Two weeks ago today, I ran 13 miles. I was proud of that because I had to walk part of the half marathon. Last week, when I ran my fastest 5K ever, my leg hurt a good part of the way, until it finally loosened up.
So I backed off. Skipped Sunday. Ran a decent pace Tuesday–five miles. And then went out for an easy run Wednesday. I’m discovering that easy runs are important. Something about slow-twitch muscle movement. But when I’ve done them, usually the day after a long run, I feel outstanding afterward.
Except Wednesday. I came back Wednesday with a muscle strain in my left calf and a painful left thigh and hip. The left thigh and hip have been with me since the thirteen-miler. The muscle strain was a delightful new thing.
So, finally, I did what a reasonable person would do. I shut it down.
I have two running friends who are taking a running cruise right now. The shore excursions are runs. Except for the fact that it’s hot where they’re running, I’m insanely jealous.
Also, low temperatures have been in the 40s the past two days–my absolute happy zone, running wise.
And yet I’m not running. I have to pull back.
Part of this is age. I can’t just ignore aches and pains like I used to. But a bigger part is the bigger picture. In order to run more later, I need to not run now.
It’s hard, because soon it will be horrible outside every single day. And I’ll pine for the days when I don’t come back soaked to death–the halcyon days when I could carry a quicker pace without crapping out way too soon.
These are those days.
But the whole point of running is to take care of myself–to do something for myself. Kind of like the whole point of working is to provide for myself and my family (well, myself and my wife now).
So running is a tool, then, to be used intelligently. And if I’m getting hurt, I’m not getting better.
And if I’m cranky and mad and stressed about work, then I’m not taking care of myself and my wife.
So my lesson right now, as I wish I were in my eight or nine, is well-received. Keep the bigger things in mind.