So this morning was my first real run back after injury. Sure, there was the run on Saturday morning with Jamie but this was done at just better than walking pace and was all about him. This morning, it was all about me.
For the last couple of months anything less than about 10km has seemed like a waste of time. It takes ten minutes to get dressed and ready, five minutes to cool down after a run, and another ten minutes to shower and get presentable again. If I am only going to be running for half an hour, I’d be spending almost the same amount of time getting ready before and after as out on the road or trail. 10km, on the other hand, means at least 50 minutes out on the road, and usually I could push that to an hour and feel good about it.
This morning, though, it was about testing out my leg and taking things easy. Very easy. So easy as to return home and hopefully think ‘I could have run twice as long as that’. There will be time for running longer distances soon, but for now I wanted to focus on easing into things again and not overdoing it.
The plan was to run a basic 5km or 6km out and back to the Place Carnot near the Perrache train station. It’s a route I used to sprint to when this short distance was all I was running in the morning. It’s a straight shot down the hill from home, along the Rue de Republique, across the Place Bellecour and then down the Rue Victor Hugo. It measures out at about 2.5km each way and shouldn’t take more than 30 minutes, total. This would be enough for the moment, I think: a reasonable test on a Monday morning that is far enough to be interesting but not so far as to provoke another injury.
I was out the door and running before 5:15am and I took the first couple of hundred meters down the hill nice and easy. After all, I was meant to be testing my leg and returning from injury and not twisting an ankle descending down to the Opera House. Managing on the descent without a problem, I settled into my pace on the Rue de Republique and waited for the first split to appear on my Garmin. Secretly I was hoping for something around 5m00s as I’m normally a little slower on the downhill and I was taking things easy on the flat, so when 4m48s flashed up, I was content.
Heading down to Perrache I focused on keeping my stride nice and even, checked in with my leg every hundred meters (“Any problems? No? OK, keep it up…”) and avoided the street cleaners and early morning buses. At the turn around I felt fine and I was putting together even splits, a sign I was not suffering too much from the nearly two weeks without running.
Indeed, the second and third kilometers had ticked over in 4m33s and 4m32s, respectively. This wasn’t just feeling good; this was a respectable time for me on the flat. When kilometer four came up in 4m13s and I wasn’t even pushing particularly hard, I knew that I wasn’t having any issues with my leg. I brought up the 5K with a 4m10s kilometer and a 22m19s – and considering my personal best for the distance is 22m01s, this was damn fast for me.
I slowed it down after that, taking the last 500m back up the Pentes reasonably easy and dropping to 5m00s pace. Of course, as I was going uphill at this point I was breathing heavily, but the leg was feeling fine and I didn’t mind pushing a little bit on the final staircase just to get my heart rate up. I clicked stop on the Garmin and felt good about my sub-25 minute 5.5km run.
The leg – at least for the moment – feels fine. I did wear the compression sleeves this morning so perhaps that helped, and I didn’t push hard for the first half of the run in an effort to avoid hurting myself immediately. I also ran without headphones this morning in order to better concentrate on any pain signals that I might receive; luckily, I didn’t get any besides the aches that come with running reasonably fast after a few weeks off.
I also realized that another downside of running without headphones is that your mind fills the space with whatever it can to pass the time. Unfortunately for me this morning that was John Mayer’s Your Body is a Wonderland – how or why this song got in my head, I just don’t know…
Even though I felt good today I am still going to stick to the comeback plan and take tomorrow off. The Wednesday Night Run with the Lyon Running Club should be a little longer than this morning, if a lot slower, and even if I am not hurting, the extra couple of days of rest this week can only help keep me pain free.