Feel Good Friday: The 5-Mile Road Back to Health

I really feel as though I’ve made a solid effort to get healthy again this week. Starting on Tuesday, I made a plan to incrementally nurse myself back to a balanced state, beginning with a walk, then a short run, then a longer, slow run, and today, a nice 5-mile run at a normal, moderate pace. I even prepared a colorful, healthy, extra vitamin-packed meal last night to fuel myself with vegetables and nutrients to make sure that I really have seen the last of this nasty sore throat. On the menu: some of my favorites, including tomatoes, avocado and chickpeas.

Under any normal circumstance, I’d have woken up on Friday morning feeling rested, refreshed and ready to go. I wouldn’t have bags under my eyes or a knot in my stomach. Unfortunately, turmoil on the home front left me up all night having conversations inside my head, and by the time my eyes swung open at 6a.m. without the need for an alarm, I had only gotten about 5 hours of sleep – a far cry from my usual 8 to 9 hours.

Sleep or no sleep, I’ve been determined to stick to my plan, and so with whatever little energy I could muster, I got dressed and stepped out the door to run as many miles as I had slept the night before: 5.

A solid run is one of my favorite ways to end the work week and to justify any alcohol-based shenanigans that could potentially take place after leaving the office for the weekend. With everything going on in my head, I thought the run would end up acting as a therapy session. In reality, I became almost instantly mentally at peace, and I spent the hour concentrating more on my pace and the budding flowers in Central Park than anything else.

I think the best way to describe Friday’s run would be consistent, which was a really welcomed adjective after a week of such utter inconsistency. From the moment I ran out the door to the moment I stepped into the park, I felt strong and confident in my every stride. It was easy to become entranced by the surroundings with trees that looked like this.

I decided to run just the bottom loop of Central Park, given the fact that I was on very little shut eye and I’d still have an entire work day to get through after. The path was packed with runners, walkers and bikers, and really, it was a nice spring-like moment despite the overcast skies and lingering chill.

By the time I got to the bottom of the park, I was ready to head home. It wasn’t that I didn’t feel strong enough or have the energy or time to continue onward; it’s just that, for today, 55 minutes or so of running was simply enough. Especially if I plan on getting a solid run in this weekend.

The only factor that could have made my morning better would have been a pair of new running sneakers, which I should be receiving by mail tomorrow. I’m hoping that new kicks help me solve the toe problem I’ve been dealing with, and that maybe it feels strained because of a lack of cushioning. Only time will tell though.

It’s funny, because after reading Born to Run, I got it in my head that the idea of running sneakers was all a scam. Not that I’m considering going barefoot or anything, but maybe the whole ritual of tossing sneakers every 300 miles or whatever is a marketing scheme. After all, according to a lot of studies, the less support and cushioning and all that jazz, the better.

So I performed an unscientifically founded experiment. As my sneakers started to wear out after the Manhattan half marathon, I decided to continue running in them. The Mexican tribesmen didn’t need new sneakers, Stacy, and neither do you. This is all in your head. As it turns out, the joke was on me. Withholding my purchase resulted in a mysteriously faulty toe. After taping it for 3 weeks, I also now have a nice blister on an adjacent toe and have wrapped that one up as well. Probably not the smartest move, but it’s all definitely worth it for mornings like these.

Anyway, here’s to a good weekend filled with lots of rest and running and wine and gummies. And if you’re coming up on your last training weekend before the New York City Half Marathon, good luck! You’re all (yes, all 15,000 of you) going to rock it.

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