I think one of the hardest things about coming back from an injury is knowing when you can “trust” your recovering body part to hold up to the rigors of a tough workout or a race. It is almost one of those things where you have to get close enough where you feel more or less confident, but until you cut it loose, there is always going to be a doubt in your mind.
Part of the problem is that the fear of re-aggravating the recovering area means more time away from the sport – and after a layoff of 5 weeks in my case, that is something I have basically no interest in for a long, long time.
But the other problem is that we forget that very rarely as runners do we feel “perfect” before a tough workout or race. Truth be told, more times than not there is some part of my body that I am monitoring. Sometimes for months on end. A strained abdominal muscle was the most recent example where I trained all summer long with the condition and even raced the Kerrville Half-Ironman with it.
I simply learned that there was a difference between “pain” and “injury” and knew my limits in pushing the former and not the latter.
Right now I would say that my Achilles strain is 95% recovered. There is the occasional tightness after a run, a little bit in the morning, but if I had not had a full-on sprain in December and January, I would not even notice these symptoms right now. I would just go about my day as an amateur endurance athlete and train on.
But right now I need that one workout or that one race to let me know that I am back. That I can turn it loose and there will be no reprisals. I might not be hitting my splits right now and I might not be in PR shape – but the only way I really know to do that is to race.
So, I’m going to hop into a local 5K on March 2nd – the Texas Independence Day 5K downtown where the Back on My Feet Team Members will be racing in their first organized event. We’ll then tee it up again on three weeks later at the Thin Mint Spring 5K on March 23rd and compare our performances.
If we are anywhere near 18:30 by then, it will be a huge win, albeit far short of our 18:02 we posted in December. We still will know going into the Cooper River Bridge Run on April 6th that we are healthy and pretty close to our previous fitness level. At that point our Achilles strain should be firmly in the past tense and we can move forward and race fearlessly.
So to help me get excited about the prospect of racing again, and not fearful of the endeavor – we received inspiration in a box from the good folks at Brooks.
A shiny new pair of Brooks T7 Racers – in our favorite optic yellow and black. All that is left to do is write D.V.D. 8-15-10 on each instep in honor of our boy Dom and we will be ready to give it our best shot in a couple of weeks.
I’m not sure “Boom goes the dynamite” is the right phrase right now, but there might be a little snap, crackle and pop in store on Texas Independence Day.