Two steps forward, one step back

Ugh. Just when I thought things were going so well.

I am supposed to be outside, enjoying a beautiful chilly winter morning on a five-mile training run. Instead, I’m being responsible. I’ve been dealing with knee issues that started at the Berlin Marathon and evolved into a full-blown sprain at the Chicago Marathon. I missed a lot of training runs and took a much-needed (and, I think, well-deserved) break after the Seattle Marathon.

I’ve been slowly working my way back since then. My inner overachiever (IO) is disappointed that my paces are way off from where there were at during the peak of my last training cycle, while my rational brain has to remind me to take easy and not rush things. So my training runs seem to be a constant tug-of-war between pushing things (probably a little too hard) and backing off.

I had been using first a knee brace, then a patella strap since October. Last week, I tried an easy quarter-mile without the strap, tagged onto the end of one of my runs. It felt pretty good, so I hit the track (for a little extra cushioning) and tried the entirety of my next run strap-free. It felt great! Things were going remarkably well. Then…I made a mistake. I had gotten a new type of insole at the Chicago Marathon Expo and figured, “things are going so well, lets break in a new pair of shoes (my current model) and try the insoles while I’m at it.” Of course I didn’t stop to think that I’ve had unpleasant consequences from seemingly innocuous changes in the past. For example, I found out the hard way that I’m fine with an 8 or 10 mm heel offset, but put me in a 12 mm drop and my knees and hips go all wonky.

So, off I go with the new shoe/insole combo. Hey, they matched my shirt! Everything seemed okay until later that night, when I was feeling a new and different soreness in my knee. Which brings me to today. The knee is almost back to normal, and there was only the tiniest amount of pain when I tried running a few steps. The IO tried to convince me that I could probably complete my run and be fine. And maybe I could have.

My primary goal for 2019 is to become a stronger runner. I’m trying to be much better with my strength training, cross training, and flexibility. Most of all, I’m trying to be better about taking the time to do things properly. So, instead of a five-mile training run, I’m propping my legs up and taking it easy. I see other runners passing in front of the house and I want to join them. Maybe tomorrow, if everything is back to normal. Today I’m allowing myself to take that step backward so that I can ultimately continue my journey forward.

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