Monday, June 11, 2012

Giving Myself Permission to Quit the #RWRunStreak

Alternatively, this post could be titled “Your Body is Talking… Are You Listening?” Part/Section/Version/Round 2. It seems like perhaps that’s becoming a theme around here – be on the lookout for a weekly column titled “YBITARL?”! (Joking. Hopefully that is not necessary.)

For some background information, Runner’s World is currently hosting a challenge on their website called the Runner’s World RunStreak, or #RWRunStreak on Twitter. The challenge is to run 1+ miles per day, every day from Memorial Day to the Fourth of July. I, along with some of my runner girlfriends, decided to participate, and I hit the roads hard. I take a challenge very seriously – so much so, in fact, that I got up at 4:45 AM one day to get my run in, because I knew I wouldn’t have any other time during the day. To put it lightly, I am not a morning person. That’s how intent I’ve been on successfully participating in #RWRunStreak. What can I say? I’m competitive.

But last week, a problem arose. The words that no runner wants to hear – the dreaded SS: shin splints. The nasty pain in my shins came back with a vengeance, and let me tell you, it ain’t been pretty. Every step I've taken lately hurts. My shins ache. My muscles are tight. It's not good. And I recognize it.

More background: When I was in high school, I was on the dance team at school, and took five studio dance classes at a time.
Throwback! Crappy picture-of-a-picture, sorry. I'm on the left!
It was intense, and I developed some pretty nasty shin splints. There reached a point during my junior year of high school when I could not walk from class to class without debilitating pain in my shins, and a few doctor visits and a bone scan later, the doctor told me what was pretty obvious: I had heavily overdone it, and was causing myself serious damage. That, combined with other factors, led to my decision to quit the dance team for my senior year of high school. It was a tough decision. However, my shins healed, and I’ve never really felt that pain again.

Until last week. I mentioned that on Wednesday, I had the worst run of my life. Part of what made it so was my having to stop approximately every half mile. It wasn’t because I was out of breath or anything like that, it was because my shins were screaming at me. The pain was awful, and, honestly, I probably shouldn’t have finished the run. I should have gone home. But I didn’t - bad Lindsay. I felt a bit better the next day, and went out for my run with my running partner (Hi Suzann!) after my class at the gym. My shins felt OK, much better than the day before, but still not great. That night, in the shower, I found myself having a serious conversation with myself. I knew that I needed a break. I knew that I needed a few days off running, to let my shins recover a little, and I know that I need my rest days.

So I convinced myself that it was OK to quit the #RWRunStreak. It was not easy. I have mentioned before that I have a very, very hard time giving myself a break. I don’t like to quit, and I don’t like to leave things that I’ve started unfinished. However, I do not need to win this.

Here’s why: I started running, and exercising in general, really, because it makes me feel good. I like it. I enjoy myself when I’m doing it, and I enjoy being healthy and fit. There is absolutely no reason that I should be in pain while I do it. If the whole point is for the benefits, and if I am sitting at home icing my shins and wincing every time I go up and down the steps, I’m not getting benefits – I’m injuring myself. For no reason whatsoever. I am no longer on a team. I do not have to win. I can take a break and let my body recover when it needs to. It should not hurt; it should be fun! And so, I didn’t run. On Friday, I went to yoga, which I’d been missing badly. On Saturday morning, I took BodyPump, and it felt good. I skipped the runs both days, I stretched my shins and calves, and I took it a little bit easy. 

On Sunday morning, I headed out for an early-morning run with Suzann, and we ended up doing 9 miles. Nine! We had a great time – it was hot and humid even though we were out by 7:30 AM, and it wasn’t easy, but it was enjoyable time spent with a friend. For me, that’s what running is supposed to be. It isn’t supposed to be pushing myself to do one single painful mile because a hashtag is compelling me to and because I don’t know when to stop. I would so much rather be able to go out for a long, happy run with a friend, than do one painful mile every day for a month.  I want to be able to run races. I want to run the races I'm registered for this year, and I want to complete my first half next year. If I'm going to do those things, I have to take the necessary breaks and rest & recovery days that I need. I realized in the shower on Thursday night that, if I continue with the Run Streak, I probably won’t be able to do my best in the 5K I’m registered for at the end of June, because I will be too worn out and in too much pain. And to me, that just isn’t worth it.
Happy running - aka what it should always be like!
And with that, I gave myself permission to quit. It was a good run (pun intended!) but it’s not for me – I’ll be running on my own schedule, and my own terms, with legs and shins that don’t hurt. I’m unhappy about it, but c’est la vie. Again, my body is talking to me, and I know I need to listen. (The ol’ body is getting pretty bossy, actually – or maybe I’m just becoming a better listener.) I do not have to win this competition. But I’m pretty sure that, in the long run, this is the winning decision. See ya, #RWRunStreak. It was good while it lasted.


Elizabeth said...

It's ok, I quit too this weekend! Running everyday was holding me back on pushing my mileage. No recovery days made it harder for me to rest up for a really long run--like 9 miles?!

Lindsay said...

So glad I'm not the only quitter!! I was excited about it at first, but it was becoming a chore, and I wasn't feeling good - and I realized that that is NOT THE POINT. Just had to come to terms with it. And yes ma'am... 9 miles! Trust me, the Starbucks afterwards was much needed.