It surprises me every morning. My alarm begins ringing, and I fumble for the phone thinking someone is calling before I remember my scheduled workout. I grab the running clothes off my dresser, readied the night before to make the routine easier, faster and quieter. I tiptoe outside, and the air bites at my skin, even through my clothes. Going to the gym instead of running outside means I don’t layer against the environment.
My training plan is ingrained in my head, the mileage to run each week small enough to make me feel small if I think about it too long. Even before I ran my first half marathon in 2005 I’d been running for a while, and even after my c-section recoveries I ran for longer distances — though not much longer — than the numbers I have planned this morning.
But recovery from a niggling Achilles injury took me longer than expected this fall and through the beginning of winter, and I am hesitant to re-injure it. With my first “race” scheduled for May, I know I have time to make progress slowly and carefully and to stay injury-free while doing it. An 8-week training plan for a 5K seemed like the perfect way to see progress without pushing myself forward too quickly.
The treadmills lined against the window are whirling in action, a row of legs pumping in sure, steady strides. My own warm-up walk seems plodding and ungraceful. I stretch carefully, mentally checking my right calf and Achilles for any sort of tightness. Setting the incline and speed, my legs begin to move.
The digital display moves forward more quickly than I anticipated, and I battle my brain as I near the end of my planned distance. I don’t feel finished. I long to crank my music louder and increase the speed and run-run-run until my breath is pushing out of my chest in gasps and my legs are made of jelly. I want to return to that place in my head I find around mile three where I lose myself in my thoughts and my feet move in a smooth path.
And I will.
But today my eyes catch the red numbers flipping to the limit written in my planner for today’s distance, and I reluctantly slow the machine to a walk, playing with the incline for a bit to make the rest of my time on the treadmill interesting. Stretching after I’m finished, I happily feel my calf and ankle stretch beautifully without any pain.
Progress… even if I can’t simply lace up my shoes and run until it hurts anymore, I know my body is making progress — one step at a time.
Do you ever have a difficult time sticking with a plan and not charging ahead, even though you know you need to take your time?