Back to running! (Guest post)

Only one year and a half ago I could not run. I had been injured in my right hip for a little more than one year causing me to limp from time to time. This limited the type of exercise I could do. If outdoors, I had to walk or cycle (which I love) and if indoors, I would use an elliptical or stairmaster. But I really missed running. I find it fun and meditative. I started running again in January 2014. I signed up as a client volunteer for a kinesiology class on personal training for people with injuries (I have blogged about my experiences before). My training team was big on interval training and they started me on a program in which we would alternate a few running laps on the 200m track with different types of exercises (core, weights, stability). The first time we did it, I ran and walked only 9 laps, i.e. 1.8km. But I made it and without pain the next day.

Before continuing on my progress, let me mention the shoes. At the beginning of the training sessions I bought myself a new pair of shoes. And this is where I realized what had caused my injury. I found that out when I went shopping in a proper store with someone who knew about the difference between supination, neutral pronation and over-pronation. It turns out that the shoes I had used before getting injured were for over-pronators while I have a neutral foot. I had no idea about such distinctions. I purchased the right kind of shoe: Asics Cumulus is my shoe. It is interesting because I had had that model a few years before and was entirely comfortable with them. Then I had decided to go for a cheaper and different brand for some reason and running with a shoe for over-pronator had injured me. Proper shoes are essential.

So with proper shoes and a patient approach to increasing my running capacity, I slowly brought myself to run 3.2 km. We did intervals up until April. Intervals were a mixture of walking, running slow and sprinting for each lap. I continued with this approach over the summer and fall, attempting long stretches a few times. The first time I was able to run 5km I was so happy with myself. I had been back to running for a little over 6 months. And I felt good about it and felt no pain whatsoever. In the fall, I attempted something new: running down and up the Niagara escarpment at Brock University. The total run was 6km. I was amazed at myself. This was accomplished a little less than a year back into running. Progress has continued over the fall and winter and I managed to run 8.5 km including the escarpment climb the other day. I have said this before: YAY me!

The things I have learned and that have allowed me to progress are really important:

Proper shoes: see above!

Proper breathing: in winter 2014 one of my trainers noted I was not breathing properly. I worked on correcting that by running on a threadmill and focusing on my breathing only for about 2 weeks. Now I do it right without a thought.

Puffer: I suffer from stress-induced asthma and stubbornness. This is a bad combination as it led me to want to run without using my puffer. I foolishly thought that the day I could go through a whole run without using my puffer would be the day I would be in shape. That was ignoring a physiological fact about breathing and my asthmatic lungs. I was unnecessarily putting myself in a situation of respiratory distress with the hope of accomplishing something my body could not. I refused to follow my physician’s advice and use my puffer before the run. This was stupid. Now that I do use it before, breathing is easy. And so is the running.

Patience: there is really no point to try to go back to running by overdoing it. The 1.8km initial runs may appear insignificant but they were not. They were what allowed me to slowly but surely get back into it. The gradual increase in distance and the interval training incorporating slower and faster running have increased my running capacity both in terms of endurance and speed.

One year and a half later, I am strong, fast, efficient and can go as long as 8.5 km. Wow! Patience paid out as did listening to my body’s needs. My goal for the summer is drawing nearer every time I go out, for a short or longer run: 10 km here I come!

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