Y'all. Monday is the start of Injury Week 7. This means that I can start introducing a little running back into my life. I'm planning to start out with about 15 minutes at a time and keep the pace no faster than 10:00/miles. I'm going to add mileage slowly, maybe half a mile every few days.
But here's the thing... I've got races to run, so I cannot get injured again. I've been thinking a lot lately about what I can learn from this experience, and I've come up with some rules for myself that will hopefully keep me on track this time (unintentional pun, but I like it, so I'm keeping it in).
1. CrossFit is not an option for cross training. This one is going to be the hardest, for sure. I love CrossFit. A little over a year ago, I was not exercising, eating terribly (this one hasn't changed so much), stressing out about the bar and finding a job, and I had ballooned up to my highest weight ever. I would never have had the confidence to start running again and making all of these very public goals if it weren't for the changes I saw in myself physically and mentally during this last year of doing CrossFit. However, it is hard on my body. For the six weeks leading up to the start of HM training, I was not doing any running/DUs/box jumps because my shin splints were flaring up. My legs just can't handle the pounding of running workouts and CrossFit workouts. So from now on, during race season, I'll be sticking with low-impact cross training like Pilates, swimming, and spin classes.
2. I need 2 rest days. I know a lot of runners who take like one rest day every three weeks. I would be in a full body cast if I tried that. I'm going to stick with a version of the FIRST training plan for now, so that means three running days + two cross training days + two rest days per week. I am leaving this one open for re-evaluation... if I feel like my body can handle a one-rest-day week every now and then, that will be an option.
3. Easy runs are called easy for a reason. Throughout my HM training, I had issues with sticking to my goal paces. As in, I almost always went too fast. While this indicates that I probably need to adjust everything down slightly, I know that a big part of those fast paces was being my usual super competitive self. I want to go as fast as I can all the time... I hate when people pass me on the path or when I'm supposed to be doing a slow mile and I'm on a busy road. I need to get over it and slow down when slow is called for. Training at 100% all the time isn't going to be to finish line faster; it's going to get me right back where I am now.
4. Stretch, roll, stretch, roll, stretch, roll. Yeah, I don't do either of these nearly enough. My calves, hamstrings, and hips are suuuuuuuper tight. I've been told by one doctor that I am the most inflexible person he's ever seen. That is not good. Stretching and rolling will be done every day. No excuses. I think this is also a great reason to get more massages. I have Monday off for President's Day so I will be treating myself to one then.
5. Pay more attention to hydration. I don't do a good job of drinking water during the day at work. I have a weird aversion to drinking tap water from the sink at the office, which is completely irrational since my office is about 2.5 miles from my house, and our water there comes from the same place. I've ordered a big 24 oz Tervis (I drink more when I have a straw) to be my "work cup" and I think that will help immensely. Tervis makes everything better.
6. Every 4th week will be a cut-back week. I've read about this strategy in plenty of places, including the running Bible, and I'm going to try it out for a few months. I'll rethink this one if it doesn't seem to help or if I feel like I'm losing more in fitness than I'm gaining in health. I'm not sure how much I'll need this if I'm also doing two rest days, so I'll just see how it works out.
So, those are my six rules. I'm also going to experiment with some things like compression sleeves for my calves and taking a calcium supplement. This is my fifth bone break, so clearly I have some issues with my bones, and I'm hoping the supplement will help that. If you have any recommendations for coming back from an injury, please let me know in the comments!