It's not a recurring dream, but it's a recurring dream event. Whenever I run in a dream--away from danger, or towards a half-naked Daniel Craig--it always feels like I am j u u u u u u s t s l o g g i n g through the space. My brain is telling me that I can run faster, that I must run faster. Daniel Craig needs you!! My dream appendages, on the other hand, are not getting the dream memo and I am running through a world made of custard. A world of custard and Daniel Craig? Umm, OK! Or, sometimes, in an even stranger scenario, I am pumping my arms and legs freely, but the world is not moving past me as fast as it should. Daniel Craig is standing exactly where he was, even though I have been running towards him for a good five dream minutes.
Oh, irony is fun.
For the past six weeks, I have been on the elliptical staring longingly at the people on the treadmills. When I see runners on the street, I stare at their legs and hips, hoping to observe something they are doing that I am not. I look at their shoes. I look at their posture. I wonder how a woman built like me can run like the wind, while I run like a maimed yak stuck in a mud puddle. It is so not fair, but discouragement breeds giving up and all sorts of nasty circumstances.
In addition to my new found relationship with the elliptical, I have also been hanging with a chiropractor regularly, drinking my vegetables, rolling around on the floor with this sadist, dabbling a bit with ChiRunning, and saying really sexy things to D.R. like, "Honey will you rub my hip?" and "Slow down, my shoe orthodics aren't broken in yet." All of this because a tiny little tendon does not have the ability to support my robust German hips. German engineering, my ass!
With exactly 12 weeks until the half marathon, I decided last Sunday that I would re-engage the running. I have done some research on runners' usage of heart rate monitors and decided to give it a shot. The idea being, if easy runs are executed at 65%-75% of maximum heart rate, one will build endurance in the heart and lungs, strength in the muscles and tendons, and avoid turning the body into one giant injury. Once a running base is built, faster and harder runs can be incorporated. Makes perfect sense.
Armed with this new information, I strode triumphantly to the treadmill. I started running a very slow mile. I wasn't gasping for air and my hip felt pretty good. I placed my hands on the heart rate sensors and the beeping red heart icon gave me the equivalent reading of "Dear God, your heart is going to explode!" Confused but obedient, I slowed the pace. Five minutes later, I took another reading. No imminent explosion, but I was definitely being warned. Seriously?! Before my injury, I was running and working out at a much faster pace than this. And, it's not as if I'd been sitting on the couch eating pizza and ice cream for six weeks. What is the deal?
The good news is, I got off the treadmill with only a little soreness in my hip. I took a couple ibuprofen and went about my day. Yesterday, I took to the streets with my new snazzy heart rate monitor. Every few minutes I checked my heart rate and adjusted accordingly. By the end of the run, it felt exactly like my dream -- running so slow that the world is not even moving. It took me 44 minutes to cover 3 miles. Pre-injury, I could run 3 miles in about 30 minutes!
Now, I am fully aware that I suffer from a rampant disease called Impatience. I am also aware that I cannot go back to doing the same things I was, or I will continue to have the same injury. And, if we're being completely honest here, my heart probably is working harder than it should because of 10-15 pounds that just really adore my butt and backs of my arms. I have been so busy congratulating myself for "being a runner" that I haven't given my body the proper care. Who cares if I'm hauling 10-15 extra pounds, I can run five miles without stopping, suckas! Oh, those rationalizations sound so good, don't they?
So, I am stuck in a dream, and it's not the fun Inception kind. I am accepting my body's current limits with the realization that they are there only because I have made it so. I will remember that if I make demands of my body, I must also show it courtesy, care, and a salad every now and then. I will not gripe (too much) at my initial slow running times, knowing that my reward will be stronger, more sustainable fitness. I will deal with the custard running. I just hope Daniel Craig will wait for me.