I’ve always thought of my running as a pretty private undertaking. Sure, I share some photos on occasion on social media, but compared to other runners I appear quite reserved. When I started running back in 2016 I decided to not really write about my “fitness journey” because I feared not following through. What if I stopped after my first 5K race? Or if I got hurt and couldn’t run for a month or six? What then?
It’s been nearly two years now, and I think I’m a runner now. I guess maybe it’s safe to write about it.
I ran all winter here in PA. Every other day, and most of my morning runs were in the high teens. I ran a few times in single digit temps, too.
Then I went from running every other day to running a solid four days a week. I found myself running longer distances, upwards of seven miles at a time. I ran my fastest mile at a 5K race in Tampa, FL in February; hitting an 8:46 mile pace and finishing with a 27:12 time. I was eating much better, too (with the still occasional cookie binge), and starting to do some upper body work outs.
I increased all the miles and time on my feet, because it was getting easier. It’s “easy” to power through. Grind. Do all sorts of mind games, pep talks, and just push through. Singing “The Distance” to yourself over and over again.
This is something I thought I learned years ago when I was biking 125+ miles a week. You can grind your way to the top of hills, and over great distances, but you can’t fake sleep. You must get more rest when doing those miles.
So with running, you can’t fake stretching.
For a few weeks I’d get this weird “jab” in my lower back, on the right side. I felt it when I got up from sitting, or off the bike or rowing machine at the gym. Like, it was literally a second or two before I could really stand up straight without feeling that pain.
And I ignored it.
Then one Saturday I woke up with the pain – a first. But hey, I had a run planned. There’s no time for rest! I finished that four mile run and the next day I had massive lower back pain. I could barely put my shoes on. Walking wasn’t painful, but it was uncomfortable. Something was wrong.
Thankfully I had a doctors visit planned a few days later. He had me lay on my back and raised each leg. He was like, “yeahhhh.” Official diagnosis was mild hip displacement.
I’ve never been very limber, but was always able to pedal for 40 or 50 miles, or lately run 5-7 miles with no pain. But he told me I have to stretch. I mean, I’m “only” still running 16-18 miles a week, but if I want to avoid this sort of thing, I need to start stretching.
And I’ve been stretching. A lot.
A friend recommended Yoga With Adriene on YouTube, and I started with this video and I love it. Stuff is all connected, and my tight hamstrings certainly did a number on my back.
This is another great video by Adriene, too.
Just like when I started with the Couch to 5K app back in 2016, and just kept at it, I have to do the same here. With anything in life, really, that thing you wanna do… well, you have to show up and do it. With running, well, you can’t just run. You have to get more rest, lift some weights, eat good foods, and stretch. It’s part of the deal.
So now I schedule my stretching. When it’s time, I set a timer on my iPhone for 15 minutes and get on the mat at least twice a day. I can imagine I’ll increase that as I start running more miles again.