September 23, 2021

Return to Running Recap : Week 17

I feel like I'm saying the same old things on these recaps each week. If I didn't write them, though, there are a lot of times where I would have skipped running! Whenever I don't want to run, I think about having to write that on my recap, and it gives me the push I need to get started ;)

I wrote last week that I would like to either increase my distance or add a day per week or something like that. I think what I'm going to try doing is to run every other day. That will help for two reasons: 1) I'm only increasing my runs to 7 out of 14 days instead of the current 6; and 2) I won't skip several days in a row and then do 2-3 runs back-to-back. The ideal situation would be to space them out evenly.

I wrote such a vague "I think what I'm going to try doing..." because I don't know that I want to commit to that! Haha. BUT, as I write this, I have decided that I'm going to do it. There is no reason not to run every other day! And one of the biggest reasons that I want to do this is because of something I've noticed lately about my pain levels.

I don't want to get into all the details again here, but basically I've been dealing with chronic pain for several years and it's gotten a lot worse over the past year or so. I had 10,000 tests done by numerous doctors and I was recently diagnosed with fibromyalgia by a rheumatologist. However, that doesn't really sit right with me; deep in my gut (and I have very reliable "gut feelings") I feel like the pain was caused by the trauma I put my body through when I was remodeling the house. I worked on the house about nine hours a day, seven days a week... simply because I loved doing it!

I was always sore and I had new bruises all the time, but I thought that was just a given--of course I was going to feel that way when my body wasn't used to doing things like drywalling. I now feel like I have a permanent hunchback from all of the bending over; my hands naturally feel like they want to be curled into fists all the time (from squeezing spray bottles and holding paintbrushes and the drill and numerous other things); my shoulders are always knotted up which causes pain in my neck and whole upper body; and my hips and knees get incredibly stiff and sore to the point where it's hard to walk upright. And my back? Forget about it!

I'm not bringing this up to complain, but rather because I've noticed something in regards to running. You would think that with all of the pain, the last thing I'd be able to do is run (even at my slow pace). And a lot of times, I really procrastinate running because my body hurts.

However, I've noticed that when I get out of bed in the mornings after a run day, I am able to walk normally rather than really stiffly and hunched over. I've gotten so used to being in pain when I wake up (the pain is the worst in the mornings) that when I get out of bed and don't feel pain, I notice it immediately. Those first few moments when I get out of bed can make or break my whole day.

On the weeks where I skip several days in a row of running, I notice that my pain level is super high. But for the couple of days where I run back-to-back in order to fit in three runs, I feel a lot better.

I know this isn't anything profound; we're always hearing about studies that show exercise is good for all sorts of things, including pain. But this is one of those things that I just didn't really think about until now that I've noticed the effects. I am hoping that if I run every other day, I'll have a lot more pain-free mornings.

Okay, so here is the recap for my three runs in Week 17:

Week 17, Day 1 : Run 3 miles at 5.0 mph (treadmill)

This ended up being my worst run of the week. I just didn't feel great--my legs felt super heavy and I felt very winded. I was sure my heart rate was going to be super high, but surprisingly, it was relatively average.

Week 17, Day 2 : Run 3 miles at 5.5 mph (treadmill) for a tempo run

I decided that for some sort of speed work this week, I'd do a tempo run. A tempo run is where you run a little faster than normal--not as if you're racing, but enough to where you're slightly uncomfortable throughout the run. (Typically, this is your 10K race pace--the pace that you would be able to race a 10K.) Since I always do my treadmill runs at 5.0 mph, I decided to set it at 5.5 mph.

I had no idea how I was going to feel through this! But I was feeling very good (mentally and physically) on that morning, so I thought it would be a good time to do my speed work. And I really wanted to go out in the garage and work on a project; I've been itching to build something lately. I figured that if I run faster, I can be done sooner so that I can work on something fun ;)

At first, I wondered if 5.5 mph was going to be too easy for a tempo run. I felt good and it barely felt harder than the usual 5.0 mph. However, after the first mile, I definitely felt the difference in speed. I was uncomfortable enough to want to lower the speed, but I knew I could keep going (that's exactly how a tempo pace should feel).

It felt really good to do the whole run at a slightly faster pace! My heart rate was about where I expected it to be for this.

Week 17, Day 3 : Run 3 miles at 5.0 mph (treadmill)

I did this run yesterday. I spent the whole morning in the garage (I'll post about my new project tomorrow) and I was definitely ready to relax when I came inside. However, Eli had a soccer game (yes, that's correct--soccer! I'll explain tomorrow.) so I had to get my run done and take a shower before going to his game.

I actually felt really good--my breathing was steady and I felt like my heart rate had to be low. I didn't want to look, though, until the very end. I was surprised to see that it wasn't nearly as low as it felt:

It's interesting--when I was MAF training in 2016, I could tell you within a beat or two exactly what my heart rate was at any given time during a run. Now, however, I have no idea. I might think it's in the 130s and then when I look, I see it's in the 150s! If I want to get that in-tune again, I'll probably have to do *real* MAF training. I'm just not in that mindset right now, though. Now, I just want to keep experimenting and running in a way that makes me feel good (mentally and physically).

Okay, so I am stating here that I am committing to run on Friday, Sunday, and Tuesday for Week 18!


  1. Please don’t refer to your running pace as slow.. it is what I aspire to.

    1. I'm sorry! I try to remember to put "relatively" in front of the word slow, because compared to my pace before my "return to running", it's a couple of minutes per mile slower. I don't think it's a bad thing to run this pace! I'm just happy to be able to run :)

  2. I'm so glad you've made the connection between exercise and improved physical pain! That's my experience too! I'm not sure I wrote about it, but when I don't run or at last walk very quickly, my pain is awful. You're doing so well. Glad you're continuing. It inspires us all.

  3. It's so strange that you wrote about pain and how running seems to ease it. Over the last month I've returned to running and found the same thing. It's like running sorts out all the little kinks and pains and gets stuff moving. I've found every other day to be very helpful. I've also noticed a HUGE difference in pain levels when I cut out sugar and gluten. My doctor said thats likely because those substances drive inflammation and the more inflammation in the joints the more pain I have. When I combine the eating well and the running I'm pain free which makes it 1000% worth it. Hope the running continues to help you!


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