I’ve been asked more times that I can count how I could ever enjoy running. People never seem to believe that one can find true pleasure in something so mundane, so trivial, so boring as running. I, myself, was one of those people. I never believed in the “runner’s high,” and as much as I wanted to love getting out there and hitting the pavement, I found that I had to force myself to even say that I liked it.
As mentioned in my previous blog, it wasn’t until I crossed the finish line of my first half marathon that I finally experienced the elusive “runner’s high.” While it was emotional and uplifting, I began to wonder if this was something that could only be achieved after completing a race. If that were the case, I thought to myself, I’m not sure if all of the hours of early morning, inconvenient training were worth it.
Eventually I would train for a marathon and that’s when I experienced the true runner’s high, sans race completion. This time I was on my own, on nothing more than one of my weekly long runs. It was around mile 15 of a 16-mile training that I felt a sudden burst of energy. I distinctly remember looking down at my GPS watch and realizing that at that moment I had run farther than ever before. It was more than a feeling of accomplishment; it was a feeling of doing something I never thought was possible, and knowing that I could do more. In fact, I felt as though I could run more than the last mile my training schedule required of me; I could run forever!
Of course, I did not run forever and ended my run promptly at mile 16 (I mean, I was already back at my car. Why would I run past it?) but that feeling of pure euphoria is something that would motivate me to continue running for the next several years. I would be lying if I said that every run I went on was amazing and great. But I can honestly say that I do love to run and my good runs far outnumber my bad ones, which is why it was a huge blow the day I was told I’d need to take some time away from running.
Me? Not run? That’s like telling Hugh Jackman to stop being so handsome and loveable! While I had a sneaking suspicion that I may have overdone it in my last marathon of 2015, I was in total denial about how much damage I did. I took my standard two-week break after my marathon (and by break, I mean not running … bootcamp, spin, Pilates, and interpretive dance were all fair game). Soon after my “recovery” time was over, I attempted my first run in 2016. I went from being able to effortlessly run 10 miles to barely being able to make it three. Still, I was convinced the pain I felt in my IT band was minor and something that would heal itself. So, like any intelligent, well aware athlete, I chose to ignore the pain and continue with my daily runs.
It wasn’t until a coworker noticed me limping and called me out that I knew I needed to address my leg issues. After several attempts at self-medication — reducing my weekly mileage and the obligatory half-assed stretch in front of the TV, my IT band was still not getting better. It was then that I decided to make an appointment with a physical therapist and get serious about getting better.
My PT told me that I needed to stop all high-impact physical activity immediately. He said the only way I was going to get better was to rest and take up low-impact cardio routines for the next six to eight weeks. After several tears and images of Jane Fonda’s aerobic exercise videos flashing through my mind, I asked what low-impact cardio activities were deemed acceptable. To my delight, he informed me that I could try cycling, swimming, the elliptical (boooooooring!), or anything else in which my feet did not leave the ground.
Cycling or swimming? I was intrigued.
I had always been a fan of spin class but had never actually cycled outside on a road bike. In fact, the last time I was on a bike outside was when I was 13, on my Huffy, peddling around the neighborhood. I do remember enjoying it, so with that, I decided that I would give it a go. I also had very fond memories of swimming in my Grandpa’s lap pool and trying to keep up with him. Though I never could catch him, it sure was fun to try. Again, I decided that I would also give swimming a go.
With that, I left my first PT appointment no longer being allowed to run, but feverishly scouring the web for triathlons in the Las Vegas area …
Until next time, happy trails, roads and other unchartered terrains.