I took it easy for five days. I didn’t do any kind of exercise the five days following the marathon. I knew I needed to because of how bad things had gone for me last Sunday. IT Band pain means you need to rest it in order for it to get better. There’s really no other way about it. IT Band pain comes from repeated motion (ie. running) and usually hits you in the knee, but mine seems to always start in my hip and then travel down to my knee. That’s what happened on Sunday. So I knew what it was and I know how it eventually goes away. I have to rest it.
But I wanted to run. I needed to run. After six days of not running I wanted to get back out there. I think it was to prove to myself that last Sunday was just a case of bad luck. I rode the stationary bike and did a regular circuit last night in preparation for today’s run. I wanted to be ready for it.
It almost sounds like I was preparing for a fight, doesn’t it? Maybe I was, to some extent. Running is not an easy sport. It’s punishing on the body. Ask any runner and they’ll say the same thing. So, I guess, in a way we do have to prepare ourselves for each run.
It was nice and cool today. In fact, it was the kind of cool that I wish we’d had the day of the marathon. I ran in shorts and a long-sleeved shirt. By the time I was into the second mile I was warm. Not hot, but a comfortable warm. The entire time I was running I was also nervous about the hip pain I had experienced the day of the marathon returning. I maintained a slower pace than usual in an effort to not activate the injury. I know what you’re thinking, You probably shouldn’t have run at all. But I did and you know what? It was fine. In fact, it was better than fine. It was good.
It was good for a couple of reasons. The first being that I ran with no pain. Granted it was an easy 4.5 miles that I did, but it was pain-free. That already was a good thing. The second was because of how I felt as I ran. I felt the weight of last Sunday’s disappointment slowly wash off me with each mile that I ran. It felt so good to be back out there that I didn’t care how slow I may have been going. And I realized something else. Why this year had been so lousy for me, my finish times, I mean. It was because I had disrespected the run. I had taken it for granted. I had taken for granted that I could run and didn’t do the work required to do it the right way. I had slacked off on my strength training. I had gotten lazy. So my run paid the price. Well, I learned my lesson. You can’t disrespect the run. Not if you want to do well when you’re out there on the road. To be able to run, and to run well, is a privilege. To do it well you have to earn it. I plan to.
I will earn each finish. I will do what I need to do in order to not hurt myself, in order to do it right. Because every run is important. And running has helped me in so many ways already. So many that I can’t not have it be a part of my life. So I will respect it for what it is and what it’s done for me. Because it’s important to respect the things you love.