Monday, February 14, 2011

Top of Foot Pain, Speed Work, and my Real Reason to Run

Do you ever feel like you're torn between two different ways of thinking and you just end up trying to mesh the two together? It doesn't always work very well. It's not like peanut butter and chocolate which are separately good BUT together are even better. I have been back and forth this last week over two schools of thought. One is running for enjoyment, being able to feel relaxed, and easy and light. The other is working on increasing my speed through speed and tempo workouts. I am conflicted in how I want to approach this upcoming marathon. With the training officially started, I've gotten pumped and excited to be on a journey to another finish line. I'm convinced this one will have a much different ending, a good one. One that I can feel some sense of satisfaction and achievement. And I thought I knew how to get there. I had decided to just try and be relaxed and enjoy myself and see what happened. No time goals. Just finish and feel decent.
But then I start reading. I've been so inspired by all of the bloggers out there who are challenging themselves and reaching for new heights. Whether it's in running 3 miles for the first time, completing a hard speed workout, qualifying for Boston or training for their first ultra, it seems everyone is reaching higher. I think that's natural for runners. We're not content with the status quo. We want more. We want to be better than we previously were. I truly believe, and more so each day, that there really aren't limits to what this amazing human body can do.
With that being said, there are some limits to what my body can do without being injured. It's part of running smart so that I can run for a lifetime. And I ignored what I have learned time and time again through bitter heartache. I ran through pain. Thankfully, I'm learning a bit faster and no permanent damage was done. But it was a wake up call to me- again. Two weeks ago I ran my first speed workout in about a year. It felt great. I didn't really know how fast I could go or how long I could sustain it. I did mile repeats and it felt great. However, the next day I noticed some pain in the top of my foot. It wasn't bad though. It ached through my tempo workout on Thursday and some during my 16 miler. Last Tuesday during my next speed workout, it hurt. I had done 2 x 800 meter repeats when I finally listened to my body, kicked off my gorilla feet and just slowed it down and finished out the miles barefoot at an easy pace. But it ached all the rest of the day and through the night. I didn't do anything Wed. In fact, I was a bit scared and slightly bummed that I had been so careless. A stress fracture is the last thing I need. But by Thursday it felt much better. I ran in place cautiously and decided it was good. So I put on my socks and went outside and took it easy. Friday I felt good. So like an idiot, I looked at the training program again and decided to try my scheduled tempo workout. I ran in my socks on the treadmill in case it started hurting, but it was much better. And I nailed that tempo workout. It felt good to hold a pace that was hard. Friday night the foot pain was there. Not bad, but there. Now I never said I was the brightest in the bunch so you can see why I still did my long run on Saturday. And I took my Garmin for the first time since last June. I had looked at the training program and saw the pace and wanted to see if I could do it. My route was not easy. It consisted of 7 x 1.15 miles of uphills and the same downhills. I was focussed on my speed, my arms pumping to the back, and my feet landing properly. I was able to maintain a good pace but it wasn't super easy. During the 5th downhill the top of my foot hurt. I stopped immediately and walked. I started up again slowly and it was o.k. By the 6th uphill portion I was fading. My body felt like it was on a long run. My shoulders, calves, hamstrings, and butt felt tired. I was having to talk myself into finishing strong. But when I got to the last uphill portion something clicked in my brain. I started remembering how good I had felt on a couple of previous long runs. These were runs that I wasn't focussed on speed, where I was concentrating on relaxing everything. These were super enjoyable runs where my body didn't feel tired. Running was fun. So I told myself to stop worrying about speed for this last uphill. I relaxed everything. I tried to pretend I was barefoot. I enjoyed the sun that was out and shining. I tried to smell what was around me- the dirt and almost spring smell that was in the air. Even my breathing relaxed and suddenly everything was better. Just for fun I glanced at my watch and my pace was exactly the same as it had been before.
I really thought about it yesterday. I talked with my good friend, Heather. I have come to the conclusion that I have gotten away from what I originally set out to do. It's not that I don't enjoy challenging my body. Because I do. I liked seeing those numbers. But I am injury prone. I am tired of starting over because I have to take months off. I am learning to run a different way. It's not about speed. It's about enjoying the run. It's about relaxing my body so that I don't injure it. It's about being able to run for the rest of my life. This may not be my fastest marathon. And I will be o.k. with that. I'm not running with my watch anymore. I'm going to run according to how I feel. The speed will come. I know it will. I keep forgetting what I loved about the book Born to Run. Start with easy. Then make it light. Practice making it smooth and by the time you master those, you won't have to worry about speed because it will already be there. That is my new master plan.


Monday: 5 mile run outside in Evo's
Tuesday: 5 mile run on treadmill (3 miles in gorilla feet, 2 miles barefoot), full body weights, cycling class
Thursday: 5 mile run outside(4 miles in socks, 1 mile in gorilla feet), cycling class
Friday: 7 mile run in socks on treadmill, full body weights
Saturday: 15 mile run outside in Evo's

22 comments:

Julia said...

Jen-

I absolutely LOVE this post. Thank you so much for sharing. I think that is totally the place from where I run the best: when I am relaxed and listening to my body and I actually miss hearing the "beeps" of my watch for a few miles and suddenly look down and I am three miles from the last time I looked at my watch...and it is so true...my pace is often better than when I am obsessed over it. This weekend I was going crazy with distance and speed and today I wake up and the bottom of my foot is tight and a little sore...I went into freak out mode...and pushed myself through a tough run. GREAT. I was proud but then reading this summed exactly why I did not feel even better...I have not been listening to my body. This was a good reminder of why not to get too caught up in my plan or external factors...I have all I need to listen to right here present in me internally. I really need to read born to run...it sounds magical and like something I would totally relate to...have a good week :) Hope the weather is as nice up there as it is here!

Korin Lopez said...

I really needed this reminder...that this running and training is suppose to be fun and enjoyable! I start training for my half marathon a week from today and I may have to reread this post more than once to remind myself of why I am running, for the enjoyment!

Elizabeth Cheek said...

Amen!!!! i enjoy your blog so much!

LAPT said...

Do what's right for you--find your own bliss!!! Sounds like you're taking the right approach. :-)

Wendy said...

I love it! Yes, enjoy running and focus less on your time.

Teamarcia said...

I am so with you on this: conflicted. I say I run for the joy of it, but when I give less than my all in a training cycle or a race on some level I beat myself up about it. So wrong.
I hope we can both rediscover that fine balance.

Mamarunsbarefoot said...

It's TOTALLY the gorilla feet! Stick your foot in icy water from time to time through out the day. Stay out of them for a while. Then just walk in them no running. They sill can mess with your form. I don't run in mine anymore, esp because they did give me pain. Also if you have those things that you put between your toes when you paint them this will actually help with the pain. Not sure why but it works.. :)

Stephanie said...

I ran a race on Saturday. I enjoyed it...but I enjoyed the pleasurable 6 miler I ran outside the next day so.much.more because of the purpose behind the run. With no pressure and just recovery legs...my time meant NOTHING to me but the joy of just running was all I needed. :)

The Hungry Runner Girl said...

THIS BROKE MY HEART!!! You can't get injured again. I am so glad that you are going to play it safe!! You are absolutely amazing and stick to the real reason you run. As runners we get way to competitive but when I start getting that way I fall out of love with running and need to remember why I do it. I LOVE YOU and let me know if there is anything I can do for you!! Yay for so much weight work and spin:) Have a great V-day!!!

zapmamak said...

I'm in the same boat. The guy who's been training me just recently told me to find a balance between good form and speed and leave it there. As I become stronger and more flexible the speed will come. But I've got to work on my strength and flexibility.

Deanna@MilesToRun said...

Boy, I liked your post! I've been putting off reading Born to Run, but based on the last few sentences you posted I am going to have to read it very soon.

A nice, inspiring post.

ashley & sundance said...

loved this post... you can not get injured! I want to see your face at Ogden! you will rock it, un-injured! :)

hope you are having a fab Valentines Day.

Rachelle Wardle said...

Love this post Jen. You are a great writer and I really just enjoy soaking up all of your advice. Since I am so new to running it is very refreshing and informitive to read your posts.

Thanks!

Sam {fitnessfoodandfaith.blogspot.com} said...

love this post, thanks for the constant inspiration! happy, happy valentines day! hope you've had the best day :)

MuncherCruncher said...

You are AWESOME Jen...seriously. I think one thing that a lot of athletes DON'T do is listen to their bodies, and yet you seem to be so in tune with yours. I think that is incredible. I love what you said about running because you love it, and not to reach a number. I think that sometimes we get so caught up in the limits we put on ourself that we lose the meaning behind what we are doing in the first place.
Thank you SO much for you sweet comment on my last post. I think you are so right, we are driven and it causes us to be hard on ourself, BUT like you said..what good does that do us? Thanks for being so inspiring! Oh and your jam & applesauce...AMAZING. You are the best! xoxoxo

Kathie said...

You are such an inspiration! Great post!! Yes, like other's have said, I feel that a good portion of our athletes have the problem of not listening to their bodies. I do not know if this is something that comes with age or practice. I know, in my case, it's age. I used not listen and push through the pain. Now that ive gotten older, I seem to listen more to my body --how it moves, how it reacts, what it is or is not telling me. I think that is what makes a better athlete..listening and knowing your body. Because, after all, we are the only ones that can mold it, make it, listen to it, make it work. Our bodies are our temples. We are to treat them as such. =) Keep up the good work!

Pam said...

I love this post. It really speaks to me.

I trained for and completed my December marathon through an injury. I hated every step because every step was painful. But dangit, the entrance fee was paid and the plane tickets were bought. No way I was bailing. But since then I have recovered and have been running because I WANT TO. It's made all the difference in the world. And with the improvement in mindset has also come an improvement in speed. Funny how connected the mind and body really are.

Emz said...

This. IS. Awesome.

LOve it.

Yay you!

Audrey said...

YES YES YES!!! good thoughts. I think everyone has to discover "their own way to train" everyone's body is different. I love that running allows me to listen to my body and discover my own plan, goals, and joys

Michael said...

You're wise beyond your years. Good for you.

Pere Pasamonte said...

Great blog! Here you have have a new follower!

Here in Spain is not so frequent to run barefoot neither in minimal shoes. I'm trying to go minimal (maybe barefoot in a future, who knows) since last week so your blog is a good reference for me.

Regards!
Pere

Hannah said...

I read this post when you wrote it, but didn't comment, and I'm so glad I didn't so I could come back and re-read. What an awesome perspective, and and awesome master plan. I love it. I really do.