After taking off three days from running because of knee pain and general laziness, today I went out for my long run with fear and trepidation. After a first terrible and painful mile with lots of stops and starts, I eventually settled into a rhythm and banged out 11 almost pain-free miles.
I have never been so happy to run 12 miles. They were relatively slow (10:45 to 11:00 min miles) but maybe that’s another reason they were so enjoyable. But I think the main reason I was so happy is because I felt fine – not great, not even particularly good, just fine. And that felt wonderful.
Much is discussed about “runner’s high” and that great feeling you get from exercise, but what I think doesn’t get enough credit is the simple feeling of being pain-free. We don’t notice it enough because it is (luckily) the default feeling for most of us, but when you do encounter rare moments of pain in your life, the best feeling is simply the relief of not feeling. Those first few yards of running without knee pain today were sheer relief. The sun was shining, the birds were chirping, the tourists were clumping, the walkers were chatting (about Ben Affleck being the next Batman – “Everybody’s gonna see the movie at least once, because I mean, it’s Batman and Superman in the same movie, man.”), the bikers were swerving, and the runners were running. And I was one of them.
Today I had a DNF (Did Not Finish). Granted, it was during a training run, so it wasn’t particularly heartbreaking, but in other ways it was even more disappointing because it means my knee pain is back with a vengeance I pulled the plug 0.3 miles into a scheduled 6-miler, and while I probably could have pushed it out like I did last time, I just wasn’t in the mood.
For the past month I’ve been working with a running coach for the first time ever. He provides me with a training plan every two weeks and I’ve been diligently following it. It’s been a great motivator, because when I’m my own coach it’s extremely easy to skip a workout… or two… or even three in a single week, but when I’m being held accountable by someone else, I have to follow the plan or suffer the embarrassment of admitting that I skipped a workout for no good reason other than laziness.
The first few weeks were great, but recently I’ve started feeling tired and nervous that I’m hurting my knee, and questioning the schedule my coach gives me. I’ve had brief email exchanges with him about it, but I only pay $40/month for his coaching, and I’m not sure what else he could really say anyway. It’s not his fault my motivation is lagging. And ultimately it’s not going to be him who has to run my upcoming marathons.
So today, I listened to my own body and my own mind. Tomorrow, I’m going to go out and try again. Also, I’m going to push up my schedule by one day to accommodate my weekend plans. I used to shift around my training runs all the time, and that was okay because it was my own plan, but now I feel guilty. It’s a balancing act I’m still getting used to, but hopefully it will all pay off the next time I toe the starting line.
Do you work with a coach? How do you balance what you feel and what your training plan or coach tells you to do? Share your experiences in the comments!
I don’t even know what to say about this morning’s run. It was supposed to be what qualifies as speedwork for me now (6 miles starting at a 10:30 pace and working down to 9:30). Everything started out great. I was doing the Central Park loop clockwise, heading down the north hills at mile 2.5 when my left knee started hurting. Considerably hurting. I stopped to walk and shake it out a bit, then tried running again. It still hurt. So I walked more, cursing all the bad decisions I had made recently – skipping my core workout yesterday, eating too many cookies and chocolates, not getting enough sleep. I tried running again – still too painful. I started making grand promises – no more sweets, only cucumbers and air from now on. Double up on the strength exercises. No more procrastination. At the steepest uphill, I tried running again – not so bad. Actually, not bad at all.
I was careful not to overstride but tried to keep my pace up, constantly monitoring my form and checking if there was any lingering pain. For the most part, there was no more pain. A couple of twinges cropped up at mile 5, but I felt so good in the crisp 65 degree weather I kept going, finishing up my 6 miles with a 9:00 pace.
I’m icing my knee now, trying to remember all those promises I made to myself (and reminding myself that 1 pound of weight creates 4 to 5 pounds of force on the knee), but I don’t have any cucumbers, and some chocolate with almonds would really hit the spot right now…
Today was my LSR, or Long Slow Run. At this point it seems like all of my runs are long and slow, but today’s was officially longerer and slowerer. I ran two full loops in Central Park (12 miles), along with at least half of the rest of the city (some were on bikes). It was a beautiful day and I really have nothing to complain about, so instead I’ll tell you the most interesting thing I saw on my run – a woman in jean shorts just blowing past me like I was walking (I probably was walking). She wore regular running shoes and a normal tech-fabric running shirt, but those denim shorts! She looked chafing in the eye, and gave zero f’s. Today, I salute her. Run on, denim jean shorts lady, run on.