Learning to trust myself

Hello again! Last week was a much needed break from blogging – busy at work and stressful personal stuff do not make a good combination. But luckily this weekend has been the definition of relaxing and worry-free. And we finally got into the Christmas spirit. Tree. Check. Cards mailed. Check. Gifts purchased. Check-ish.

Real trees are awesome.

Real trees are awesome.

So let’s rewind to workouts. I was trail running with a friend this week (more on those runs later) when she asked me if my foot pain is real or psychosomatic. And I wasn’t sure. I know that when I’m distracted or running then my foot doesn’t hurt. But I’m terrified of getting a stress fracture so I get random foot pains and convince myself that I’ve broken my foot. That is super duper fun. As well as that, after every run I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop……..so to speak………..really I’m waiting to get punished for daring to try.

As someone who never exercised regularly growing up I’ve always found it hard to trust my own opinion of how my body is feeling. I seek reassurance from PTs or doctors to hold my hand and tell me when I should push myself a little harder. Having to rely on my own judgement for this is scary. I’m scared of making the wrong decision – and maybe this is a reflection of my life in general. The fear of choosing the wrong thing and being full of regrets. I know that I need more faith in myself. In my own judgement. And not being so afraid – of failing, getting it wrong, admitting I f*cked up.

So that’s what I’ve been doing. Running when I’m a little scared – of triggering my injury, getting a compensation injury. Believing that I am more resilient than I believe. Aren’t we all our own harshest critics? I know that this is true for me. I hold myself to much higher standards than I expect from anyone else. The one thing I have noticed is that yoga seems to aggravate my foot – probably due to the one-footed balancing – so I’m taking a break from that. My gym is also out of action until mid-January so strength training isn’t really an option right now either. Cardio it is!

Sat: 2000 yd swim (this is the half iron-man distance 1.2 miles)

Sun: 4.2 mile trail run + PM skiing!

Mon: 2000 yd swim

Tues: 4.2 mile trail run

Wed: 1350 yd swim

Thurs: 3.9 mile run

Fri: 4.35 mile trail run

Sat: 2500 yd swim (fastest mile 37.05 minutes, and longest distance!)

Sun: 5.3 mile run

My doctor recommended that my return to running should be on softer surfaces – so for me that means plenty of trail runs. I’m lucky to live in Salt Lake City where it is easy to get to a trail-head in 10-15 minutes (including a whole bunch right by my workplace). Although they tend to be full of hills.

One route I’ve been running is a little over 4 miles with 500 ft of elevation change plus beautiful views over the valley. I’ve been lucky in that both J and my trail running buddy A have made these runs so fun – plenty of chatting which keeps the pace manageable. Most of these runs have also been at lunchtime which gives me the rare pleasure of daylight running in winter. It was even in the 60s for our run on Friday!

On Tuesday we tackled Dry Creek canyon. I ran this a lot during the summer. It’s one tough uphill run – a little over a mile non-stop uphill with 426 ft elevation gain in that distance (800 ft total for the whole run). It is hard and I couldn’t quite make it to the top without stopping for a walk break. It was a little discouraging – I used to run ALL the way to the top in the summer – so I know that I’m not where I was during marathon training. Although why that was surprising to me I have no idea. I haven’t been running the same mileage, tempo runs or hill work so why should I magically retain that fitness? I guess I needed to get a reality check.

I will defeat you Dry Creek!

I will defeat you Dry Creek!

What I like about trail running is my complete lack of interest in pace/split times. I personally believe that trail running improves your running efficiency – it shortens your stride, strengthens your feet/ankles, and works your cardiovascular system in a way that seems fun (well……..most of the time). One of my main goals for 2015 is to do longer trail runs in the ski resorts in Park City and enter some trail races. (I always thought that these races were for crazy people………..so um yeah I think I’m turning into a crazy person).

Top of Dry Creek from the summer.

Top of Dry Creek from the summer.

The other running option is a local park about 1 mile away that has a wood-chip 1.5 mile trail around it. We had plenty of rain here yesterday so when I went for my run today there was a real spring in my step. I had no expectations for this run except that I wanted to run at least 5 miles. When I left my house it was 33F and snowing lightly and I felt great. So I pushed it a little – 8.08/8.07/8.10/7.55 for 4 miles. And the first time I’ve seen a sub-8 minute mile in two months. After that excitement I decided to be sensible and slow it down for the way home. Overall, 5.3 miles at 8.14 min/mile pace. And it felt awesome! I might not be in peak shape but I can see myself getting there again.

The other thing that you may have noticed is that ski season has started. We haven’t gotten a ton of snow here in Utah yet but I wanted to test out my ski legs. So last weekend we headed up to Alta for a couple of hours of skiing – $10 for 1.5 hours. 5 runs and no quad burn. That is usually the factor that puts an end to my ski day. Luckily the green runs didn’t kick my butt too much this time.

Skis!

Skis!

So I think I might be finally ready for winter…….

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23 thoughts on “Learning to trust myself

  1. I felt like I was reading about me here. I am glad you are feeling somewhat better and figuring out what really does aggravate it. I am sure you will be back to 100% soon. Great to see you back πŸ™‚

  2. Nice job on your workouts!!! Way to go!! Oh my gosh, I love seeing the swim/run combo!! Such a great combo!! Way to swim, too!! Seriously, you should be SO proud of yourself!! You’re such a great athlete!! Beautiful tree, too!! Looks gorgeous!! Have a happy week!! XOXO

  3. I know what you mean about the possibility of the pain being in your head! I often wonder the same thing when something only hurts if I’m paying attention to it, but feels fine when Im disgraced. It sounds like you are being smart about it, even if you do try to push yourself a little more!

    • The more I run and read running blogs, the more I’m convinced that running is 50% mental. For me this is true for pushing hard paces, race strategies and listening to my body. Also as I get further into my 30s I’m starting to get random pains all over my body!

  4. YAY! Sometimes you have to just know that you know your body best. Doctors and others are there to offer advice, but it is up to you to apply it in the way that is best for you.

  5. Ugh, I feel you in the whole injury thing! I’ve had three stress fractures so every time I feel some kind of twinge, I second guess myself. I am like you – didn’t start exercise regularly growing up – so I have no idea when to stop. I usually keep going until I break. I have quite the arsenal of contacts in my phone: a good massage therapist, an acupuncturist, a good chiropractor, a physical therapist, and an orthopedic doctor. They all know me way too well because I freak about everything. But, I’ve been sidelined enough that I don’t like to screw around!

    As for the skiing, VERY cool! I am also an avid skier but I’m in the northeast. We have some ski areas open but the conditions are questionable!

    • I was actually surprised when back in August my physiotherapist told me I didn’t need to see her anymore. I wasn’t ready to not see her regularly! I think I am making every mistake a new runner can make but hopefully I’ll make them once and learn. It might be a good thing that I’m a slight hypochondriac normally and especially with anything runner-related. We’ve had a pretty quiet winter so far but looks like we’ll be getting more snow next week.

  6. I feel the same way–I have no idea what I’m doing most of the time and have a hard time knowing if what I’m doing is “right.” I’m also dealing with a wonky foot, but I think I’ve turned the corner, and my Christmas gift to myself will be a nice, slow 1 mile run!

  7. I completely understand that fear of not wanting to re-injure yourself, I’ve been there before myself. But it looks like you are having a productive month though, so great job! I love trail running too, I could care less about pace and all that stressful stuff, I’m definitely much more concerned with being in the moment and enjoying the scenery!

    • I think the best runs I’ve had this year have been on trails. Forgetting about time and just taking it all in! My dream would be to run by trails overlooking the ocean – I guess that would be easy for you! I think I might have finally accepted that I’m no longer injured……….and am enjoying just getting some miles in (especially on the trails).

  8. Great post yo! I’m just catching up on your blog posts, I love all the food, Irish socks…But I also understand your need for a break. I’ve had to take a few blog breaks recently. Funny how life gets in the way of stuff.
    Anyway, great job on your workouts. I hope you get to being all healthy soon!

  9. charissarunning says:

    I’m so glad your running is coming together for you again! Pesky injuries… I find what you said about yoga really interesting actually. I love yoga and how it stretches me out, but I’ve felt little foot twinges at times when doing one-footed balance positions as well. Hmm… I thought I was the only one experiencing that. I’m glad you said something because now that I have my foot issue as well, I will stay away from some yoga positions that may aggravate my foot! Also, you are killing it with your swimming! Are you planning on doing a tri at some point? πŸ™‚

    • I tend to make all of the newbie runners mistakes. So when I first hurt my foot I decided to take a rest from running (smart) and go to the gym instead and do some single leg squats (not smart). My doctor was like “Um……don’t do that!”. I think yoga would be fine except the instructor I love always includes a ton of one legged balances (which I was finally starting to get better at) so I needed a break. And the swimming is a big surprise to me too. As for tris – I’m not sure. I am terrified of open water swimming and road biking (well mostly the cost of a bike and clipping in/out of pedals) but who knows? I never thought I’d run a marathon so…….

  10. Martha B says:

    WELCOME TO THE DARK SIDE… you trail running dare devil you πŸ™‚ It is so fun, and you will fit right in with us “crazies.” Your tree looks lovely … and a ski adventure sounds about great right now (we had snow for 1 day. now we have slop. ugh.)
    As with the pain thing – I think it will get better for you. I was a crazy careful person after my stress fracture – I felt like I had to check in every single second of every single run and scan my body for any pain. What snapped me out of it was actually surprisingly trail running. After a few technically challenging runs, I realized that I am not the fragile little snowflake that I thought I was becoming. I started being able to analyze what’s aches and what’s pain. It took awhile, but it gets better, I promise! I still get a ghost ache every once in awhile (and it’s usually after a few days of rest, actually. not when I’m running), but I know those are in my mind. I hope you get it figured out soon.

    • I’m loving the trails. I did a few trail races in the summer but definitely want to head up to the mountains a lot more in 2015. I think we are due some snow on Christmas Day so looks like snow-shoeing might be in my future too. That’s reassuring that I’m not the only one who feels this way post-injury. I’ve spent the last month analyzing whether each step hurt. And I think I’ve finally convinced myself that nothing has hurt in that time so maybe I should just go out and run.

      • Martha B says:

        I definitely want to try snow shoeing this winter! Glad you are feeling better! That’s such a relief when you know everything is working properly and you can get back to what you love!

  11. I miss skiing. You have such better mountains out there. (Your greens are like our blues though!)

    The whole psychosomatic thing is a question I have asked myself so many times. I’m so glad to see you back out there and running on some trails! For me, the softer running surface has always equaled treadmill.

    I love your tree! ❀

  12. The Christmas tree has worked – definitely feeling Christmassy now. We are pretty spoiled with skiing out here. I’ve never been out east to ski but I’ve heard it’s not great. And yes – sometimes I’ll start down a run and suddenly realize I’m out of my depth. Oh well – learning experience. It’s funny – since acknowledging the pyscho-somatic-ness of my injury all of those mystery pains have disappeared.

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