Don’t Call It a Comeback

I feel like I lost time this summer. The entire month of July feels like it was lost. Most of August as well. It was hot, and humid, as it always is in Maryland over the summer. I stayed mostly indoors. 

Back in June, I made a decision that I needed to stop running because I’d overworked my legs to the point that my shin splits hurt with every step regardless of whether I was running or walking. I broke down and saw an actual doctor about it. 

We confirmed that I did not have stress fractures with an X-ray and he recommended that I add metatarsal pads to my insoles, cut my mileage in half and do half of that as walking rather than running. I heard that solid and thoughtful advice but I took it to an extreme (because black and white thinking is my specialty) and stopped all activity. 

At the same time, I let my diet go to shit. I ate copious amounts of ice cream, lots of fries and burgers, and more ice cream. I didn’t track my calories. I didn’t run. I didn’t ride the bike. My waist grew two inches and I put on ten pounds. 

After six weeks the doctor gave me the clearance to start running again, but he cautioned me to go slow, do short runs, and walk as well as run — basically start training as if I was new at this. And I didn’t want to hear that. 

My first run was a scant mile with a five minute walking warmup and a ten minute cool down, also walking. But I ran at a 9.54 minute pace, which isn’t fast by most measures but it was about where I’d been when it was at peak fitness. Getting below a 10 minute mile was a goal that took me two years to achieve, because I’m in my late forties. 

My shin flavored up, predictably, and I don’t run again for 19 days. Then I went out for a longer  run and ran 8.52 miles. And my shin hurt again. My next run was smarter, I went for a longer slower run and clocked in at 10.47.  And my shin hurt again. 

I decided last week that I needed to do something to address my declining fitness and my growing mass. I rejoined Noom, committing to a full year’s membership at a nice discount (by the way, they practically give away the program if you sign up and then quit) and committed to starting an exercise regimen again. 

I have failed miserably to keep my good intake at the right levels, far exceeding my calories and eating more of the foods that I should be eating less of and less of the foods that I should be piling on, but I know that bill get back in the swing of things with some effort. Planning, consistency, accountability, and effort are the name of this game. I can be good at them, when I’m motivated. 

Yesterday, I went for a road ride. As I left the door I told my wife, I may be gone got a while, maybe an hour and a half or more. But as I got into the ride I realized that going on a 20-25 mile ride the first time out in months was probably a horribly bad idea. So, I did my usual 13 mile ride and came home. And I felt good physically and psychologically. 

This morning, I programmed my Garmin for four sets of 5 minutes of running between 10.30 and 11.30/mile and 3 minutes of recovery (walking). I immediately found myself running at 8.52 and had to dial it way back. It felt like I was crawling. My Garmin helpfully alerted me that my performance level was -5 and I ignored that little bitch and stayed the course. A few times on the run, I felt my shin and I adjusted my stride and landing to compensate and it felt better. I’m currently icing down. 

We’ll see if I did the right thing later today, but I think I did. It’s going to be slow going for a while and I am going to turn off training status on my Garmin devices so that it doesn’t tell me that I’m losing fitness when I’m actually gaining fitness as I recover from the injury. 

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