She’s climbing, running, striving, straight up the hill, waiting to reach its heavenly descent. I’m climbing, running, striving, straight up the hill, waiting to reach its heavenly descent. We’re climbing, running, striving straight up the hill, waiting to reach its heavenly descent. As we take our few last steps upwards, we meet at the arduously long hills’ crest. With just a quick glance, we know. In between a brief breath, “Been waiting for a day like this for awhile.” With a slight shake of our heads, we nod, smile, and just as soon as we met, we pass. On that same very hill with a similar zeal, we both begin the wonderfully welcomed descent, running, striding, climbing downwards, moving in opposite directions, but both holding that one same smile on our faces.
It’s feeling a lot like spring here in southern PA, and I’m LOVING it! Spring has to be one of my favorite seasons, possibly my all-time favorite. Perfect, sunny days and warm spring rains, flowers and the aromatic scents that go with them, butterflies and birds, opening tree buds and fresh, green grass, the beginning of plant-ripened fruit and veggies, etc. etc…I mean, what’s not to love? If you’re a friend of mine or a follower of my blog, you’ll know I’m in love with running and all things outdoors, and for this I want to give a shout-out to Spring, that wonderful season that provides me with the perfect weather to do these outdoor activities.
After taking a little over a month off of running, this precursor spring weather made it so I couldn’t help myself but to start running again. Coming off of an injury, I was really nervous about getting back into it, but this weather seemed just too good to pass up. For the past couple days, it’s been reaching the low 60’s…Hello perfect running weather! However, I didn’t want to start running again and find myself still injured, making my efforts to not run for the entire previous month and half futile. But, I decided to take the weather as a sign that I should test my luck and start running again.
To my surprise, after a solid four miles on my first run, I felt great and my previously injured knee did too. What surprised me even more was the fact that after a whole month of zero running, my lungs allowed me to keep quickly striding for over thirty minutes without stopping. I expected to make it two miles or so before I would have to slow down and start walking. This was one of the very reasons why I was initially so bummed when I got an injury and came to the conclusion that I should stop running all together to fully let it heal. I didn’t want all of my hard work to practically be wasted and have to start the challenging process of increasing my endurance all over again when I returned to running. Luckily, that hard work wasn’t for nothing and my body isn’t making me do this!
This has taught me that taking a break is absolutely OKAY. In fact, it’s probably just what I needed. Obviously it has helped to heal my knee, but the time has also helped me to build some extra energy, enough that allowed me to immediately return to a moderate distance and pace once I started running again. During my month and a half off, I mainly occupied the empty time slot with yoga. While yoga isn’t homogeneous to running, it suited me fine in keeping my muscles strong and my heart healthy. For all of you injured runners out there who are avoiding taking an inevitable break to heal, just know that you can stay in shape without running!
I must admit, at first I really longed to keep running. Every time I saw a runner pass me by, I’d think to myself, “I want to be doing that!” But once I let myself relax and come to terms with the fact that I wouldn’t be running for the next couple months, I began to actually enjoy the break. Through yoga, I felt my body lengthening, toning, and becoming lean in so many subtly different ways than before. And when I returned to running, after over a month of just doing yoga (I probably only did the elliptical just once the whole time off!), I was still able to run, without all the extreme huffing and puffing I had expected.
The did feel little tight/sore after my first run after the break. Since I was previously a consistent distance runner, I rarely felt sore the day after a run, unless for some reason I decided to do a few sprints the day before. So I hadn’t really felt soreness from a distance run since I first started getting into running. It actually felt really good to feel a little sore! My muscles felt alive, and it made my yoga practice feel amazing. I almost wish I could feel this subtle soreness more often.
I probably ran a little over 13 miles last week, the first week of getting back into running. I just finished another 5-miler outside in this beautiful, sunny spring weather today. My knee started to feel just a tad funny towards the end of my run but never got to the point of pain. However, I’m taking this as a sign that I really need to ease back into running so that the injury doesn’t redevelop and ensue pain. That’s brings me to the key of fixing an injury: Listening to your body. So many people, particularly runners, just try to trudge through their injury. However, this typically only ends up prolonging the injury.
I’m glad I took the latter part of winter to heal my injury. If I didn’t, I’d probably end up sitting out during the spring, which I would absolutely HATE. If you are struggling with an injury, you may want to consider taking the next few weeks to fully nurse your body back to health. While you don’t need to listen to my advice, trust me, it will be worth it later! Do you really want to end up immobile during the spring and summer months, when the weather is warm and the sun is calling your name? It’s so so so much easier to lay off when the weather outside isn’t ideal. Don’t think it’s too late. There’s still almost two weeks until the first day of spring (March 21), and even this doesn’t necessarily mark the start to perfect weather (although we can certainly have hope).
Even if you’re not injured, you may want to consider taking a few full days to slow down and nourishing your body so that you can start the spring season at your prime. If you’re an injured runner and are ready to make the commitment to stop and let yourself heal (yes, I know it’s hard), check out my Tips for Injured Runners post. You’ll be thanking yourself in a few weeks when natural warmth arrives and you’re running down the road, worry free, feeling great.