I’m not really one for year-in-review appraisals or New Year’s resolutions. In general, I associate New Year’s with two weeks of noobs crowding the gym. (Newbies please note: if you are walking on a treadmill, the automatic cool-down period at the end is not for you. Do not walk in slow motion for five minutes while others are waiting, only to hop off and resume a brisk pace to the locker room. Seriously.)
In light of my recent injury, though, I can’t help being a bit more reflective than usual this year. I had easily the best training year of my life. I learned how to set challenging goals and not to let myself off the hook for them. I learned to train hard and successfully. Injury aside, I think also I learned how hard I can push myself, and it’s harder than I thought. As a friend said recently, “You have to cross the line now and then to figure out where it actually is.” The stress fracture, too, has been instructive. I’ve been reminded that I’m not Superwoman and no matter how good of shape I’m in, I still need to be gentle with myself. I enjoyed running this year more fully than I ever have, and I’m now even more acutely aware how precious every step is. I have realized these past few weeks how much running has become part of my identity, and how it’s become a measuring stick for how may day, or week, or life is going.
My foot continues to improve, albeit slower than I would like. Interestingly, it seems to plateau for several days at a time, and then overnight will suddenly feel markedly better. The injury first became apparent just after Thanksgiving, but I’m pretty sure that walking four miles on it at the Jingle Bell Jog and the pain that ensued after probably set things back a bit. That would put me at somewhere around week three of the healing process, which means the bone callus should be forming now. There is a distinct bump at the site of the injury now and the area is definitely less tender now, so that’s all to go the good.
Swimming really has been the silver lining to all of this, as I may have actually set myself up to drown in the Hudson next summer had I not been absolutely forced to focus on the swim. I’m far worse at it than I expected, and I never would have dedicated this much time to it if running or biking were at all possible. I don’t enjoy swimming yet, but I’ve been working hard, and after watching several YouTube videos to study up on technique I’ve definitely been able to make some headway. Last week I realized that I was “swimming flat,” meaning that my hips were staying parallel to the bottom of the pool while my upper body rotated. I finally got the reach-and-roll rhythm going and suddenly instead of flapping around, I felt like I was actually gliding through the water. Make no mistake, I’m still terrible, but I can now reliably overtake some of the oldest women in the slow lane. At any rate, my swim classes start in two weeks, and I am perhaps unreasonably optimistic that they will help tremendously.
Part of my current frustration with swimming is that I am not good enough to get a really hard, satisfying workout in. I’ve also been strength training, though, and I am finding an appreciation for pushing through a really hard set that I’ve never had before. I tend to rush through lifting, so I do best with a trainer or video to guide me on form and pace. It’s been difficult to find really challenging workout videos that don’t require a lot of high impact cardio intervals, but so far I’m most impressed with Jillian Michaels’ No More Trouble Zones. I can do most of the workout without modifications and the sets move fast enough to provide a good cardio component as well. I really do feel like I will come through this injury stronger physically, and maybe mentally as well.