I am as much –if not more — a fan of Kristin Armstrong as I am her famous husband. (He’s pretty big in the cycling community. You’ve probably heard of him. But that’s not why we’re here.)
I read her blog religiously. In fact, it is one of the great ones that inspired me to start writing my own. (Of course, hers is published on Runners World, while mine is dedicated to this tiny, quiet corner of cyberspace. One can always dream, right?)
Last week, she wrote a fantastic piece on the “Ten Steps” of transition. It was all about how to handle change, whether in your running life or your regular life. One of the steps she kept coming back to was gratitude. After acknowledging that transition is upon you, find at least three things to be thankful for to help you maintain perspective. After completing the other steps (managing fear, visualizing success, and surrounding yourself with good people, to name a few), return to gratitude.
Her words resonated with me because about a year ago, I tried to make a habit of finding three things to be thankful for at the end of each day. I didn’t write them down, though I probably should have. I simply laid in bed, reflected on the day, and said a quiet ‘thank you’. Unfortunately, it was easy to get derailed with the busyness and exhaustion of life, and I fell off the wagon quite a while ago.
I returned to her words about gratitude this week when I started a course of physical therapy. I’m probably being paranoid, but my calves and IT band have been talking to me more than I like, especially during my long runs. Once I hit the two-week point, I knew I had to address the situation before I got sidelined indefinitely. (My marathon is less than two months away!!!)
Yesterday, I started a one-week course of treatment that promises to have me back to normal — if not better than ‘normal’ — in short order. It wasn’t until the end of the session that this exchange ensued:
Dr. D: Now, about your training. Most people are relieved when I tell them this, but I have a feeling you won’t like it. I need you slow down, and you can’t do any hill training or speed work for one week.
Me: You’re right; I don’t like that one bit. I’m the coach, and we have hill repeats tomorrow. How am I supposed to do that?!? I thought you said I wasn’t injured.
Dr. D: You’re not injured . . . yet. And, if you want to stay that way, you’ll follow the treatment plan. Do you want to just patch things up and get to your goal race, or do you want to prevent this from happening again so that you can keep running the rest of your life? It’s only one week, and you can still run the mileage, just not on hills.
I knew he was right, but I (admittedly) got a little cranky. All I could think was how . . . I didn’t want to miss a workout. My marathon has some intense hills, so I need all the practice I can get. I didn’t want to answer a million questions from my runners about whether I was injured and why I wasn’t doing the hill repeats with them. And, besides, how would he ever know that I did it?
When I was still waning that night, Brad quickly reminded that without my health, nothing else matters. Dr. D’s advice should have been enough, but, somehow, it always helps when my biggest fan is on board. He knows how much I love to run, but also senses when I’m on the cusp of over-training and injury. So, thanks for always talking me off the ledge. 😉
You’ll be proud and relieved to know that, this morning, I did not run hill repeats. I ran the warm up and cool down, but I diligently stood at the bottom of the hill and supported my group while they did the hill workout. After their run, I got in a few extra miles on flat ground at my slower, recovery pace.
On the drive home, I thought about gratitude. I have so many things to be thankful for in my running/training life:
- I can still run. Because I was proactive in recognizing the signs of potential injury and am addressing it immediately, it will not derail my training. With so many of my running friends currently sidelined with more serious injuries, I can hardly complain!
- I can focus on my group. Not doing the hill work myself meant that I was more focused on their form, breathing, and pace. This was a great reminder of why I started coaching in the first place.
- I have been running for a year and a half without any major setbacks or injuries. (If you’d knock on some wood for me now, I’d greatly appreciate it. Thanks.)
- I love cross-training as much as running. Cycling has given me another avenue to maintain fitness without the impact. And, I’ve finally reached the point where I get a high at the end of a good ride. It’s not the same as my runner’s high, but I ‘need’ it just the same. (Yes, I’m an addict, but I there are far worse things that I could be addicted to, so I’m gonna roll with it.)
Whether you are facing change in your running life, your personal life, or your professional life, remember :: All things start and end with a little gratitude.