Taking two weeks off running was completely my idea. I needed to remove the pressure of trying to run and to train for Chicago. I needed to focus on healing. At the time, I honestly didn’t know if it was a good idea or not, and I still don’t, but it gave me the break that I needed. It gave me the time to accept that Chicago will not be the marathon that I want it to be; once that happened, my frustration disappeared.
But taking the time off was still hard even though I walked Zeda, I spun my wheel on my windtrainer (because I didn’t trust that riding up and down hills in the great outdoors would be good for Tammy the Hamstring), and I went to yoga. I survived the first week without running but, by Day 10, I was getting antsy. “Four more days will not make a difference” I told myself. By Day 14, I was quite excited – one more day. It no longer hurt when I walk, my stability was back and I felt stronger, but I didn’t know if the time off would help my running.
I decided to test the trails on Saturday afternoon instead of in the morning as I felt my body would be more awake and Tammy would be less of a nuisance. I knew that I had to do 2’s and 1’s, and slowly. My osteopath also gave me some exercises to do before and after: hip rotations (like using a hula hoop), opening and closing the gates, and leg swings (forwards and sideways). I could hear my hip popping during the first set, which made me nervous, but I stuck to the plan: go out slowly, on a soft surface, 2 minutes on, 1 minute off, aim for a mile.
When I left the house, I was able to run along a straight plane but I had trouble manoeuvring corners and turns, even at a 9/10 minute mile pace. I almost quit and went back home. “Stick to the plan.” After 3 sets of 2’s and 1’s, I could feel that my hips had loosened up and I was moving more easily. After 6 sets, I was able to turn the same corner that I couldn’t get around before. Success! Then I went through my exercises at home for another 20 minutes. In the end, I spent more time warming up and cooling down/stretching than I actually did running, but it really didn’t matter because I ran!
Today, I went through the same routine but ran on a mix of surfaces – grass, gravel path, road – and for a bit longer. As on Saturday, I finished feeling good about running, but Tammy was still a pain in the butt – not as much of a pain as she was before, but still a nuisance. As my osteopath explained, there is scar tissue surrounding Tammy that has formed a rope and it needs to be loosened. When Tammy complains to my brain that she is sore, my body reacts by tightening up even more to protect her. But my joints and bones are healthy, my tendons are strong, and there is lots of fluid flowing through my veins. So I need to run – slowly and carefully – to start breaking up the scar tissue, to tame Tammy and to send the message to my brain that I am not broken; I am strong.
What does this mean in terms of the Chicago Marathon? I have no idea. I will be there and I will be running. I don’t know how far or how fast but I do know it will be with Tammy, and she will be on a very short leash.