Fall is in the air, and I just love this time of year. For many, tomorrow is the start of a new school year, which to me always signified a new start. I miss school dearly, and if I had someone to finance my education I would be in school forever! I will always be a lifelong student, just not always in a real classroom rather in the classroom of life. I love to learn, to read, to study. I love sharing what I learn just as much. Just as we exercise our bodies we need to exercise our minds.
I decided that I am starting over with my running. I was on a very consistent schedule with my running up until my first half-marathon in July. Since then I have been struggling with an IT band issue and have done very little running, or any other physical activity. I can definitely tell that my aerobic capacity has decreased, and that disgusts me. In addition to the IT band issue, I found out my hematocrit (volume of red blood cells) is low. This explains why I am so tired and worn out by 1:00 or 2:00 everyday. Another thing that I realized was once I started running outside, hence not getting to the gym, I quit biking, stair climbing, and strength training. I need to get back to place where I am doing all of those things.
Another reason I want to start over is that I never built a solid base when I first started running in January. The only problem with starting over is that I am signed up for a 10 mile race on October 2nd. The farthest I have been able to run in the last two months is four miles due to pain in my knee caused by my IT band. So I am doing a modified “start-over.” I am sticking with the mileage that will get me prepared for the 10 mile, but am following a run-walk program from the beginning (if that makes any sense).
When I first started running I was following a program that called for running five days a week. Following this schedule I eventually stopped cross-training as well as strength training. I have since realized what a mistake that was, along with never stretching! This time around I am going to do my best to stick to three days of running, and two days of cross/strength training. I am also going to try and sneak in some pilates and yoga. I have never tried either of them, but believe they will be beneficial.
I have learned a lot dealing with this IT band issue. The number one thing I learned was how indispensable stretching and using the foam roller are. I hated taking time to stretch as I was already at the gym for too long. I learned that my glutes were weak, and weren’t firing when they were supposed to be. For the first three months or so, I did all of my running on the treadmill. Once I ran outside for the first time, I realized how much work the treadmill was actually doing for me. I think my biggest piece of advice for new runners is stay off of the treadmill if you can, and stretch. I’ve learned that my hips are really tight. I can imagine this has an impact on my running because my range of motion is limited. I have also learned that I carry an enormous amount of stress and tension in my neck and shoulders.
So although it has sucked not being able to run without pain, it has been a learning experience. There were numerous issues I had going on that I wasn’t aware of, and this IT band issue was my body’s way of making me slow down, take note, and learn. I can’t imagine how great running is going to feel once I have a good running base, and all of these kinks worked out.