BDR 5K – Sure, why not?

Courage Above Fear

~unknown

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After Park Ave 5K I was sure I’d kill the next 5k and execute from beginning to finish without mercy. Yeah, I was that driven and had the means to back it up. Except that the unforeseeable developed before I had that chance.

Injuries, setbacks, forced pause, rest, regroup…whatever TF one wants to call it, are part of the risk we take as an athlete. Sooner or later, it will show up. Sooner or later that menace that makes us stronger in the process, although it’s hard to believe while in it, will find a host to sneak into the weak spot of the body. And it will say, hello… I am here, stop!

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So yes, I kinda of nailed that Wednesday’s fartlek –

2 mi up * 5 x 3’ at 7:29 w/ 2’ recovery in between * 4 x 2’ at 7:29 w/ 1’ recovery in between * 6 x 1’ at 7:29 w/ 1’ recovery in between * 2 mi down

Kinda of nailed it because I was up at 4 o’clock in the morning, did my pre run routine, warmed up on the spin bike, defied the cold, darkness and rain – not necessarily that I hit all the paces. It rained the entire time I was out there on the track. It is a cheap public-school track that is more used for the school buses to do laps before kids are boarded in, rather than actually for kids/students and tax payers who want to reach their dreams one day. With that being said, I was also dodging puddles because of course, that track isn’t rock star track. There’s more elevation and uneven areas than Mt. Everest.

This workout totaled to 9 sweet miles. That’s like a long run for me, but Saturday’s long run would be 12. Counting with strength training, miles, poor rest and life, my poor legs were taking the beating and by the following week, it said enough. Here I go dealing with a sore right calf just a week out from BDR 5K.

Rest didn’t work fast enough. The test run on the following week told me that my leg wasn’t ready yet. All the sudden, there was no plan for BDR. But my awesome coach suggested to play-by-ear, and if all goes well, just run BDR. I liked the idea. There was no pressure. I would be there just to really tested out my legs, avoid the waste of money I had paid for registration and still somewhat utilize the anticipation hype I had build up for BDR.

RACE PLAN:

  • Do the regular shenanigans I do for every workout. Nothing new here.
  • MILE 1 – Run without pain
  • MILE 2 – Run nicely
  • MILE 3 – Don’t cause damage and go get your bling.

That’s exactly what I did. Have a nice and easy run to test out your legs and have fun. There’s no shame if I needed to stop for a break. Just do me with the reserves my body had.

Ohhhh my goodness… it was a hot day too! And let me say that BDR 5K start time was at 9 o’clock. This is the equivalent of a noon start for a Florida race. By then it was 71 degrees with the humidity in the getting to mid-80s. So here goes nothing…

MILE 1 – 8:03 = Whaaat??? 8:03 pace? Needless to say that I was running on pure feel right here. I had no business in pushing the pace because my leg simply was not in the mood for it. But hey… I’ll take this since it wasn’t screaming yet.

MILE 2 – 8:15 = Yup, shit is getting real. The freakin heat and humidity is real too. I am thinking… I’m lucky to even be here and ran a 8:xx pace. I was also thinking, where’s the finish line?

MILE 3 – 8:18 = dang it! Part of me wanted to stay in the 8:15 or get a little closer to a round 8. But really, I was exhausted from the heat and humidity. My poor legs were done and needed TLC. The last .10, which my Garmin detected .17, took forever and ever to exist, but it [finish line] was there waiting for me at 25:56 / 8:22. Most certainly not a PR performance. However, based on the state of my leg, this was a sweet victory. And afterwards, my leg felt way better than I expected – for this speedy pace at least.

Well… now I can chill out, enjoy the festivities, visiting vendors tents, trying free goodies, searching who else is here, walked a lot as a cool down, and slowly went to the get my time slip – just to have an ideal of the official damage. To my surprise it read: AG position 2 of 88. [updated later to 2 of 92]

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Whaaaat??? My eyes were bigger than an orange and I had to ask the volunteer, does this entitled to a reward? She replies, yes, I think so. You can check with the volunteers at the reward table.

To say that I was in shock and overwhelmed with gratitude is an understatement. My expectation coming to this race wasn’t even to race but to run. I wanted to enjoy my run, run without pain and cross the finish line. I never even thought it was possible to take the podium without a PR.

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Life is damn good and a bitch, sometimes, but mostly great! Thank you!!

25:56 / 2nd in AG

“It’s about what we do with opportunities revoked or presented to us that determine how a story ends.” 

~David Goggins

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2018 In a Nutshell

“I want to be in the arena. I want to be brave with my life. And when we make the choice to dare greatly, we sign up to get our asses kicked. We can choose courage or we can choose comfort, but we can’t have both. Not at the same time.”

Brene Brown

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I’ve postponed writing this piece of the blog for six longass months now. I was trying to figure out a nicely way to put it; I wasn’t ready to write about my injury; I didn’t want to write about my injury and the missed opportunity to toe-line at Baystate marathon; I was busy with work and personal life; it was the holidays that came and went in a blink of an eye, and so many other things. But I’ve finally set my mind to it, sat down and started typing… typing whatever it came to mind without thinking and stressing whether it sounds pretty, fancy, appropriate or correct.

Without further ado…here it goes. The last five months of 2018 In a Nutshell and bullet points.

  • July – closed out the month with a bang of 140 freakin hot-humid miles. Summer in Florida was on the verge of peaking; thus, about to, or probably had it already, broke my body with its relentless heat and humidity. Yay! Happy Birthday, Celia! 40 never looked so good and strong, too!

 

  • August – heading to my second run of the month which was supposed to be a 10-miler with fast finish. It’s August 3, hot and humid as hell, stated well but my calves felt tight within the first .25 mile, especially my left. It had happened before, and it usually takes a good 2-3 miles to warm up and let the legs adapt to the high humidity and heat. Stop / Stretch / Run / Repeat was the theme of this run. There was no flow, I was tired and part of me still believed that I just needed to give it time and a few more miles of warm up. My kind hubby was on the bike to get his exercise and to support me along the way with company, fuel and hydration. I was getting concerned because I could see his frustration due to lack of flow and consistence with my running. Close to mile 4, I felt my left leg losing strength and did a awkward bend. Before then and thereafter, the pain was intolerable. I was in denial. I stopped. I ran. I stopped and ran some more until I called it quit at mile 4. When you know that you have to walk to your car because of the pain, you know something isn’t right. And you know it’s horrible as tears dropped down your eyes mixed with sweat.

 

  • Mid-August – A week rest didn’t help. Physical therapy didn’t help. Massage didn’t help. A test run was a failure. Off to the doctor I went, got some medicine and an order for an MRI. Treated for tendinitis for which the medicine should had worked within the next 3-4 days, it turns out that it wasn’t working. I knew then it was something worst as I wore the exam gown to get my MRI done in tears of sadness and despair. The results are out, went to my doctor to find out what I already knew – a left tibial stress fracture adjacent to the knee. “Yep, you have a stress fracture. I am sorry. It’s a common injury for runners and athletes. Even the elites get it”, said Dr. Mason, attempting to make me feel better. What’s next? Rest and recover, and some light cross training for the next 8-10 weeks. And no, you can not run, much less, race Baystate. That will have to be for next year.
  • September – after going through all the raw emotions of an injured athlete – DENIAL, ANGER, BARGAINING, DEPRESSION and ACCEPTANCE, I finally started moving on to the mental healing process. I started to plan my Saturdays mornings as if I were to have my long run on the schedule. First Saturday of the month, I did a 75-minute hot yoga class, which was as draining as running in the FL head and humidity. The rest of the month was filled with bike rides and adventuring into a new sport – road cycling. I love everything about road cycling. My favorite is climbing. My husband and I had a great time exploring our hilliest area nearby. I finally filled out the void of running with the hope that cycling was going to help me stay sane and in shape for running. Strength training and physical therapy was my new norm during the week. I am extremely grateful to my physical therapist, Ed, for helping me get back to health.

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  • October – new challenges, new opportunities. It was time for me to face my fear of water. I started to take swim lessons with coach Liesl. I love her. For the first time I felt comfortable in the pool and I was able to swim into the deeper side the pool at my own home. I also did many swim drills at the LA Fitness pool. I am eager to the possibility of completing a TRI in the near future. As I continued healing, I was able to run 30 miles for this month. Every day has been a step into the right direction.

 

  • November – more road cycling, more swim lessons and drills, more strength training, more physical therapy AND a new run coach. A friend once shared that when something you’ve not planned for happens, see it as an opportunity. I have been meditating on that perspective since my injury. Road cycling, swimming, more focus on strength training and physical therapy have all been a new opportunity for me. Practicing yoga was another opportunity that I’ve embraced. But one of the biggest opportunities this injury brought was the opportunity to work with Coach Dave at Ame For It. Coach Dave is truly a top of the line coach, and most importantly, a kind person. He cares. He cares about people and he cares about his athletes. Through our first phone conference, I knew immediately that I wanted him to be my coach and to guide to Hopkinton to Boston – and beyond. November progressed on track and I closed the month with 67 miles.

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  • December – December really felt like the new year for me. I started working with Dave and I could feel the difference his workouts made. His attention to detail and coaching on the mental aspect of training – not just the physical, is remarkable. His approach is always a workout at a time, a run at a time. I’ve been learning that since I started practicing meditation prior to the injury. As I started to be more consistent with running, a new challenge rose – trying to fit in all the extra-curricular training with running. I’m still learning to balance it out. December miles – 91!

 

CONCLUSION: 2018 was a badass year! It wasn’t how I had planned, but everything felt in the right place at the right time. I learned so much about myself and the most important thing I’ve learned was TO LET IT GO. LET GO OF ATTACHMENT! Baystate marathon was an attachment. Miles ran per month was an attachment. PR in every race was an attachment. This injury has taught different ways to care for my body from when rest is needed to proper nutrition. I learned what I really want from running. I do not just want to quality and run Boston. I want a lifetime of running. The only way to live that is by being present a run at a time, a day at a time. I know what my goal is; the rest will take care of itself as long as I show up and care for my body mindfully.

But just out of curiosity, I closed 2018 with 1,057 miles as opposed to 2017 with 1,028. Letting go of attachment is giving bigger results – and I am loving the process with so much gratitude.

Love the process!

“Sometimes the bravest and most important thing you can do is just show up.”

Brene Brown

 

Dear Unloving February…

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“Do what you have to do until you can do what you want to do.”

~Oprah Winfrey

Such a runner’s high ending January with 150 miles for the month only to get slammed on the face with the reality of a lower month mileage. Not everything is lovely, and although roses are ridiculous beautiful, it has thorns too.

Unfortunately February was not an easy month to navigate through life and training. From the get go, something totally out of my control derailed my progress and shook my physical and mental being. All of the sudden, my focus turned primarily to my health and getting back on track to being healthy again. My training schedule on a day-by-day and so it was everything else to the extent that I could make it on day-by-day. I was made and I was angry that I was harm was inflicted upon me. Sadly to this day, I still cannot publicly share. But I look forward to the day and opportunity to share to many of you.

I lost one week worth of training. From 32, 36, to 27 miles week, I was lucky that I got 7 miles in for that week. The mental and physical stress I went through was something I had never experienced. Being a runner and working on mental strength was what helped me during those dark days. I did my best to separate the problem and work on a solution. However, no matter how much you work on the solution and staying positive, time is the only component that can help. It really gets worse before it gets better. And it is in those days, hours, minutes and moment that you truly put toughness, hope and action into play. You realize then what you are made of.

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Eleven days later, I slowly started to resume to training again. My fitness was still there, but a lot of work was needed to restart and find rhythm. I was extremely low on energy in the mornings to get my runs and strength training workouts done. I had to really drag myself to get some miles in the bank after work. By then, everything that needed to get done – dinner, shower, taking care of our fur babies, and rest was all behind schedule.

My mom was here visiting me from Brazil and she helped as much as she could. But at the same time, it was hard for me as I needed to make sure she was well and comfortable. I wanted to spend as much time with her as possible, but at the same time, it was hard to find time for myself as work takes just about 90% of your time from family.

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My mantra for February became “Beat yesterday”; just beat yesterday every day, push a little more and you will almost there. Beat yesterday helped me see the light at the end of the tunnel.

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I was now left with only two week of training before my half marathon race – the Best Damn Race scheduled for the first Saturday of March. I believe in taper week to feel and be confident going to a race. My time was running short and I let go of a six mile run on the week before a race because my legs were just tired. I was feeling mentally burnt out and physically tired. I just wanted this training cycle to be over and race. What got me through was the anticipation of racing the best I could on that day and a good two weeks break from mandatory running.

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As the last week of February and taper week comes all at the same time, February month miles was what it was. 82 Miles of hard fought miles and I was still wondering how in the world I was even able to get these miles. It was the hardest month and hardest miles I logged in. These miles are not just number. There is no number to compare and analyze the struggle it was to get these miles in. It was pure grit that it is dug deep and you have no idea that it is there until a situation comes that asks you to dig deep.

So, take that February!

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“Beat Yesterday”

There’s NO PR Without Pain

“Someone once told me not to bite off more than I can chew. I told them I would rather choke on greatness than nibble on mediocrity”.

~Unknown

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There’s no doubt I ran OUC half hard with grit and pleasure on pursuing a big-time PR. I ran strong and everything felt in sync, except that my foot got tired of the 2.5 miles of brick road and wearing race/tempo shoes. As they say, there is NO PR without pain. So here’s how it went.

20-minute Post Race:

Just about 20-minutes after the race as my body is starting to cool off but still running high on runner’s high, I felt a flare on the lateral of my left foot. I told my husband I felt something sharp on my foot and I thought that perhaps it was from the edge of my Superfeet insole. I stretched and putting on my flip flops. The pain went away and I proceeded with the post-race festivities, visiting vendors’ tents, meeting IG friends and searching for some running friends until it was time to go home.

At Home:

At home I got to stretch a little bit before it was time to take a shower and head out with my husband to an introductory sesh of Transcendental Meditation course we wanted to sign up. I feeling very good, nothing really bothered me at all. After the course, we headed back home and I was finally able to relax, wear my compression socks while sipping on ginger latte to diminish any inflammation I might had.

By the evening time, my foot was starting to ache. I massaged and iced. By the time I started to settle-in in bed, the pain was intense. It did not stop. I had to take pain medicine to be able to fall asleep. By morning, my foot was really swallowed up, the pain was still sharp and localized in one spot. I was scared. I limped to the homegym for a stretching sesh and I barely could wrap the stretch wrap on my foot, much less use R3. All I could do was to massage my foot.

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I spent the entire day on the couch watching football while my foot was wrapped in a towel with ice packs. During that time, my foot seemed to feel better, but as soon as I needed to walk, the pain was right back. At night time, the pain usually got worse, especially when I laid down in bed. I just could not fall sleep as the pain tended to become intense. I had my foot elevated and wrapped with ice pack. It was another sleepless and painful night. By now I was petrified that perhaps I suffered a stress fracture; just because the way the pain was manifesting and intensifying without much relief.

I make my own Doctor’s Appointment:

Comes Monday morning and I was up at 6:00 a.m. with eyes wide open. I was on a mission to be seen by Dr. Mason, my podiatrist, and NO I did not had an appointment. I am an athlete and I just could not take a NO for an answer, so I went there, checked-in and waited to be seen. I said that I could wait for as long as I had to. I’m grateful that Dr. Mason is a kind doctor who is also a runner and cyclist. He knows me well, and if I was there, it was because it was a serious situation.

After a 90-minute wait, my name was called. I actually double-checked if Brian had called my name. I was thrilled. Dr. Mason entered the examination room surprised to see me, and for a moment, I was apologetic for showing up without an appointment. But he immediately started to take care of my foot and directed me straight to the X-Ray room. Thank you Heavens the X-Ray didn’t show anything, but because my pain was so unbearable, he ordered an MRI with a follow up appointment in 7-days. I was prescribed with anti-inflammatory meds but no cortisone shot because he wanted to make sure I was being treated for inflammation and not an actual stress fracture.

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I left his office feeling a little more relieved. I was still worried because the pain was still present and strong, but at least I had something to take care of the inflammation. At home, I was still icing it and drinking ginger tea and tart cherry juice to help out with my healing. Mentally, I was trying to stay as positive and calm as possible. Three-days after the race, and I was still limping pretty bad but it was only Day-2 on anti-inflammatory meds, which Dr. Mason predicted that I should be feeling better my Day-4. Day-4 after the race I was starting to walk normal. The pain was dissipating and my hopes were blighting up. On this same day, I had my MRI scheduled and I was happy to get it done. The week progressed with great results, inflammation and pain was fading and healing was at full-force.

Dr. Mason’s Follow Up Visit:

It was great to go back to see Dr. Mason without any pain this time. As he went over my MRI results, he was glad to have it ordered because the report mentioned “suspicious stress reaction”. I was happy to hear no stress fracture, but at the same time, I realized how close it was from actually being one or a stress reaction. He recommended no-running for another four days. Of course I cried by telling I was feeling better and that I was already on no-running for the past 9 days. He then changed his mind and allowed me to run easy on the next day. However, I was still uncomfortable with the idea.

Reporting to the Coach:

Well after receiving some good news, I had to share with my coach to have some running back on the schedule. To my surprise, Coach Victoria’s reply wasn’t what I was expecting. She didn’t schedule or clear me to run just yet. She wanted me to give more time for healing. I was emotional and worried that going on a 15-day streak without running, I was going to have to start everything from scratch like I did before. After some pep-talk and uplifting feedback, I came to realize that it was for the best. It was best to give more time for healing. If I were to lose some fitness, it would not be by much because I know I am strong and I do have untapped speed in me.

Focus on Recovery:

Recovery. Recovery. Recovery. It was not different this time; keep doing what needs to be done. I am glad that I scheduled my monthly chiropractor appointment with Dr. Sabrina a day after seeing Dr. Mason. I reported to her what happened, Dr. Mason’s and MRI’s findings and my coach’s recommendations. Dr. Sabrina did her usual thing of adjusting my body and providing incredible guidance on body mechanics and strength methods to work properly with my body mechanics. She concluded that my injury simply was a “circumstantial injury”. There was nothing I could have done based on the circumstances of the race and how hard I ran. The only difference perhaps was not wearing a race/tempo shoe on brick road, but that was too late. Moving forward, I will be focusing on strength routine for my beautiful peroneus muscles. Having graston technique done on my feet was something to be remembered for sure!

Do What You can So You Can Do What You Want to Do:

There is not a boring moment if you are runner. Even if running is not an option, there was plenty of other things to do that will supplement running. Stretch and roll is a must do every day whether I’m actively running or not. So on the days I wasn’t running, I was working to get ready for running. I did some yoga, core work, some weight work, rowing, sauna and I walked for 10 miles on Disney Day. Kurt and I have our annual Disney Day and between visiting Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios and Epcot, I’m pretty sure I logged 10 miles easily for the day. Too bad that my Garmin died at mile 6.65.

Get Back in Business 100% Healthy

I was so excited to get back into running again and very grateful that Krista didn’t mind going for a 3-mile run on Saturday. I felt good throughout my run, but at times, I noticed that my body was still trying to figure out what was happening after 15-days of no running. Krista acted as if I was on taper for 15-days and this run was my “race day” as she picked up the pace at mile 2 at 8:46 pace. It was a great run and I was still “on observation” as I was mindful on how my foot would feel after this run.

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First Run Post OUC Half Marathon

The following week started to look like a normal training schedule and I was gradually picking up where I left off. My husband and I made sure that Transcendental Meditation is now part of our lives and routine with two 20-minute sesh daily. I am in love with Transcendental Meditation! It’s the simplest thing ever. I was never able to dig into meditation and follow through, but practicing TM technique it is possible to follow through. I feel centered, grounded, focused, positive and calm. My running is becoming more relaxed, focused and breathing is more settled which helps me with my performance.

This week’s fartlek was fun and emotional at the same time. I exceeded the recommended pace and I felt that my body was ready to give me these paces; otherwise, I wouldn’t never pushed this much. I was watching Breaking 2 Special (again), but this time it felt different. I felt more alert and more connected with Kipchoge. I felt his moment of distress as he was pushing his limit, and yet, he appeared so calm and relaxed. And so I cried, as I was finishing up my 6 miles for the day with so much gratitude and humbleness. It is a beautiful thing to watch and feel someone chasing their dreams; knowing and feeling how hard it is. All of the sudden, I didn’t feel so alone chasing mine because it is just a matter of time until it becomes real.

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2 mile warm up; 6 minutes @ 9:00 pace; 4 minutes @ 8:30 pace; 2 minutes @ 8:00 pace
2 minute jog in between; Cool down to mileage

I am enthusiastic for the new year and to find out what my body and mind can do; where running will take me this time. But first, respecting the body and mind is a priority. Recover well, I must. That’s rule # 1 in chasing dreams.

Cheers!

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“Hope is a waking dream.”

~Aristotle

Road To Recovery

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“Don’t lose your fire.”

~Unknown~

March was definitely the injury month, and even then, I managed to log 40.04 miles. It’s a significant decrease in comparison to February month at 90.1 miles, but things happens. However, I was hopeful that April would bring brighter miles and a speedy recovery; hence, I was mistaken.

April miles were even less than March miles. I closed the month with only 34.2 miles. It was frustrating, but what was even more frustrating was the fact the my left adductor injury aka: groin, hamstring, quads, glutes and hip nagging pain-in-the-ass for lack of better analogy, was still bothering me. The road to recovery was a long one, too long.

On the other side of the picture, the hours I spent doing strength training, cross training and PT workouts was something I’ve never had spent so much time on it. I wish I had done it before the injury. Not being able to run teaches to focus on what I can do instead of crying over spill milk. So for strength training I spent 17:25 hours working on arms, legs, core, upper, lower body. For cross training I opted to spinning sessions and I put on 1:11:52; equivalent to 22.23 miles. For every strength training session and cross training session, I included physical therapy (PT) workouts involving resistance bands, Bosu ball, stretching with resistance bands and yoga blocks, for a total of 12:00:00 worth of PT.

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It has been a difficult month for me both physically and mentally. At times I came to the realization that I just need to be patient and do what I can do when I can do, but in reality, it is difficult and challenging. It took me two weeks and some change off from running to start to feel that I could give it a try again. When I did my try-runs, they were still uncomfortable. Some of the runs were great; for example, a 3.10 miles at 9:37 average pace, but after the run was over, the stiffness on my leg didn’t lie informing that I still needed to be cautious and needed more rest.

Coach Victoria was very cautious with my training. She did not hurry anything and approached the new cycle with a new method – run and walk for a few weeks, 2-minute run, 2-minute walk and only for 2 miles. I was just happy to be on a training schedule again, but this time without any pressure to get ready for a race. The only pressure was to start to feel 100% better.

Patient is truly a virtue. Through this new method I had to learn to be patient with myself, be kinder to my body and focus on what I can control. As the weeks passed under this new method, I started to feel stronger and the stiffness on my leg were more manageable after each run; something I could fix with a post-run stretch and roll session. Seriously, I could not neglect stretching and rolling.  The Roll Recovery R8 has been a life safer for me. It has been so helpful that I decided to get R3 as well. With R8 I can roll my entire glute, hamstring, quads and especially the adductor area. I immediately feel the release of tension and flush of lactic acid on my legs. I roll my calves and Achilles as well.

Going through another recovery period has taught me a different kind of mental toughness. Instead of being upset and negative about it, I kept on focusing on the positive aspect of the journey. I realized I was doing things that would make me a stronger runner. I’d be lying to say that it was easy and that I didn’t have my crying moments on my husband’s shoulders and ears. But I did my best to stay focused on searching for positive quotes and acting upon it. And I truly believed on the saying: “Every setback is a setup for a comeback”. But the breakthrough of learning to run by feel is one of the most valuable so far along with my Coach’s emphasis that “sometimes it takes more will power to hold back”.

It’s hard to get injured and disrupt the flow of the body’s adaptation to the hard work of training. But a setback is a form of adaptation, and every time we push our bodies, it will come to a point that it will need a break to regroup. At the end of the day, there’s nothing more valuable to feel than gratitude whether it is for a bad run or for the good ones. I believe that this time I was more ready to face a setback than I had ever been before. It’s about learning to get up stronger when I fall down. But a refusal to give up when falling down.

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2:2:2 recovery jog, faster pace , walk (w/out walk break) 11:19, 9:32, 10:20, 9:26, 10:05, 9:02, 9:46, 9:04, 10:01 8:47

“The purpose of training is to tighten up the slack, toughen the body, and polish the spirit.”

Morihei Ueshiba