Oh hi there! It’s been way too long with out a blog post, don’t you think? You may have noticed that while my blogging decreased, my speed increased. Many of my followers have been asking what the deal is with that, so I want to take some time to explain my not-so-secret secrets. Hint: NO SPEED INTERVALS!
Many of you know that I suffered a terrible bout of achilles tendonitis that put my out of the running game for six weeks. And when I said I was not running for six weeks, I mean I did not run at all. Not even when my kid was climbing on something or the dog ran out of the house. I walked my way to them because I was so determined to get better. What I didn’t realize is that I’d come back faster than before.
I’ve thought about what might contribute to the increased speed. I went from running a 10:47 conversational pace for three miles to a 9:09 conversational pace for four miles. I think I figured out why…
1. I came back to running without the insane expectations that we all put on ourselves. When I started running again after my achilles injury, I told myself that I had to back off with the expectations. I pretty much forced myself to just run without paying attention to my pace. In fact, I didn’t even take a watch other than my activity tracker. So, I wasn’t staring at my watch constantly and beating myself up over what it said.
This was a complete mental game changer for me. A good friend of mine and fellow running coach, Jeph Maags, suggested I just go out and “do what feels comfortable.” So, I did. And I guess what felt comfortable was a pace below 10 minutes.
I always knew running was mental, but I didn’t realize the degree. Leaving the watch at home and going easy on myself post-injury gave me a confidence boost I never expected. I still haven’t taken my watch on a run! My Garmin VivoActive tracks distance and time, but not pace. I’ll take it. It’s been a complete mental makeover for me.
2. Six weeks of rest reset me physically and helped me regain some strength. No runner wants to take time off. None of us want to hear that rest is the ticket to feeling better, healing, or regaining strength after burnout. Trust me when I say that if someone told me I should rest so I could regain strength, I would have laughed and wouldn’t have done it.
I was forced to take six weeks off, though, and it did a world of good for me. I hurt worse than I realized. I mean, part of running is physical pain and soreness. I get that. But I wasn’t being smart about it. My calves were always tight because I didn’t warm up or foam roll; my IT bands were getting sore because I wasn’t using The Stick the way I should have been. Resting allowed so many muscles to heal.
When I came back to running, I was able to not only run faster, but run faster without pain. It’s an amazing feeling to regain strength and see how rest can truly help your ability.
3. I was off of running, but I still worked out 4 days a week. I got into the water because I had nothing else to do. Swimming laps dramatically helped me with my breathing. It became a lot more uniform, and I learned how to exert myself holding my breath.
In addition to laps, I also took up some other aqua fitness classes. My sister-in-law started teaching HydroSpin, a form of cycling that takes place in the water. I also attended Aqua StandUP regularly for strength training, My muscles became stronger and stronger, and I had a lot more core control.
The water is your friend. It’s low impact resistance that helps you build strength. I sincerely believe that it helped me level my breathing and gain strength that I didn’t have before.
And there you have it! Have you ever taken time off only to return to running FASTER and HAPPIER?