gave me the go-ahead. But I had two more marathons on my schedule. I wanted to tick off Oregon and Nevada from the 50 States goal. And this meant training up to the marathon distance, which meant putting in a lot of miles between races.
After the Las Vegas marathon, I made a promise to myself that I would take a month off—from marathons and training for marathons, that is. I gave myself a few guidelines
- Run no more than six miles at a time
- Run no more than three times per week
- Run most of the month on my shock-absorbing treadmill in the garage while watching last season’s episodes of Big Love on DVD
- Supplement running with other kinds of exercise so I keep a decent base fitness level intact
Well, the good news is that I think my rules are working. Not only is my foot getting better (it’s still not quite back to normal), but I’m starting to miss running somethin’ awful. And that’s a good thing. Mostly because of the pain, but possibly also because my life was a tiny bit out of balance last year, the hard-earned joy of running had dissipated for me. I feel it coming back—that longing to strap on my running belt and muck through the puddles for a couple of hours.
One of the things I’m doing to get back into the groove is that I’m joining Carol Frazey’s 6-Week Running/Walking Program for Women starting on Monday, February 7 at 8:30 am at Civic Field here in Bellingham. I’ve always shied away from the track workouts that Bill goes to because I’m so slow and noncompetitive in my approach to running, but that’s what makes Carol’s runing/walking program for women perfect. I hope others will join me in picking up the pace in February. No matter why you’ve taken some time away from running or walking, it’s a good time to start again!