Friday and Saturday were my first back-to-back running days and I learned that I do really need at least one recovery day in between runs still. My body didn't feel as heavy as it had on Friday, but my right leg was definitely bothering me right from my first interval, from shin splints to my knee to what felt like shin splints in my thigh bone. Since it's just my right leg, I have to believe that I'm overcompensating for the bursitis/tendonitis in my left hip, so I'll have to keep an eye on that. After all my talk about the power of positive thinking, I kept up an encouraging running commentary in my head, telling myself that I could make it through each interval and finish strong. I was definitely hurting by the time I got home though, so I'm glad to have today to rest! Last night, I took a much-needed hot bath to relax my muscles and focused on massaging and stretching my legs, so today, I'm feeling better.
Today's weather is also beautiful, so I headed to the beach with my puppy, who's had a limp of his own for a few weeks and has been sequestered in the house because of it. He loves all the beach smells, so I packed him up in the car and headed up the road, which also gave me the chance to measure the distance that I run in the morning. It looks like I'm running/walking about 2 1/4 to 2 1/2 miles! The puppy and I ran a bit up and down the beach (not too much because of his leg, and because he's a basset hound, so his endurance levels are actually lower than mine). It's only a short stretch of beach here, but it made me think that in the summer, I could drive to the island and run on the sand when I really want to punish myself. I can only imagine how that will kick my butt, but I'm sure it's got to be great to run by the water, especially in the early morning in the summer!
So now it's time for my weekly recap of what I've learned from week four!
- A bad day of running doesn't stop me from liking it overall. In four weeks, I'm already feeling stronger, proud of myself for sticking with the couch potato plan, and more capable of running in a 5k (in April, let's not get ahead of ourselves), and eventually, the 18 mile LBI run! All of those benefits, plus increased endorphins, far outweigh my previous dislike of running, and it seems that running now helps to make me happier. Who knew.
- I still need at least one recovery day to get my body back to where it needs to be to effectively run my intervals, and I can't take recovery lightly. Stretching, massage and yoga are just as essential to helping me run as a good pair of sneakers, so I can't blow them off. I can't imagine how I would have felt yesterday if I hadn't taken the time to stretch and massage my legs on Friday.
- Nutrition is also key to running, even more so than I'd thought, and making sure I get enough protein isn't as painful as I thought it would be. I like thinking about the way food can be used to fuel my body, which is a much healthier way of thinking. And it turns out there are a lot of proteins out there that I like already. I've eaten about 35 grams of protein today already!
- Weather has an impact on running, but it doesn't have to put a huge damper in my plans. Whenever I'd tried an outside exercise program before (running, walking, whatever), bad weather was always a reason to skip a day, and then put the kibosh on the whole workout. In the past, I would have let something like the foot of snow we had on Monday keep me from running until it had almost all melted, i.e. Friday or Saturday. But because I have people pushing me and rooting for me, I made myself get out there on Wednesday and I realized that I could safely run on the bike paths. Who knew? Similarly, I would have let a rainy day stop me from getting out and running. I haven't had to face one yet, but with rain forecasted for at least two of my running days this week, I know it's only a matter of time. And I actually want to stick to the plan and run anyway!
- I've always known that positive thinking is important, but never have I seen it illustrated as well as when I run. I can actually feel a change in my body when I switch my thinking from "Ugh, I am NEVER going to make it. My body hurts. I'm too tired. I can't do this!" to "You CAN do this! You'll feel great when you finish this interval. Finish strong!" That's been invaluable to me this week, helping me to be excited about ramping up to the next week's workouts instead of dreading them. Well, mostly. But, when I first started the couch potato program, I never thought I'd be able to run for 5 minutes at a time and now I can. As long as I do the work, I see improvement, so I know that there will come a time when I can run a 5k. And then an 18-mile run. And even improve on my times!
So this week, it looks like I'm up to only five minute intervals (did I really just write "only??"), with three minutes of walking in between. This, I can do! Even scarier? Last night, I had a dream that I was running. My biggest worry was that I didn't have a way to time myself for my interval, but I decided I would keep running anyway. Oh man...