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And Now We Run? Now? How About Now?

So I’m about 11 weeks from the stress fracture diagnosis, and I am almost ready to start running again (on the official clock). Mentally, I am very ready. Like to the point where I was walking FAST through the airport this weekend, and almost broke into a jog… because I am SO ready to just gooooo.

At whatever speed that might be.

I will admit that I have enjoyed the break from running in a way, because it has afforded me an unscheduled opportunity to sort of re-build from the ground-up, and start over with my running.

For example, for years I have had issues with “dead butt” – e.g., where your glutes don’t fire, and you use mostly quads and hip flexors to try and chug along in the running motion. Since our glutes are one of the biggest powerhouses, running without any use of them is a really hard thing AND a bad idea AND setting yourself up for injury.  Over the winter, I really worked on strength training (lunges, squats, step-ups, leg presses [concentrating on pushing through the heels, not the quads] and many other strength exercises to try and get the glutes engaged.

And engage they did. Finally, I had butt movement!

Which is really hilarious considering all the years I spent Olympic weightlifting, squatting and throwing around weights with my butt – that just a handful of years sitting at a desk and being completely inactive will make a butt go to sleep.

Anyway – my butt was awake, and I was seeing really great gains in the run—speed-wise and form-wise, too. I was PR’ing almost every training run, and putting down some nice times in local running races too–where I was finishing top-third or better in my age-group. ME? Top third? Shut up.

So I was excited. To say the least.

But a common occurrence in endurance athletes, at some point, is injuries. Can crop up for a million reasons, but in this sport – it’s not IF you get injured, it’s WHEN.  So I enjoyed the gains for about two months, and then I was sidelined.  Yup, my newfound speed and drive?  That awesome thing that motivates you?  Well, it drove me right through five specific training runs where I had pain, and I kept going.

“I’m sure it’s fine.”

Well, it wasn’t.  So I had a mandatory unwanted break on the eve of the season where I wanted to tackle a handful of major races.

When I said I was stepping back from the sport, I actually didn’t mean forever.  I didn’t mean that I was forever done with triathlon. I just meant that I have NO PLANS–whatsoever for the rest of this season.  It’s just a handful of months.

Hello? Race season is OVER in 5 months.  SO I’m choosing to not race for what, 5 months?  Big effing deal.

And I’m not quitting because I am scared, or lonely, or bored, or whatever. I am not quitting. I am  rearranging my training and my race schedule to something that isn’t going to cause stress fracture, part II.

Oooooooh, Swim Bike Mom has changed her mind. Tonight, on 20/20!


So I have time to decide how to best train my body. And I am trying to go about this whole tri thing correctly.

As I have said a million times, I went about triathlon a bit backwards.  (Like MANY of new triathletes do, by the way. Many.)

I started doing triathlon without a great foundation, so I spent many years just sort ofgetting by and surviving the run in whatever way I could. Then I bumped up from a sprint to an Oly to half Ironman in one season.  And then a half Ironman the next year.    From October 2010 to June 2013 – I went from off the couch to an Ironman finish.  Then I kept going, through three more long distance races.

And sure that’s something to be proud of – and I AM proud of it.

My swim was getting really solid.  My bike was improving—I mean, I clocked 19.4 MPH during my first 70.3 season opener last year.

But then, there was the run. [Le Sigh.] Still pokey and flail-y and crazy.

So when I got some exciting speed under me, I was so happy and rearing to go for 2016.  But then I couldn’t. Because I messed up. I did the opposite of what I tell my girls.

Listen to your body. I didn’t. And my body talked back. And now I have some additional and real concerns that require addressing.

First off, the stress fracture.  Overuse, plain and simple. I got excited with my new form and speed and butt. And I ran like effing Forrest Gump – right into an MRI.  Rookie mistake.

Next up, when starting back to running – it’s like you are essentially a brand new baby runner.  All the running endurance and muscles, while you hope have survived and been stimulated well with elliptical and pool running or whatever, just really aren’t quite the pre-running glory.

I now have an opportunity (not an excuse) to slow down, and figure out how to dissect the run so that I can be a better, more efficient runner.

Nutritionally, I am getting to be a bit of a nerd about it. Really experimenting with different foods, and testing what is working, what I find that is causing inflammation—goes away from my rotation. It’s been the biggest key.

I have time.  And you know what time is?

Time is the greatest asset AND the greatest detriment.

First off, we think we have all the time in the world to do whatever. Time to travel. Time to find a better job.  Time to love on the kids. But life is short and it has no guarantees.  So because life is short, we start to rush things. We start to cram things into boxes and timeframes and time tables, and then at the end of the day when something gets in the way, we find that we are “failures” for not completing it.

When in all reality, if we had just done the damn thing (whatever it is) correctly from the outset, then it wouldn’t have been a big deal.

That’s what “this” episode of “quitting triathlon” is.  It’s actually not quitting at all.

It’s called rewinding the clock.  Starting over. Taking stock. Building from the ground-up. Second chances. Not quitting. Doing every single thing within our power to take control over our outcomes. Getting braver and stronger and not listening to the noise, or the next blah blah blah that’s in our faces.

It’s called doing exactly what we need to do.

And for YOU…  my fellow doing-what-we-need-to-do people out there – for you guys who are also making major changes, asking the hard questions, and doing what you need to do, despite the idiots out there …high five.  Seriously.  High-freaking-five.  I am not being sarcastic at ALL.  You rock.

As for me, don’t worry.  I’m not going anywhere.  (Good for some, bad for others.)





  • Jo

    May 17, 2016 at 7:13 pm

    Oh, I hear you! Losing the run legs? Yep – I hear you. Rethinking what I want out of sport? I hear you. But I’m at the build back phase, and I am loving myself sick right now, because I’ve got a whole new focus and a new set of dreams. It’s AMAZEBALLS!

  • Beth

    May 18, 2016 at 6:37 pm

    I would love to know more about how you’re discovering what foods are causing inflammation. I’m sure it’s really key for me too. How are you figuring this out? More info pleeeeease!!

  • Michelle Gour

    May 18, 2016 at 9:03 pm

    Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. I needed this. I’ve pretty much been in a deep depression since reinjuring my hip. IMLP is no longer in the cards this year. I have felt lost. But I know I need to start fresh. Fix the issue and build myself up the right way …. Not the I want to do it now no matter the cost way cuz I am impatient. Thanks sweetie. You always seem to write what I need to hear at exactly the right time.

  • SoAnyway

    May 19, 2016 at 1:48 pm

    I know what you mean about the time-box. You should see the “catch-up” I had to do to get to this month’s “peak phase.” I’ll know more after tonight’s run, but *maybe* I managed it so I can get through the next two weeks without blowing an aneurysm. Which is different from saying that next month’s Oly isn’t going to be an embarrassment.

    I (still) still say that running an open marathon would be great for your triathlon training. Especially if you can work your way up to it slowly (like, half marathon by the end of this year, full marathon next Spring. Assuming you’re ready to work to 13.1 this year). It would be great for your running strength. And also, it’s ALOT of fun lining up thinking “it’s only a marathon…”

  • Helga Junold

    May 23, 2016 at 10:04 am

    Thanks for the reminder on the strength training…I had a visit to a chiropractor who told me that my glutes were “weak”. After years of cycling, I was really miffed to hear that. Anyway, I’m guessing its why I can never get past a certain run pace…so I shall work on the butt. Good reminder! and btw..enjoy the “time off” (you know what I mean) to just enjoy thinking..


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