I have never been so nervous for a track workout before. Never ever.
This morning was my first attempt at a track workout since August 8. That is two months ago exactly. And on August 8, I made it through one 800 and then the first lap of a second before coming to a grinding halt with awful pain in both feet. It hurt to walk to the car. I finally had to admit that I wasn't just sore, I was injured. I drove home from the track in tears of frustration.
Since then I have done lots of physical therapy, have taken lots of rest, have avoided all speedwork, and have slowly and carefully (with the help of my coach) built my mileage back up after the rest. We have thrown in a little bit of intensity the past two weeks, although there hasn't been any running under a 7:15 pace or so since my feet flared up any time I tried that back in August. Careful, careful has been the name of the game lately.
The feet had handled three weeks of moderate mileage and were still improving, and with Houston just under 15 weeks out, we figured it was time to give some speed a go.
The plan for today was 6x800m and Coach wanted me to run them at a 6:20-6:30 pace and only take 1 minute rest intervals. I have done significantly faster 800's (and usually do 8-10) but I knew that being cautious was smart so I listened to Coach.
Truth be told though, going into the workout I was super nervous about my feet (because if I had set myself back again I would be so discouraged and disappointed) but I was also super nervous about my speed, or lack there of. I have run slowly for the past four weeks (since I started running again) and I feel like a SLUG. I had a 15 miler this weekend which should not feel very long to me, and it did feel long and my paces were really slow. I was super happy to be running longer and having the feet be fine, but frustrated to feel like I have lost my zip. And my legs were SORE after the 15 miler - as if I had run much longer. Urgh. I was worried that the 6:20-6:30 pace would be super tough (especially with just 1 minute rest intervals).
I was nervous, but excited to try. So I was on the track at 5:30am in 32 degrees and tried to talk myself up through the 3-mile warm-up and plyometrics. I took off on the first 800 and my quads were achy and I literally felt like I was shaking off rust, but after the first lap I started to feel much better and even had to slow down. First rest interval - feet didn't hurt. One minute goes by crazy fast. Took off again, and feet didn't hurt. I smiled big. By the fourth one I was grinning because my feet still felt good and I knew I was hitting the paces and I knew I was "back". One minute rest intervals are evil, but I nailed the workout and could have done more or faster 800's.
On the last one, the song "Overcomer" came onto my Ipod, which is one that my Mom sent to me to encourage me last month. The timing was PERFECT! I zipped around the track for my last 800 wanting to cheer and cry all at the same time. I have never been so happy to run a set of mediocre 800's in my whole life!!
I did a 2-mile cool down and the feet felt the same. One felt perfect, one with a tiny nag. That is how they have been for the past few weeks (although continuing to improve slowly). I emailed Coach a super excited email and he said, "Outstanding! Time to get back to work!" Yay!!!!!!
The feet are not 100%, but are better and better each day (even after today's workout). When I first get up from sitting down for a while or first thing in the morning I am really tight and hobble for a few steps, but then they feel fine and I am not in any pain or discomfort when walking or running. They are no longer sore to push on, no longer tight and stiff or puffy. They feel pretty dang good.
I will continue to be careful until both feet are feeling completely normal, but I am feeling confident again in my ability to handle the miles and speed. I am excited to get back to work, and to rebuild my endurance and speed. In a few months I plan on both being better than ever! :)