A year ago, if you had told me that I would use both those words in the same sentence, I would have laughed at you.
I've been having a bit of shin pain the last couple days. I think it's likely from Friday's race where I ran harder then I ever had before. It may also be a sign that I need new running shoes. Might be a sign of something bigger, though I'm optimistic it's not. Could be a combination of the above.
Regardless, it's a sign that right now is not the time to push it. I need to take it easy in hopes that it stays mild and doesn't get worse. Yesterday, I did a swim instead of a run. Today I wanted to run, but I knew I had to go easy and be careful.
I planned a 6 km (3.7mi) run that took me close to my house at multiple points. It left me the option of cutting the run short anytime I needed to and not have to walk too far to get home. I warmed up with more of a walk then usual. (Who am I kidding? Lately, it's been so cold, I don't warm up at all. Let's just say I actually warmed up...)
Then I ran. I made a conscious decision not to look at my garmin much. I just let my legs find their happy, easy pace. It wasn't especially hard work. I never felt like I needed to stop and walk. (I did walk a couple hills up and down just to keep things easy on my leg.) I didn't have my ipod. I just experienced the run, looked at the river and listened to my breath.
My shin gave me no trouble. In fact, it didn't hurt at all, and it felt no worse after finishing the run. What struck me about this run was how easy it was.
When I originally started running, I ran as slow as I could go and still call it running. Even doing that, it was a challenge to run those early intervals - 60 seconds, 90 seconds, 3 minutes seemed huge! Now, I can just run. Not as slow as I can go, but at an easy pace that my body feels comfortable with. I won't break any time records, but I feel like I could keep going indefinitely.
Sometimes, things happen for a reason. When I injured my knee many months ago, it forced me to spend more time in the pool, which got me past my fear of deep water. This time, slowing down and taking it easy is reminding me of how far I have come and the value of what I have now.