Sunday. A week into physical therapy, six days of sporting the kinesio tape and the occasional knee brace. Three weeks of resisting the urge to continually take pain killers – the cheap, Target brand, of course – the kind that got me through a summer of drum corps. And two days into training for my next half marathon. Talk about timing for an idea.
Two weeks ago, I ran my first half marathon. Five weeks before that I decided to train for a half marathon. Why did I think this was a good idea at all? Spring training for drum corps is about five weeks, if not, less, and I made it through that kicking, so of course I’d be able to do this half within that time. Plus, it felt good to have a shorter term goal to work towards outside of work and school. It felt even better that it was an activity that would make me a healthier, better person. Or so I thought.
Basically what happened is I trained in too short of a time. Overtraining. I didn’t let myself have time to recoup and recover after long runs, because I was constantly gearing up for the next distance. The casualties: shin splits for about three weeks, three black toe nails, and my knees are in as good a shape as they were my Freshman year of high school. The last two, known as “Runner’s Toe” (blood is stuck under my toenails, and they’re eventually going to fall off or just grow anew,) and “Runner’s Knee” or “Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome”. In simple words, the outside muscles in my thighs are stronger than the inside muscles, and both of those are connected to my kneecap. Since the balance of strength isn’t equal, the outside muscles are pulling my kneecaps outwards, and since my knees already are kind of rotated inwards (they look like this.) As you might be able to imagine, this is a lot of pain. The treatment? Physical therapy and “taking it easy” – i.e., no real distance training until I can go a couple days without needing to tape my kneecaps in place.
So what do I decide to do? Run. Every day. Every morning. For a week. Nothing drastic, just a couple miles while the sun rises – before work and class. Awhile back, I realized that my day never felt good until I had exercised; specifically, after I ran. Knowing that the next six weeks are going to be rocky, I’m going to need that solace of running more than ever. I have early starts every day of the week, week in and week out. Coming in off spring break, the last thing I wanted to do was start my week with a case study I wasn’t sure would please my ethics teacher, nay, just starting the week with ethics in general. So I decided to get up an hour and a half earlier so I’d be able to do something I completely enjoy, and start my week on a positive note versus going to bed dreading the morning.
I’ve had a lot of early mornings. Waking up before 4am in order to catch a flight, usually to Georgia, to see friends and do something I love. Sure, the alarm at 3:30am is probably one of the worst, but knowing that once I rolled out of bed, I was on my way to a good thing. Same thing this morning. The alarm went off at 6:30am on a day I knew I could sleep until 8, but I knew that if I got out of bed, I’d be able to run my five miles and feel good (at least, for the most part,) for the entire day. And hey, if I end up getting to work out twice a day for the entire week, I’m sure not complaining about that, either.
So here goes to six more days of waking up with the sun and running up and down Michigan Avenue, watching the early rays play on the buildings and watching the shadows melt away…yeah, those three 5:30am runs are going to be fantastic.