Running Update & Lessons Learned

Running Update & Lessons Learned

I’m one of the crazy nuts that loves nothing more than putting on the running shoes, double layers of tights, as many tops as possible while still being able to move, the face mask and gloves to go out for a run in near Arctic conditions. Something about the cold is exhilarating, challenging and very rewarding. These runs have been even more enjoyable this winter as I finally feel like I’m returning to full running health after battling an Achilles injury for the better part of a year.

This time of injury, rest, recovery and now back to running, as frustrating as it has been, is a time that I am intentionally holding on to. Through this process I have had the benefit of absorbing many lessons that have re-framed the way I think of endurance sports, running and triathlon.

  1. It is truly a privilege and a blessing to be able to participate in sports with a healthy body. It’s so easy to take for granted the ability to be active, but it is truly something that we need to continually be thankful for.
  2. Stick to the plan. Competition can be good, but it can also be detrimental. My injury happened during a training block for the Wisconsin Marathon and was partially caused by me trying to run with the really fast guys on a weekly basis. There was a group that would run on Sunday mornings, which was my long run day (mostly long and slow), but my pride would want to run in the front group. What that often meant was that my long/slow runs became long/all too fast runs. Not only was my body definitely up to this caliber yet, but I didn’t allow my body some of the recovery it needed from the slower, prescribed pace.
  3. Don’t ignore pain. The other main contributor to my injury was that I ignored the pain for far too long. For a long time when the pain for pretty bad, I would merely take a couple of days off and then jump right back into full training mode. The pain kept getting worse and worse until I had to pull the plug on the race all together. I can play the “what if” game all day long, but if I had properly attended to my Achilles at the beginning and avoided the continual re-injuring of the tendon, I might have missed a couple of weeks of training, but I also might have been able to run the race.
  4. There is a larger purpose behind my involvement, and yours, in triathlon/running/endurance sports/whatever your passion is. This was something that hit me hard in the week leading up to Ironman 70.3 Steelhead last August and hasn’t left my mind since (read more about this here [hyperlink to Behind the Scenes entry]). This may be something very tangible or it may not. I am still exploring and learning what this larger purpose is for me, but I have no doubt this it is out there. And I believe it’s something everyone should be thinking of. It’s not just something that’s exclusive to endurance sports. How can you use your circumstances and passions to influence others and have an impact? You may never directly witness results, but being intentional about this will bring incredible results.
  5. Having come to terms with the fact that my involvement in this crazy sport is about something bigger than me and that I’m only a small part of a larger story, everything will work out the way it’s supposed to. Truly believing this will eliminate, or at least decrease, the amount of stress that surrounds race prep, mechanical failures, injuries, etc.

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