As I walked down the stairs and into the cool night in my shorts and long sleeved shirt with my money clip and cell phone and keys in my hands, I realized it was the end of a chapter. Every week since September I visited Matt and his staff to fix this issue that bothered me longer than I knew; an issue caused first by injury (sprained ankles) and reinforced by strength imbalances (my right leg is much weaker than my left, especially with hips and glutes). Matt fixed the injury, and now I need to fix the imbalances. I can now focus on things other than spending a couple hours doing work on my right leg in physical therapy every few days. With all the attention on my right leg, I envisioned the possibility that my right leg would get to be so much stronger over time that I'd start running in circles.
The primary focus over the next couple months will be to work on form and to address the strength imbalances I have while I slowly build my base running under 130bpm. Clayton put me through a lower body circuit yesterday that hit the calves and for the first time since taking the anti-inflammatories I don't have tightness in my Achilles. I tested it even more by running 5K last night. While my muscles are tightening a bit (including the calves), the Achilles felt great and I ran strongly. I did have a wake up call on my fitness level. My 10:00/mile pace jacked my heart rate up to 170bpm. If you push yourself to the brink of a heart attack, you should have an awesome story about it. Right now, it's just pathetic. But for now, I'm happy with the progress.
The best sign of that improvement...when I rolled out of bed this morning I didn't have to do the "Little Old Man Shuffle" while it warmed up for a few steps. My run this morning may look like that, but my first few steps out of bed didn't, and that's a big deal. One. Step. At. A. Time.