5:10 a.m. and the alarm clock sounded on Wednesday morning.  I had been up for about 15 minutes watching the numbers tick forward from 4:55.  I had traveled back to Austin on Tuesday night, met by Dawn and Landry at the Austin airport and gotten home around 8:00 p.m. or so.

Landry is cutting a couple of bottom teeth right now and had a little bit of trouble falling asleep last night – pretty rare for our little one actually – but it wasn’t the greatest night of sleep.

Wednesday morning would only be my second run back since the Cooper River Bridge Run on Saturday.  It would be my first training run back on my home course on the Brushy Creek Trail since my 2-mile shakeout run on February 19th, the day before the Austin Marathon.

Anxiety level Wednesday morning?  High.

It’s funny when you are a runner coming off of an injury as there are all kinds of phantom pains and “tingling” that you feel in the affected area.  I’m not sure exactly how many of them are true feelings and how many of them are imagined.  But I would venture to guess that it is at least a 50-50 proposition.

I lay there trying to determine how my knee would feel when my feet hit the floor, flexing my knee, massaging it with my fingers, hoping that today was the day where I would be completely symptom free.

After a couple of flights back from the East Coast yesterday I was happy that there was no swelling or tightness.  Sometimes the altitude changes when I fly will make my feet swell or muscles sore if I’m in heavy training for a marathon.  But as I made my way to the bathroom to brush my teeth and get ready for my run, my knee felt great.

50 degree weather with a stiff breeze from the south called for shorts and a long sleeve running shirt.

I laced up my Brooks Ghost 3’s for the first time in over a month, strapped on my GPS and hit the street.

I am still at the point in my recovery where I am constantly analyzing my gait.  Each footfall sends a message back to my brain and I am interpreting every little shake and shimmy.

The miles ticked along quickly, all right around 7:00 min./mile pace.  I tweaked my route just a bit so that miles 2 and 4 would take me close to the house so that if I did feel the need to shut things down it would be easy to do so.

Nothing worse than being 2 or 3 miles from home and having to walk back.

My knee held steady throughout and I can say that this is the strongest it has felt since pre-injury.

5 miles in 34:50 (6:57 pace).  Pretty solid workout after so much time off.

So officially I feel like I am on my way back.

The next race that I have on my calendar is the Congress Avenue Mile on May 21st.  Six full weeks away, plenty of time to build back my mileage base and then mix in some hill work and tempo runs prior to race day.

I was hoping to really let it all hang out this year at the CAM – shooting for something just over 5:00 minutes after last year’s 5:24 in my first attempt at the distance.  Perhaps things will come together and I can really push hard over the final 2 weeks leading up to race day.

But right now the prescription is for patience.

I need to build my run days and my mileage slowly.  Make sure I hit the gym for strength training and use the Tri-bike for cross training.

Staying smart right now is what I need to do, reminding myself that the real goal is to hit NYC Marathon Training full speed later this summer.

So for now I will not run on back-to-back days for at least two weeks and gradually build my weekend long runs back to double digits.

It is a hard thing not jumping back in to 40-50 mile run weeks as I know that is what was helping me improve as a runner over the past year.  But for now all that a schedule like that would ensure is more knee pain and more time off.

It’s a tough lesson to learn.  Quite honestly, one that even two years ago I would not have been able to stick with.  I would be rushing back, looking for a shortcut or two to get back out there faster.

Running like most things in life has revealed one great certainty to me over the last year or so.

There are no shortcuts.

  1. David H. says:

    Coming back from my injury, I feel like I am constantly thinking about whether something hurts or whether it’s just mental. I’m close to the thoughts finally coming to an end. Nice job continuing to get out there so early in the morning!

    • joerunfordom says:

      Thanks David for the visit and the encouragement! Hang in there – you are really close to being all the way back – kudos to you managing that injury the way it needed to be managed. So much easier said than done for us type-A runner-types. Take good care!

  2. Jodi Higgins says:

    You are running smart Joe and that takes a true athlete to do! I respect your comeback and the fact that you are refusing to take shortcuts. You are goin to be back stronger than ever soon!!

    • joerunfordom says:

      Thanks Jodi! This has been one of the more frustrating injuries as I was running so well when it struck, but we’ll be back by Labor Day and then some. Looking forward to working hard and droppign those times even further this summer. Take good care and enjoy yourself out there. That is what it is all about!

  3. Cortney says:

    I’m so glad your knee is cooperating! I played volleyball at Brushy Creek the other day. It’s beautiful! I think I’ll be out there a lot this summer. Oh, and I LOVE my Ghost 3s. I’m on my 3rd pair of them.

  4. onelittlejill says:

    I love the line “the prescription is patience” love it!

    • joerunfordom says:

      Hi Jill! You know me, always trying to push the envelope. Having to dial it back a little is good for me. Will need to remember this when I’m racing my next marathon. Stay cool early, kick butt late.

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