…and you’ll never guess what it is!
Just tear your ACL, get knee surgery, and be forced to teach yourself to run all over again. Easy-peasy!
No really, if there was a blessing in disguise for being off running for a couple of years, it was that I had to learn to run again.
Recovery was slow but steady, but running and triathlon training have been a different kettle of fish.
The fact that I am now regularly running 10k – and have signed up for a fall half marathon, is a miracle of modern medicine. And, to be honest, a testament to my following my physiotherapist’s instructions.
I began by “running” only the straightaways on a track, walking the curves, but it was clear from the very first foray that I would have to run differently.
I would have to run more efficiently, on my forefoot, the way Victoria runner Marilyn Arsenault tried to teach me years ago while I was training for my second or third marathon.
I had signed up for one of her clinics, then got impatient and left the group because I felt re-learning my running gait was interfering with my training. So I remained a heel-striker through my journey into triathlon some years later.
Then the knee injury and the surgery and the recovery.
So there I was, on the track, ready to run for the first time in two and a half years. I started out tentatively and immediately felt pain shoot up through the newly-reconstructed knee.
Discouraged wasn’t nearly a strong enough word. My tears said it all, and Ken could only commiserate.
Then I remembered the two or three Mindful Strides sessions I did manage to get through years ago in Victoria.
Then and there, I switched my running gait to land more on my forefoot, with my bodyweight firmly under me.
Quite frankly, it was the only way I could run without pain. I was astounded that by switching up my gait, there was no pain at all.
I was running again!
I was slow as molasses. It was deliberate and exhausting, but exhilarating. It was a total of about 2 kilometres. But I was running, and it was pain-free.
I’ve been slowly building up fitness ever since. I’ve been incorporating strength training into my routine as well.
I haven’t been working on speed in the last year I’ve been running – just putting in some mileage, getting used to the idea of running and doing triathlons again. I’ve done a few hills now and then (they’re hard to avoid, living in Vancouver).
I’m still slower than I was pre-injury, but I’m hoping that’s because I haven’t deliberately trained for much of anything except completing a couple of 10k events last year.
Training starts in earnest mid-July for the Victoria Half. Then next year? Bring on the 2018 triathlon season!
Photo credit: Connie Walters Dunwoody