I have location confusion. I call it that because I don’t know what else to call it. It’s when I travel to a former place of residence and have fleeting thoughts of people I might see or places I might go that are actually in another former place of residence. Does that make sense? An example: As we headed to Charlotte this past weekend, I thought about how good it would be to see my family. My family lives in upstate New York. These are very quick thoughts. I’m talking about fragments of a second; just enough to register.
I have the same kind of moments with running. As I dealt with my most recent injury, I would have fleeting thoughts about my next workout or race, only to very quickly come crashing back down to earth. I’ve moved to three cities in the past nine years. I have had two major injuries in the past three years. It seems that when your reality becomes drastically different, remnants of the old reality remain in your subconscious. Why am I writing about this? No real reason other than I’ve been wanting to put down the odd feeling in words.
However, it is topical. My running reality has been slowly changing over the past several weeks. I am transitioning from injured to cautiously healed. I also like to describe it as a transition between being oblivious to my lack of fitness to being acutely aware of my lack of fitness. What started at 3 days and 10 miles of running a week has slowly and methodically built to 6 days and 50 miles a week of running. Now, it’s time to add in workouts.
Last Thursday, I decided to test the wheels with the most basic workout in my repertoire. I ran easy over to the Urban Athletics Headquarters on the Upper East Side and met up with my teammates for the first time since May. I then tacked on a couple of more easy miles with them before they split off to do a hill workout. Then, I launched into what I call “minuters”. It is one minute hard (3k-5k pace) followed by one minute easy (normal training pace) times 10. During the first five intervals, I felt like I was on cloud 9. I dropped the hammer and felt like I was gliding with ease. Wherever my stride had been hiding, I had found it. I even ran by one jogger who exclaimed, “whoa!” The second half of the workout was not quite as fun. Minute number 6 was hard. Number 7 was laborious. Number 8 caused a sharp pain in my side. Numbers 9 and 10 were simply a sad display.
But no one said rehabbing would be easy and I didn’t expect to come back in prime 5K shape. This is the hard part. But it is also the fun part. As I mentioned, Lauren and I spent the second half of last week in Charlotte where I was more than happy to be able to at least run. It allowed me the chance to join in on some easy runs with some of my favorite training partners. The best way to catch up with someone you haven’t seen in a while is to keep up with them on a run.
I’ve signed up for a 5K in the fall and I’d like to run a respectable time. A race on the calendar is the incentive I need to do the work required to get back in shape. Maintaining fitness is very hard and takes dedication. Regaining it is harder and takes patience and persistence. Just like training for a marathon, building fitness is a science. My plan is to continue the base building phase through mid September with a slow climb to 70 miles a week. Right now, I think the focus needs to be on the mileage and not the intensity, so I will limit quality workouts to one per week and they won’t be ball busters. Of course, of all the runners I coach, I am the lowest priority. My wife’s marathon plan and the 5K plan I’m working on for some of my co-workers take precedent.
On a side note, my visit to Charlotte was eye-opening for many reasons. First and foremost (a cliché, but I didn’t have a better introductory phrase), the growth of the running community is palpable. I am not talking about numbers, but in terms of diversity and increase in talent. I have been gone one year and on the group runs I attended, I met as many new faces as familiar faces. Caitlin, Aaron and the board have done an incredible job finding people in Charlotte who have a passion for running and want to share it with other runners in the community. A woman named Sue Falco is one of those new faces who is using running to fight cancer; her cancer and the cancer that impacts so many people in a non-discriminatory fashion. She not only has a passion for running, but a passion for life. Lauren and I talked to her for an hour. We could have talked to her all day. Her drive and the success of her relatively new race in town are proof that Charlotte’s running scene will continue to thrive and grow for many years.
I also noticed how on board Charlotte is with the nationwide Yogurt and Yoga craze. Yogurt and yoga shops are on every corner and in most cases next door to each other. On East Boulevard there is a new yogurt shop across the street from another new yogurt shop. You can have too much of a good thing. And my God, the snow…oh wait, that’s Syracuse.