Taking baby steps…

We runners are a funny bunch. Tenacious we may be, but we’re also often impatient and have a bad habit of not listening to sensible advice when it comes to our injuries: we want everything fixed yesterday and will more than likely either start running again too soon or running too far when we begin our rehab. Practically every runner I know, including myself, is guilty of at least one of these “comeback crimes” and as I embark on my 2013 comeback I’m determined not to fall into that trap!

As far as injury is concerned, realistically I could have been running for about a month now, but regular readers will know that my progress was halted by a bad bout of flu which had me out of action for around three weeks. This week I decided it was time to start tentatively returning to some regular exercise, but with both injury and illness in my recent past, I knew I would have to take things very slowly and rebuild my fitness gradually in order to remain fit and healthy. Fortunately, a gradual rebuild ties in nicely with my plans to work on my running form and go back to basics this year.

I decided I would start by concentrating on some very short runs and so hit the treadmill on Tuesday to build on the mile I ran last Sunday. I ran 1.25 miles and felt fine so I returned on Thursday to increase this to 1.5 miles, again with no problems. In between times, I visited Steve’s PT studio on Wednesday and asked him to assess the movement around my ankle joint and hip to be sure that everything was moving as it should. Thankfully, there didn’t seem to be any sign of my previous problems anymore. This was reassuring since I’ve been making some adjustments in my running form now that I’m wearing a lighter shoe without all the heavy-duty support I’ve been used to (which was leading me to a heavy heel strike and, quite possibly, over-striding). My new shoes allow me to land further forward on my foot and to have a lighter foot strike overall which I prefer, but I know that I need to make these changes gradually and keep a careful eye on how my body is adjusting.

So far so good. A rest day on friday allowed my body to adapt and my out of condition muscles to recover before a 2 mile treadmill run yesterday. I have to say that yesterday was the first time since my flu that I’ve felt like a “runner” again. On all my other short runs I simply felt like I was going through the motions. I’m taking this as a positive sign that I’m truly returning to normal and getting my strength and energy back.

Overall I’m pleased with my progress this week. It was my first full week of work since my illness so was always going to be tiring, but I also managed to reintroduce some exercise and make a small increase in my mileage. My plan for the week ahead is to build on this further, but the key to a successful comeback will definitely be to stick with this gradual rebuild until there are a few more miles under my belt. Two more midweek runs should have me ready for 3 miles next weekend, however in between those runs I shall use the exercise bike to help me build up my endurance again. My mileage may be nothing to get excited about right now and I can’t wait until I’m able to get out on some of my favourite Sunday running routes again, but if I want to be able to run strong and injury free in the latter months of this year, these short runs are of paramount importance in rebuilding my strength and endurance. For now, at least, I shall continue to take baby steps.

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