Rocky would have been proud of me today.
I embarked this morning on my long run for the week, a scheduled nine-miler. The temperature was a tolerable 14 degrees, making it feel like a day on the beach compared to last Saturday. PITA joined me right away and as I bent over to greet her, she was so excited, she tried to lick my face. Whoa now... just because I'm letting you run with me doesn't mean you can slobber all over me. Down, girl.
All was quite well until five miles into the run. Despite fairly diligent self-treatment (including the dreaded apppropriate stretches), I've had lingering problems with an achy hip for the past several months. As I've been increasing my mileage again, my hip has been making more noise; at mile five, my hip was making so much noise, it was waking up the neighborhood. I've run through the ache before and was determined to do the same today, but it seemed to be much more of a concerted effort this time. Interestingly, the faster I ran, the less it ached, which worked fine until I grew tired of running faster than my normal pace and had to slow down to catch my breath.
Queue the ache.
At mile six, I stopped and did something I've never done before-- stretch on the side of the road. PITA was confused at first, but then took the opportunity to come lay at my feet for a belly rub while I stretched. I only spent two or three minutes stretching my hip, but it was enough to cool down my sweat a little, allowing the chill in the air to take hold of me. Unlike last week, the sun wasn't out and I realized what a difference that made, no matter the number on the thermometer. I picked up into a run again, still feeling the ache and combined with the cold, I was becoming more miserable by the minute.
I've had many times like this before during long runs when my body really struggles to find a comfortable groove, no matter what I do. They creep up on me when I least expect them (although, if I were more in tune with the capabilities and limits of my body, I might come to better anticipate them). Runs like these aren't enjoyable by any means, but I've come to learn they're the kind of runs that make me a stronger athlete, both physically and mentally. I call them my "Eye of the Tiger" runs.
I did eventually finish the nine miles and after a lot of stretching, icing and ibuprofen, my hip feels much better. This coming training week is a fallback and it couldn't come at a better time. A rest day tomorrow will be all it takes to have me ready for another week of workouts, armed with a little more toughness and killer instinct to add to my running resumé.
I can hear Rocky now... "Yo, Angie!"