Injured runner: The new normal?

I’m running three to four times a week — anywhere from 20 to 30 minutes.

I dusted off the pretty Suunto I was gifted for Christmas (of 2016). I’m still getting used to the device and am learning all its features but the main reason I am using the GPS watch is because I need to know how far I am running.

Because I am attempting a 5K trail race at the end of the month.

I signed up for the race several weeks ago and with my PT’s “blessing,” I am encouraged to train for it.

But, what does training entail? It just means I am running three to four times a week and making sure I am at least hitting three miles.

I am slow.

I’m able to run three miles at just over 10 minute/mile pace. This is slow for me. It makes me frustrated and fine all at the same time.

Sometimes I wonder if I’ll ever be back to my “normal running self” again.

Will I comfortably be able to run sub 9s in my neighborhood for a leisurely run? Will I be able to knock out a 7-minute pace road 5K like I once did?

Will I ever be able to sub-4 hour the road marathon? Something I never accomplished before I got injured but that I attempted time and time again …

Or, is going out for 30-minute runs with some off and on soreness on my left knee going to be my forever? Will racing be “just to finish” rather than to fulfill a time goal? Will I just never be running or racing long distances again?

I don’t know.

I’m hoping all of this is not my new normal. I’m hoping it’s my new temporary.


Stronger than you think

I looked up from the TV monitor attached to the elliptical, tired of another “Chopped” rerun on the Food Network, and saw a wall full of motivational phrases and words painted across from me.

It was a Saturday morning of PT exercises followed by some form of cardio at the gym.

I was over it. I’ve been over it. I am over it.

Who knew that August of last year when the doctor diagnosed me with a stress fracture of the knee after my first MRI, that I would still not be running today. (For the record, he told me I’d be running anywhere from six weeks to six months).

It’s been 14 months since then.

I’ve had a new doctor since then.

I’ve done a lot of walking, swimming, PT exercises, stationary biking and elliptical-ing. I’ve talked a lot about not running. I’ve written a lot about not running.

But, back to that Saturday morning at the gym.

One phrase on the wall stood out to me the most: You are stronger than you think.

I kept repeating the sentence over and over in my head as I continued using the elliptical. It was kind of cathartic.

In all 10, 15+ years of being a runner*, not running has been the biggest challenge.

But, I am stronger than I think. And so are you.


*I ran cross-country in high school as a freshman but didn’t even like running then. I did it for the social aspects of being on a team. By no means did I consider myself a runner back then. But, I stuck with the team throughout high school and running became my lifelong friend. As you can see, I’m not good at letting go of friendships. 

Injured runner: Hiking it out

I have a new goal.

If I’m not going to get any running miles in this year, well, I’m going to get some hiking miles in!

My doctor and physical therapist both have no objections to hiking. Doc said maybe wear a brace just so it will mentally make me feel stronger, if nothing else. So, for the past several weekends, I’ve been going on a hike nearly every week.


My goal? To hike at least 30 times during my 30th year.

My birthday was in June and I have already gone on 10 hikes. (I didn’t officially start this goal until like September with my first hike of the season being in August). Seeing that I have eight more months until my next birthday, I’m pretty confident that I will be able to surpass my goal of 30.

Maybe this is the “silver lining” of being injured from running.


I get to hike.

When I’m marathon training, my whole schedule revolves around running. Since there’s always a long run that needs to “get done” on weekends, there is never time — or energy — for a hike to fit into my training plans. My priority has always been running.


I got some great hikes in during the summer with friends and family. Now that it’s cooler — and snowy — Bryce and I have done a few “winter hikes” already. I’m pretty lucky that even though I’m injured from running, I am still able to climb to the tops of mountains, see water falls and witness the Cascades in all of its glory.

Of course, I still miss running every day.

At least now I can have my weekly hike to look forward to.

A runner who isn’t running

It’s been 11 months since my last injury-free run.

It’s been nine months since my last run.

As each day passes, I feel less and less like a runner. I try not to think about running or not running since it just puts me in a bad/sad mood.

But, it has been nice when others make comments to me, treating me like the runner they knew before I got my stress fracture.

One friend who is currently training for an IRONMAN, recently messaged me on Facebook asking for running advice. She asked me for any nearby hilly running route recommendations because she needs to do more hill training in preparation for her race.

I was touched that she reached out to me and responded with a few of my go-to routes. (Yes, Discovery Park, you obviously made the list!)

And then I was chatting with a colleague who used to work on my team and she asked me if I was running again yet. When I told her that I wasn’t and that I have still been experiencing off-and-on knee pain, her response was something along the lines of, “Wow, that must be really hard for you. After all, several of us on the team ran but you were the only real runner among us.”

I was beaming on the inside that she called me a real runner.

We’ve been having a few sun breaks in Seattle in the midst of all the dumping-rain spells. I do still gauge the temperature based on whether it would be running-shorts-weather or not.

So, some runner instincts still cannot be erased.


Continuing the run commute

Just a check in to keep me honest on run commuting home.

It’s still happening, folks!

I’m getting my runs in after work.

I’m not getting stressed out waiting for the bus.

I’m enjoying Seattle fall weather.

And, so far, I haven’t had a single run in the rain. (Knock on wood).


As the colder and wetter weather comes into full force, I will do my best to continue to run one to three times a week home from work.

The hardest part will probably be packing my running outfit the morning of.


But, if wardrobe dilemmas are the hardest part, I think fall/winter run commuting will be just great!

Pre-25K race jitters

Saying I’m nervous for my race would be an understatement.

I feel unprepared, under-trained, and out of my element.

I will be doing the Cle Elum 25K this coming Saturday but after last Saturday’s fall, I’m not feeling too confident.

What if I fall again?

Also, to add insult to injury — Is that the right phrase for this situation? — my left scraped-up leg hurts just when walking!

If I were about to embark on a road race, I would be very confident in my training. I know I’m in good shape for a road runner.

But, for the trails? I’m not so certain.

Training for this race, I only got out to the trails maybe a total of five times.

And, my last trail race was two years ago!

Also, the furthest distance I have raced on trails was eight miles. I will be doing about double that come Saturday.

*Happy thoughts*happy thoughts*happy thoughts*

Phyllis, my seasoned trail runner-friend (and might I add, trained and successfully raced a trail marathon while in medical school!) told me to treat my 25K as a brisk hike.

I really hope it’s brisk, and not a slog-fest.

I really hope I don’t fall.

I have no goal time. I don’t even care if I come in last place.

I just want to finish — with a smile.

I’m a (one-way) run commuter!

My first run home two weeks ago was hard. From my work at the bottom of Eastlake (think pretty close to South Lake Union) to my residency in the Maple Leaf neighborhood is all up hill. That’s five miles of straight up Eastlake to the University Bridge and then straight up Roosevelt with some gradual straight-aways here and there.

Seen on my run

Seen on my run

I was dripping sweat as it was in the mid-80s. My back was drenched with my backpack clinging close to it. And, on every uphill step — which was a majority of the run  — my calves felt like they were going to explode.

“So, this is what run commuting is like,” I thought to myself as I came this close to stopping and walking home with a mile left.

I made it back in exactly 50 minutes. I did it in 10 minute pace, which considering the hills, I was OK with.

It was nice being back home and not having to go out on my run, like I normally would have if I had taken the bus home.

The second run home last week was much better. It was 10 degrees cooler so I didn’t feel like I was melting. I got into a better rhythm going up the hills and passed by fewer smokers as I had the previous time, which was a big plus!

I also ran home in a 3-minute PR!

I could perhaps get used to this whole run commuting thing. I can only do it going home though because there’s too much maintenance/preparation with running to work. (I have a thick head of hair so I need a hairdryer).

Running home won’t happen every day because a 5-mile run five times a day seems a little too hardcore for me.

However, it definitely will keep me sane from not having to deal with this every day:

No caption necessary

No caption necessary

Yes, that bus of mine was more than 20 minutes late because it didn’t arrive “now” like One Bus Away stated …

So, while the rest of you suckers are stuck in traffic driving home, or waiting for the ever-elusive bus, I’ll be running home!

I’ll wave as I run by.