Breaking a Running Streak and a Holiday Mile

Well, I have officially blown my running streak. The goals was to run a mile every day from Thanksgiving to New Year's Day, but something about the Holiday Mile did me in.

On Tuesday night (a week ago) I met up with several Fleet Feet friends for an unofficial race called the Holiday Mile. There had been several such unofficial races throughout the year: first a beer mile this summer, then a taco mile this fall, and then a holiday mile this December.

1 mile, 4 cookies, 4 glasses of milk

The concept is simple: 1 mile, 4 cookies, 4 glasses of milk. You start the race by gobbling down a glass of milk and a cookie, and then you run a quarter mile. Stop, eat a cook and drink a glass of milk, run a quarter mile, repeat until the mile is done. (FYI: the stress on your stomach is about equivalent to running a Krispy Kreme Challenge.)

I was ambitious and brought a cookie cake (because helloooooo cookie cake! - it's my favorite) but I definitely ended up regretting that - not because the holiday mile diminished my love of cookie cake in any way (that's impossible) - but because I think the slices were bigger than regular cookies. My slowest part of the holiday mile was definitely eating the cookies! My total mile time was 13:40 but my actual time running the mile was 7:32 which is a really solid pace for me. Granted, I had an advantage since I've actually used milk and cookie cakes to fuel long runs in the past (#badliz), but apparently my speed eating skills are sorely lacking.

*Photos courtesy of Taylor Libby!

Jill won the Holiday Mile in the women's category. Congrats, Jill!

Cookie cake was a bad choice.

Before the Holiday Mile

After the holiday mile. "How do you feel?! Do you want some more sugar - fudge, brownies, maybe some more cookies?!" ::collective groan::

But somehow, something about the Holiday Mile broke me. On Wednesday morning I woke up and my Achilles tendon was so painful I could barely walk. That day I hobbled around flat-footed and unhappy the entire day and even missed a soccer game (gasp!). The thing about blowing out my Achilles tendon though is this holiday mile wasn't anything different than what I'd been running recently for the running streak. I'd been bringing Ryder on my one mile runs which means we sprint a quarter mile, stop for Ryder to poop (and clean up after him of course!), sprint another quarter mile, stop for Ryder to pee, sprint another quarter mile, stop for Ryder to sniff around and to pick up his poop bag, and then sprint the last quarter mile home (yeah, that's always the worst quarter mile with the poop bag in hand). So really the holiday run wasn't so different than any of my other mile runs recently in terms of muscle training, but for sometimes mysteries happen during training runs or races that you just can't account for.

It's amazing how you don't really appreciate a certain body part until you can't use it anymore.  The Achilles tendon attaches the back of the ankle to the calf muscle and without it you can't go up on your toes. If you can't go up on your toes then you can't push off the ball of your foot while walking or running, and if you can't push off the ball of your foot then something you do without even thinking (i.e. walking or running) suddenly becomes impossible. And it's that moment - that realization of the complexity in what you perceive to be a simple movement and the pain you feel when that simple movement is no longer possible - that makes you really appreciate how amazing our bodies are for being so functional most of the time.

Between the holidays and the Achilles pain I've taken off a whole week of running, but I'm itching to get back to it. I suppose one thing about this injury is it makes me grateful that I am usually injury-free, and reminds me to be mindful of my training plans for 2018.

Have you ever busted your Achilles tendon? Or been surprised by an injury and how strongly it affects you? Let me know in the comments!

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