Know when to fold ’em.
This week was a transition week as we adjusted to the start of school. My mileage and training were not quite where I wanted it to be with the changes to our household schedule and a bit of a heatwave early on. No biggie. I’m exercising my flexibility muscle and trying to adapt to the little life challenges that come my way without letting them throw my completely off course.
At any rate, as is typical, my mileage ramped up the closer the weekend got. About three days ago, I started experiencing some tightness in my left quad so I played the precaution card and tried to make sure I was stretching a bit more and practiced extra mindfulness when I was running as to not aggravate it. That said, I was feeling really well prepared for my long run this morning. Adequately fueled, hydrated, mentally prepared and optimistic that I’d feel better than I did last week.
I ventured out about 6:10 this morning. The air cool, the streets still fairly quiet, the sun tucked behind the hills to the east. The plan was to run a 9.5 mile loop that would bring me back home to meet Mr. Wasn’t Just the Wine Talking who would run the last 6.5-ish miles with me. All was going according to plan when at around mile 7, I became plagued with a tightness above my right knee. RIGHT (not left) knee. I stretched and massaged it at every intersection that insisted that I wait to cross and pushed forward.
Somewhere in the 12-mile zone, we came upon a hill that forced me to change my stride. The tightness increased and things fell apart soon after. The discomfort migrated into my knee and I was forced to stop multiple times in an effort to stretch it out. I kept pushing forward, on the verge of tears, knowing that I was ultimately doing more harm than good. My pace dropped and I was limping. I told Mr. WJTWT that I’d run to 13 but then I was done.
I cried out of frustration, more than pain, for a few blocks and then walk/limped toward home, which at that point was about three miles away. We formulated a plan. My mister would run back home as I made my way to the Starbucks a few blocks away and then he’d come back and pick me up. I can’t recall, in all the years that I’ve been running, that I was forced to fetch a ride home because I couldn’t continue. But then and there, it was the most brilliant remedy to the situation.
While I waited for him to return, I iced my knee while drinking my latte and silently cursed at every person that ran by. (I know, not nice.)
He came with ibuprofen in hand. I’m such a lucky girl!
We sloooooowly walked over to the grocery store. It wasn’t pretty. I was feeling a ton of discomfort and pissed in general. In addition to dinner (and school lunch) provisions, I bought myself pity flowers and a bag of ice. (There may have been a very large bottle of champagne in the cart too.)
Once home, I filled the tub about halfway with cool water, got in and added three pounds of ice. I’m not sure if the ibuprofen kicked in or it was the ice bath itself, but I could barely walk just a couple of hours earlier and while I could still feel the tightness and soreness to the touch, I was able to walk without limping not long after I got out. What a difference a few hours makes.
The moral of my story is this: know when to hole ’em, know when to fold ’em.
I don’t know what the next few hours, or next few days, will bring but I’m certain that my decision to stop when things fell apart was the first smart choice I made this morning, no matter how frustrating and disappointing it was to cut my training run short. The second was icing as soon as possible and following that up with an ice bath once I returned home, not to mention the ibuprofen. (I rarely take ibuprofen or pain relievers but in this case, I could feel the inflammation and knew I needed something to help relieve it.) The third smart choice was the champagne. Just kidding. It is the recovery techniques that I’m diligent about following to aid in recovery… a post-run recovery meal, compression sleeves, a topical muscle pain/soreness ointment (I use Tiger Balm), legs up, rest, etc.
I’m moving cautiously but optimistic that because I chose to “fold ’em”, along with a chill afternoon and complete rest day tomorrow, I’ll be feeling good as new by Tuesday and ready for another week of training.