I have felt stuck in my twenties for a while – like seriously, it’s been a long time. It wasn’t a completely wasted period – I made some progress, but unfortunately it sometimes felt like a one step forward two steps back sort of deal. Thankfully though, I’ve now gotten over that hill and am whole-heartedly embracing my weeks in the thirties! Miles! mind you…Definitely not years in case that’s what you were thinking. I still have approximately 9 months, 7 days, and 4 hours till my 30th birthday…not that I’m counting.
I admit that I might be a hypochondriac – OK, it’s a fact. I looked up hypochondria on WebMD, read the symptoms, and determined that Oh yeah, I definitely have this! But shin pain around my old lower stress fracture – not imagined. Not phantom. It’s been real real real. And I’ve tried burying my head in the sand and forcing myself to run through the pain (like that’s a good idea), but every time I just end up having to take an even longer break from running because I didn’t listen to my body.
I often think of one of my dear friends and a night in college when she sat her butt down in the middle of the road on the way home from a bar. She planted herself there in the street, refusing to move while clinging to her bag of tortilla chips from a late-night Mexican joint and staring up at us with huge, brown pitiful eyes. That’s exactly how I have felt when experiencing significant shin pain – minus the chips of course. I have figuratively plopped my rear down in the middle of the street and refused to run because I’ve been in so much pain and my body has been screaming at me to not take another step.
Thus, even though there are a lot of runners whose first thought would be “What happened THAT week?!” if they logged weekly mileage in only the thirties, for me, putting in over 30 miles in a week is a HUGE accomplishment and a stride in the right direction.
The nice thing about focusing only on getting some easy miles under my feet is that every run is an enjoyable one. I wake up thinking “Yes! I get to run today!” And I’d wish away my Saturday nights if I could so that my Sunday morning “long runs” would come sooner.
While I am definitely not doing some secret speed work in my hood in the wee hours of the morning or late at night when either only bums or prostitutes could be the witness, I may have let a fartlek or two rip out on the trails – I’m serious. For all those TrailHeads out there who have been telling me for the last couple of years how great trail running is, I will now admit that you were right. Running on trails is so much fun (especially for a runner that spent months unable to run!) that it’s easy to be reckless and start flying down a straightaway when you pop out of the woods for a second. Even after I ate it when I let my guard down on what I thought was a super easy stretch of trail, I still loved communing with nature. That is until I stumbled across this pic…
Just like there are good things about every stage of life, there are still moments to appreciate when weekly mileage is just in the 30s. I’m thankful for the easy jogs down dirt trails with stunning lake views. And I excited when I feel my body stepping up to the plate and running effortlessly, smoothly, with my feet spinning quickly below me. Yes – I may have been out for a while, but my body still knows how to run. It’s definitely going to take some time – years in fact – before I feel satisfied with where I am, but for right now I’m just enjoying the trails I’m running to get there.