Learning NOT to Run

Today's training run was supposed to be nine miles.

I woke up a little later than planned, ate a quick breakfast and got running suit-ed up. Compression socks, Halo headband, GPS watch, spandex and plenty of neon made me look like the real deal (or something). With my water bottle, iPod, and some mid-run fuel in hand, I headed over to a nearby state park to begin my workout.

My plan was to take it easy - I wanted to set an 11:30 minute/mile pace. This week, I've been running faster than that but, due to some pain and tightness in my left leg, I knew the only chance of getting through would be to take it slow and easy.

My first mile was right on pace but I could feel my leg tightening during my walk interval. As I started my second run interval, I noticed that my left glute was starting to feel off. Near the end of the nine-minute cycle, I alternated between walking and running several times. All the while, arguing with myself about whether I was fighting through some mental block or if there was a physical problem that needed to be addressed.

Maybe running would help with the pain and tightness. At least, that's what one part of me was saying. The other part was reminding me that the problem's a couple of weeks old, getting progressively worse, and a few days off now could help me heal and reach my goal of finishing my first half marathon in five weeks and my longer term goal of running/being active for the rest of my life.

At the end of my second mile, I reached a bench. Frustrated and ready to cry, I sat down. When I stood up, I started walking back the way I'd come.

Every time I passed someone running or biking, I wished I had a sign that said, "I'm injured, not a crazy, geared-out walker! Please don't judge me."

It was so stinkin' hard to decide to cut that run short. I've run nine miles before. There are still five weeks before the half marathon. I'm in fine shape to get it done and will probably be in better shape if I don't push too hard on a verging-on-injured leg. But... still... I wanted those five miles that I missed. I wanted to get it done in a good time. I wanted to make it to 80 miles this month.

Eight months ago, the hard thing would have been pushing through those nine miles (or, let's be honest, pushing through one mile). Today, the hardest part was listening to my body and NOT running. Who'd have ever thought that would be so difficult?
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