On unexpected trips, minor injuries, and revised goals

Last month, I talked about my aggressive September training plan that I was excited to dive into headfirst.

On Thursday, September 8, the best laid plans went to pot.

My husband stopped by my office to bring me some afternoon treats, as he was nearby and it was on his way home. I had a webinar that I couldn’t pause, so he ended up waiting around a bit for me. It was during that time he had a pretty interesting email exchange with the promotions team at I Heart Radio and Universal Music. Turns out, he won a trip for 2 to London to see the premiere of Eight Days a Week. The trip ran from the following Tuesday through Sunday.

Long story short – we made plans for me to get an expedited passport (which, other than taking years off of my life as I waited and wondered if my application would be accepted, was surprisingly easy), canceled our original weekend away plans, and I took the following week off so I could fly to London. Fortunately, my boss was incredibly supportive!

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My boss happily granted my leave so long as I came back with this mug for his wife! 🙂

Though I was not initially concerned, this obviously put a damper on my original running plans. I scrapped the training plan I had previously, scheduled a 12 mile run for the Sunday before our trip, and hoped for the best. And, really, things were going pretty well. I had to cancel my chiropractic appointment, but my piriformis syndrome had been feeling better, so I wasn’t too concerned. I knew I was going to get fewer miles in that week than usual, but I just treated it as a step back week. I got a run in on Long Island before our flight on Tuesday (a route I like to refer to as my “Hills for Breakfast” route, but after the unrelenting hills at Ragnar, it seemed like child’s play!), and a couple of nice runs on the Thames Path while in London.

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Trips to Long Island mean runs with Piper the Vizsla, aka the #redmenace!

I got about 6.5 miles in on the last day of the trip. A portion of the path through the park had some speed bumps in it – which seems incredibly dangerous on a walk/bike path, but I digress – one of which I didn’t see until I hit it. I didn’t fall, but when I caught myself, I collapsed into my right hip. I felt the pain radiate through my sciatic nerve and I knew it was going to be trouble. I finished my run, then proceeded to spend 8 hours on a plane and another 4 hours in a vehicle. Needless to say, on Monday I was in a lot of a pain.

I began to panic – I knew I couldn’t defer Adirondack Distance Festival, though I also knew I could still run it, if not as strong as I was hoping. I researched the deadlines for deferring Hartford. I still had time. I called and got into my chiropractor the next morning. I got out the ice packs and my foam roller. By Tuesday night I was already feeling a bit better, which was a relief. I went to the chiropractor on Wednesday and he chastised me for not stretching enough, though did not think I needed to stop training. However, in talking with my husband, *he* told me I needed to stop OVER training. And he was right. I needed to stop doubling up on workouts. And since I have these races coming up, running needed to be my focus.

I ran ADK Distance mostly without incident. (I wasn’t feeling great that day, but it had nothing to do with my piriformis.) I treated it as a long, leisurely training run and did not push myself, risking further aggravation of my injury. I decided not to defer Hartford, but rather modify my goal. I’ve been having trouble with my speed and I know it is due to my haphazard training this summer. Coupled with this injury, though I do want to push myself at Hartford tomorrow, the original goal is simply not realistic at this point. I did finally ditch my Altras and pulled out my old Adidas Glide Boosts from last year, which fortunately still have some life left in them, and my legs felt better on this week’s runs than they have in months.

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Adidas Supernova Glide Boost 6, bought in the fall of 2014.  Over 400 miles on them, but still going strong!

It has me thinking some about next year, too. Where do I want my running and fitness goals to take me? I found that I love running destination races, so I am thinking about purchasing the 2017 Rock ‘n’ Roll Tourpass. Maybe I don’t want to train for PRs anymore, but rather train instead so I am at a fitness level to enjoy my races. I did find that while I very much enjoyed my winter and spring training, I have felt it to be a chore for the fall, and I think it is because the first half of the year I was training for fun and fitness, and the second with a goal in mind that has been hovering like a specter. Also, no more halfs 2 weeks apart (or less) unless it is for fun only (that is, special theme or destination race). They just cost way too much money and have too much pressure otherwise. While I enjoyed the race itself yesterday and we had ideal weather conditions, I think I would have felt better about it if it had been my goal race for the season rather than a throwaway.

I got chatting with a running buddy of mine last night who was in a similar dilemma this past spring. She’s already broken the sub-2 hour half marathon barrier, though, as she said it is a hard effort for her to do that, and her PRs were somewhat elusive this year. Though it is still a goal (one I know I can achieve at some point), we both agreed that it is more fun to choose races because we want to run those particular races and have a goal to work toward, not necessarily to achieve a new PR. Adirondack Distance Festival, for example, was a beautiful run with lots of amazing course support and cheering despite being a small race. It was near perfect running conditions. I ran a 2:24, which is my second worst (road) half time. (My worst time being 2:28 at Syracuse, which was by far the WORST road running conditions of any race I’ve run!)

It’s easy to fall into a pattern of discouragement when you come off of a run of PRs (which I was PRing all over the place last fall!), and easy to forget your reasons and motivations for doing all of this in the process. It’s time to start enjoying my sport again.

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