Regular readers of this blog will know that I have been really struggling with running. First I tried to increase speed and distance too fast and had achilles issues, then I started having cramping throughout my runs causing me to have to stop and stretch repeatedly, slowing me down and making me dread running even more than I normally do. I felt like I was working hard and suffering and making very little progress.
The physical therapy was definitely helping (shout out to the team at Body Solutions for being completely awesome!) but not relieving the cramps completely. When I was changing out my insoles I had realized that even with the high arch insoles, my freakishly high arches weren’t being completely supported, and I realized that could definitely start the chain reaction that ended with calf cramps. so I started to look at product options and came upon Mueller Plantar Fasciitis arch support bands.
The Mueller bands offer extra arch support and upward pressure on the arch. I tried them three weeks ago and the cramping was immediately much better. After the second mile I didn’t have any cramping at all. I’ve heard runners talking about “ticking off miles” but I never experienced anything that I would describe as such until that run. A couple times I was surprised when my app told me that another mile had passed (typically I check my progress multiple times during any given mile.) As I reached the last mile I felt like I had a lot of “gas in the tank” so I decided to run it as hard as I could and it was the fastest mile I’ve run so far.
One of the things that I had been doing to accommodate the cramping was starting my runs off slowly. Last week I decided that I was tired of having a slow first mile dragging down my average pace so I decided to go out as hard as I could and that if I had to stop and stretch more I would, and if I faded at the end that’s just how it would go. I had a little trouble with cramping for the first couple miles but then the cramps went away and I felt great. I was pushing both the run and the walk intervals and at one point I actually forgot to stop running when it was time for the walk interval (trust me when I tell you that this was unprecedented.) I felt great and I had shaved 54 seconds off my per mile pace.
Last night I headed out again for my long run. I was a little terrified the my times last week were a fluke. For whatever reason I felt really tired and my legs felt like lead. The combination of these things and my new strategy of going out as fast as I could meant that I really pushed the first mile. It was more than a minute faster than my first mile the week before. I set a secondary timer on my iPod just to make sure that there wasn’t something wrong with my app (I run the same loop every time so I knew that the distance was correct. ) The second mile was even faster, and the third mile faster than that. The times on both devices matched up exactly – I was running negative splits and each one was a PR. Then it caught up with me and despite my best effort I wasn’t able to keep up the time. Still, my average pace was still 50 seconds faster than my run the week before. And I had definitely solved the problem of having too much gas in the tank at the end, I all but dragged myself into the house.
I can’t even explain how happy I am about this. I still wouldn’t characterize myself as liking running, but after months of being in constant pain, of improving my times only incrementally, while my runs were just hours of suffering with one thing after another going wrong, months of trying to stay positive and look on the bright side and keep believing that if I just kept working hard and pushing through the pain that it would get better – and reconciling myself to the fact that if things didn’t get better I would still find a way to the finish line – things are finally really improving. There’s light at the end of the tunnel and it’s not a train.
Typically I “joke” that the minute that I finish my long run is the best minute of my whole week because it is the time of the week that is the longest from my next long run. Now I’m actually looking (at least a little bit) forward to next week’s long run to see what I can do.
Three great runs in a row y’all! I’d like to thank the academy, my family (including ChadShannel Royale who is the model in today’s picture,) everyone who is supporting me, and my body for putting up with my ridiculous goals and dreams.
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