A few months ago, I shared that I had to take time off of running due to an injury. I ended up having a stress fracture at the top of my tibia, as well as swelling in the fat pad of my knee, that was causing my kneecap to move around and pinch when I ran (ouch!). After 11 weeks off of running, physical therapy, and a steroid injection, I was cleared to rebuild running.
During my injury, I tried to stay as active as possible with walking and strength training. Per the orders of my physical therapist, I started back running with 1 minute run / 1 minute walk intervals. Although it was fun to be back running, it was hard! Thankfully, my body adapted after a few runs, and the next week I progressed to 2 minute intervals, then to 3 minutes, then to continuous running.
The continuous running was the hardest progression, especially because it was challenging to pace myself. I was used to running much faster when I was at peak fitness before my injury. I would feel great the first few minutes and take off, only to have a reality check a few minutes later!
The key to building back from injury is to not increase your weekly mileage more than 10%. When you are starting from 0 running, this means a really slow build! Since I had been walking 10-15 miles a week, I started at 10 miles of my run / walk intervals and then very slowly built from there. I am 6 weeks into my rebuild, and I’m doing about 17 miles a week, with 5 miles being my longest continuous run.
It’s both a mental and physical challenge knowing that I lost fitness and I’m nowhere near what I could do even a few months ago when I PR’d my marathon! I just try to remind myself that all I can do is focus on where I am today, and to trust the rebuild process. My motto has been “brick by brick”– meaning each run will build upon the previous to get to where I want to be!
The process has also made me respect the human body even more. When you’re constantly training, you don’t think about how far your body has come or been conditioned to do amazing things. Losing some of my fitness made me realize just how much my body transforms when I train!
I had a goal to run Grandma’s Marathon in June, but I’m starting to doubt the race will happen, which is also a bit of a relief. Although I have time to train, I would like to be at a better base to build upon and not rush the process, so I’m putting those plans on the back burner and just focusing on my rebuild for now! The biggest key is to stay healthy first!