Off To the Races!

Foot races that is. File this post under random and meandering thoughts from yours truly. Forgive me if you came looking for a home/DIY/Christmasy-related post. I'll be back to regular programming tomorrow.

For today, we'll be talking about running.

I have a love/hate relationship with running. I've never loved running for the sake of running, but it is, in my opinion, one of the best bangs for your buck in terms of a whole body, calorie-burning workout. So I do it. Or rather, I did it, until this summer when I got a stress fracture in my foot. (Cue the boos.)

Before we get to the fun event that caused my stress fracture, I figured I'd give you a little history of my running career (and I am by no means a pro at this - but I do have a story to tell!). Competitive sports were always my thing growing up. If you gave me a lacrosse stick, that was all the motivation I needed to get in shape and run up and down that field all day. Because of my love of field sports, I would have classified myself as more a sprinter than an endurance runner throughout high school. Then, when I went to college, I didn't have a sport to play anymore, so I started running and power-walking. By my senior year, I figured out that I do best when I have a goal, or a benchmark to hit. So, a friend and I decided to start training for half-marathon. There's a goal for you. Halfway through my training though, my friend got hurt and I lost my motivation (spoiler alert: she has since run a WHOLE marathon - yeehaw!). After graduating that spring, I decided that I still wanted to run a half, and started training. I gained a new training partner in the process - my dad. He's been a runner for as long as I can remember, but had never run a half. I'm happy to say that we did it, together in the fall of 2008.

Here's my proof of us approaching the finish line:

13.1 miles was quite a feat. You know how some people finish a half and say, "Man that was fun. How 'bout a whole marathon next time?" I'm not one of those people. Just being honest. It was hard, and if I didn't have my dad with me, I think I might have given up at some point.

So instead of moving up in racing distance, I decided to move down thinking maybe a 10k was more my speed (pun totally intended). Turns out that's a pretty ideal distance for me, and my hubby and I ran an awesome 10k every year we lived in Richmond. (It was the Monument Avenue 10k in case you were curious.)

Fast forward to this past summer when we were in Italy on a family vacation. We took several awesome hikes while we were there. We were staying in a little town on the northwest coast that had awesome trails up and over (very) large hills, and one day, we decided to hike to an ancient abbey called San Fruttuoso. The only way to access this place is by water or by hiking. No roads. We planned to hike there and take a boat back since it was a long hike - around 2.5 hours - straight up the side of a mountain. 

So off we went.

{these little signs were our guide along the trail}

We had a great time on the way admiring the beautiful coastal scenery. We stopped to take a photo at the top of the trail...

And a few hour later, made it to the abbey!

What we didn't know ahead of time was that the boats only ran a couple of times a day since it was "the off-season." By the time we got there, there was no boat to take us home. Talk about a sinking feeling. We were counting on that boat because we were tired! We had no choice but to hike back. Not ideal. And at some pint, along that very, very long hike back, I realized that my foot was hurting. I didn't think much of it until I realized that it wasn't getting better. We got back home from our trip and I had a negative X-ray. No fracture (phew), but the doctor said that it could be a stress fracture or a strained ligament and it likely wouldn't show up on X-ray. Rest and ice were the only medicines. Bye bye running.

Eventually, after a lot of rest, it did get better. Better enough to run a 5k in September - the super awesome Color Run!

Then a month or so later, when I was feeling really good about my running again, I somehow aggravated it during a flag football game. I guess all that stopping and starting caused it? Anyway, it. hurt. Frustration!

So, long story short, I think I'm still on the mend. Who knew it would take so long to heal a silly, seemingly small injury? Not me. I really want to start getting back into running shape though, so I'm starting a new program that maybe some of you have tried: Couch to 5k. I think it will be gentle enough to ease me back into shape. Anyone had any experience with it? It seems to be a pretty popular thing. You alternate running and walking (running for increasing amounts of time each week) for 30 minutes. Eventually you build up to be able to run a 5k without walking. I have an app on my phone that will give me voice commands on what I'm supposed to do. I like that kind of motivation.

So now I want to hear from you! Any Couch to 5k-ers out there? Anyone with persistent (and annoying) running-related injuries out there? How 'bout any cures for stress fractures? Hope I didn't bore anyone to death with my long-winded running saga!

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