On Sunday Ambrose and I went for a run, on what seems to have been the last nice day that Boise will see for a while, unless you happen to like cold rain and freezing temperatures. I have actually run in the snow, and I’ve enjoyed it, but Ambrose is less than inclined to take to the streets when he could run in a nice warm gym. Relatively warm. They actually keep it pretty cool to prevent everyone from overheating.

So we did 5 miles on the greenbelt. I started off slowly, warming up, letting Ambrose build a little lead while I made myself go nice and slow to warm up. It might not be necessary, but it’s how I’ve learned to compensate for the issues with my gait. I have to be in control of what I’m doing, and that means starting off slow.

I still passed him in less than a mile.

And I was still paranoid about the last time I ran oh-so-confidently on the greenbelt. I ran all the way up to table rock, and had to walk ignominiously back down because I’d tweaked my ITB issue and couldn’t fix it, no matter how hard I tried. That day Ambrose beat me home, and I almost couldn’t stand his understandable gloating.

Running on the pavement is different than running on the track at the gym. The gym track is softer, and has an advantage – if you need to stop, the exits are never more than a fraction of an eleventh of a mile away. When you run outside, you have to finish your route, or turn around, to get to a place where you can stop. I think it’s mostly my imagination that makes me feel more prone to injury on the pavement, but I could feel the pain starting to tick up in my right knee after about two miles.

I adjusted my stride, and almost had a meltdown when it didn’t change anything right away. Fortunately, a couple of minutes later the adjustment helped and the pain faded.

I kept running.

The path that we took began on pavement, transitioned to sidewalk and then to a rock path before ending on pavement again. Just as I was getting used to running on the paved area, I had to switch not only to sidewalk, but to uphill sidewalk, crossing the bridge over the river. Then came the rocks. Ambrose had recently run this path, and told me about how much the rocks hurt his feet. He wants to toughen them up. I was ready for the rocks in my head, but my feet are not at all tough right now. It was as if I could feel every rock, and I had more than two miles to go.

The rocks, and the people walking along the rocky path knocked me out of the correct stride a few times, leading to more pain. When I was running without the knee pain, I would try to run faster so that I could be done sooner. This led to different pain. Those pesky lungs sure love to have oxygen, and when they want more than I’m giving them, it hurts. I used to think of this as bad pain, meaning I should stop. I’ve since come to recognize it as constructive pain. If I don’t push my lung capacity now and then, it will never grow.

By the time I got off of the rock path, I had had to recheck my posture and stride several times, but each time I was able to fix what was going wrong and continue running. I knew I had only about a half mile to go, but I wanted so badly just to stop and sit down on the path and cry. I was hurting, pushing myself in speed and distance, aching and nauseous. I thought if I stopped, I would puke. I didn’t want to puke. I kept going, pushing as hard as I dared to get done.

I made it to where we had started and stumbled to a halt. I paused my music player, thinking I could use it as a timer, since I hadn’t brought a watch. I remembered which song I had started on, so I should be able to calculate my time by going back through the tracks played and adding up the times. Then I sat on the curb and fought not to puke. I drank my electrolyte laced water from the hydration bladder I was carrying on my back. I stretched a little bit  and tried to muster the energy to stand up and get home, a ten minute walk at an easy pace.

I couldn’t manage an easy pace. My pace was more like a shambling zombie speed – not like those fast new zombies. I did some lunges on the way home, which probably slowed me down further, but I’ve found that walking lunges are part of my running routine. If I skip them, my right hip feels tight later, and I’m prone to feel the ITB pain creep back going down stairs.

I made it home and somehow managed to get started on my music time project. I hadn’t been home more than ten minutes when Ambrose arrived. He was excited that I hadn’t beaten him home by much, until I told him I spent a lot of time sitting on the sidewalk after I finished my run.

I ended up with a time of 62:08 for a 5.02 mile run. On average, 12:22 minute miles, which is not bad for me right now. I know I can go faster, but I need to work up to it. This whole rehabilitation of my gait has taken time to show the results that it has, and I know speed will come as I get the re-aligned gait to be the default mode for my running.

Overall, my ITB passed this test. It tried to tweak out, but was receptive to my corrections in gait. I’m trying to run five days a week now, to prepare for a 5K in March. Ideally, I’d like to run the 5K in under 21 minutes. Realistically, my goal is to finish in less than 30 minutes. I’ve never run a mile faster than 8 minutes, let alone the under 7’s I would need for that ideal goal. Then again, for a long time, my running was focused on just doing it. Last year I wasn’t running at all because of this ITB issue. Now that I’m on the right track with my gait, maybe that goal isn’t as out of reach as I think it is.

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