Tuesday, January 26, 2010

A (tad bit) Hypersensitive

Psy-cho-so-mat-ic: adj. 1. Relating to or concerned with the influence of the mind on the body, and the body on the mind, esp. with respect to disease. 2. Of or relating to a disorder having physical manifestations but originating from mental or emotional causes. -noun One who experiences bodily symptoms because of mental conflict -psy'cho-so-mat'i-cal-ly adv.

-Webster's II New College Dictionary, third edition.

Just wanted to clear that up, in case you were wondering. The definition is important later on - so keep that little nugget of information tucked away but easily accessible.

Today I ran outside. WOO HOO!!!

It was my first run since pulling out of my early-season 5k due to anterior tibial pain and since developing my third sinus infection within 11 months. Yuck. Thankfully my sinuses are gradually clearing, and after plenty of 1) rest 2) ice 3) compression 4) elevation 5) awesome deep tissue massage therapy by Lisa 6) non-running activities that mimic running, including elliptical and 7) Aleve - my leg felt...


After nearly two weeks of not running and hearing about Nathaniel's mostly-good running exploits, I had had enough. I missed the feel - you know what I mean? That sensation of floating along, comfortable with yourself and your effort level, pushing through the tough bits and growing in the process...and when things get hard and uncomfortable, knowing that you can push back and get stronger.

Okay, okay - granted not every run has a Eutopian essence, but you get the idea. Heck, I even missed the sweaty-breath-heaving-legs-quivering-heart-rate-through-your-mouth-this-sucks!-feeling. I just missed running.

With a 45-minute run on my today's training schedule and some fun :45 second sprints and 5-minute builds thrown in for good measure, I knew that I at least had to try.

This workout was not made for the elliptical. No, my friends - this was made for dirt-packed, tree-laden, lakeside trails. And I knew just the spot. Lovely Lake O'Neil.

I figured that IF at the onset of ANY pain, ANY discomfort, ANY weird unnatural feeling AT ALL, I would: STOP, walk back to my car, and drive to the gym. The risk of further injury just wasn't worth it - and at least by completing the workout on the elliptical, I could get some sort of benefit (even if it wasn't exactly what I wanted).

After parking, fidgeting with my shoe, using the bathroom, fidgeting with my other shoe, I was off. I figured that every few minutes, I would assess how my leg felt, check the rest of my person, and most important of all - LISTEN to what my body was trying to tell me. Deep down I was afraid that because I wanted - so much - for everything to be okay, I wouldn't immediately recognize that anything was wrong.

So there I was...




I figured it was time for an assessment. Okay - legs - good! Ankles were a little tight to start, but are gradually unstiffening themselves. Posture feels good, stride is opening up, head is upright, shoulders are back... and legs feel - well, great!


I've got this thing beat!

And then I looked at my watch, startled to see that only :44 seconds had passed. Seriously. For real.

Oh well.

So I resigned myself to assess a little less often - but in spite of my best efforts, I kept thinking about my right lower leg, convinced that any slight niggle, any little feeling was an indicator of the catastrophe that would soon come to pass. In reality, I because hypersensitive to my leg.

2:30 into my run, I did another assessment... everything seemed fine. And then right around 4:04 - same thing, with the same result. Rounding the 7:00 mark was huge for me - because on January 11th, I couldn't run for seven minutes without having to stop and stretch. 9 minutes passed - all uneventful.

But still, I was wary - convinced that at ANY MOMENT, my leg would just suddenly seize up and the rest of my workout would be spent begrudgingly on the elliptical.

I was getting inside of my own head. Or my leg was getting inside of my head. Or my head was getting in the way of my leg and my leg was fine but my head didn't know that and my leg was happy to be running and was reacting the way a normal leg should when it engages in activity, but my head was so sensitive to any bit that my leg started feeling...funny.

Ever had that happen to you?

Then at 10 minutes, something interesting happened: the trail that I was running on was no longer accessible, as Lake O'Neil had flooded its banks. And sure - I could slog through the standing water and make my way to the other side (and for a while, I did balance precariously on the edge of the high grass and flooded trail). But the thought of sloshing through several inches of standing water and running with soaking wet feet for the final 35 minutes of my run - did NOT sound fun.

Trust me when I say - nothing about cold, wet, heavy-feeling feet is fun.

But the obstacle of navigating the flooded trail proved enough distraction that for several glorious moments, I was not thinking about or aware of anything dealing with my leg. I was just a runner, slightly perturbed by a flooded trail.

As building a raft wasn't feasible and we already know how I feel about wet feet, I decided to turn around and double back to the car. I started running, while my mind was abuzz with what to do and how to finish the run... I don't mind monotony and I figured I could repeat my loop a second time to make 40 minutes. I would have to run past the car a few minutes and then double back from a different direction to finish my cool down - but overall, it would work out.

And it would provide the surface that was ideal for my-

Then it hit me.

In the few minutes that I had taken away the focus from my leg and thought about something else - my leg had felt... fine.

No problems.

No twinges.

No weird pain.

Maybe a little swollen - but totally...normal.

And that made me happy.

So for the rest of my run, I thought about everything except my leg. Sure, I paid attention to it, but it wasn't the focus.

I admired the scenery - the wet leaves on the hard-packed sand...the way the wind skimmed the surface of the water... the sound of the ducks, quacking happily away in the reeds...the sound of my breathing during the FAST parts...the pat-pat-pat-pat of my foot strikes on the hard packed dirt...the feeling of the air over my skin and how the sweat trickled down the sides of my face...the taste of salt on my lips, and how it burned my eyes slightly during my 5-minute build...

I thought of everything but the pain in my leg.

And that made all the difference.

In the end it was not just a good run - but a GREAT one. And I realized that whatever happens with my body - be it sinus infections, coughs, colds, or unexplained muscle pains - will happen. But that doesn't mean I have to change how I view the world while I'm outside training in it. In the beginning I was so caught up with the 'what if' that I forgot to stop and just 'enjoy'.

I'll still be aware of my body, leg - and how everything is feeling - YES. But I won't loose sight of why I'm out there in the first place. And I can't wait to go back and do it again.


Heidi Austin said...

welcome back! i'm glad you had a fabulous run and that your anterior tib is feeling better. sometimes distractions are good!

Jennifer Harrison said...

AH!! Like I said .... you needed this one! :) SO glad....!!!

GoBigGreen said...

Keep icing stretching etc...you are going to be fine! So glad you got out and you are doing better! Ahhh!

Molly said...

Yay! That's awesome!! I know what you mean...sometimes you spend way too much of your workout obsessing adn worrying over whether something feels a certain way and if you just let it go...it goes away. Glad you are back in action!!!

kerrie said...

yeah-back at it!!(and what beautiful weather you have to enjoy too!!). i hope to be writing a similar post soon except it'll be about me slogging through snow ;)

MM said...

Sweet. Glad you had a good run. Those are the best!!

ADC said...

Oh, we all do that. But the problem is that if I say to myself that I won't think about something, I end up thinking about it even more. Yay for the great run.

TriGirl Kate O said...

That's great! So glad you had a good run. I'll email you soon re Vineman.

Scott said...

Glad to hear it went well, stay strong and stay smart!

Beth said...

So great to hear you are feeling better (on all fronts) Marit!! I agree that it is hard NOT to think of the affected area when you are coming off an injury. Anyway, so happy for you. Enjoy the next one just as much! :)

Angela and David Kidd said...

I have been right there - just stuck thinking about my foot. I am just now starting to enjoy running like I used to, letting my mind wander or thinking about the burning of my muscles when I work hard, and not thinking about my stupid foot. It's great to be back!

And I also did the building with 45 seconds of speed, although sadly instead of a nice trail, I was on the treadmill. Ick.

Nicole @ Geek Turned Athlete said...

I soooo do that! I need to follow your advice, and just stop thinking about my ankle and just run!

I'm glad your run went well. :)

Mer! said...

Yeahhh!!! Welcome back Marit!!! SUPER on the run!!!

I do that every time I run "fidget with one shoe...the other..glasses..garmin, hair" =0..sounds like my typical routine!! =0 hehe!!

Maybe i'll pass along your suggestion to Dave about HIS leg!!!! Sounds like it's worth a try!!

See you for lunch =0

Lisa T said...

YES! Glad to hear you can run!

I fidget with the shoes too. Can't stop. Always fidgeting.

Kim said...

yay marit! what a great victory!

Runner Leana said...

You are so not alone on this! I had a stress fracture in my right ankle and once I tried running outside after it had healed I would constantly be doing a self assessment. Does it hurt? Is it swollen? Let's stop to look at it and give it a bit of a massage.

As soon as I learned to let go every run was better from there on out. But strangely enough I still get an ache there when the weather turns, generally for the colder. And it has been 3.5 years now..??

Congrats on moving past that mental block and getting a good run in!!

BriGaal said...

yay for no pain!! I heart running - probably as much as you do :)