A Year of Return to Running Logs

Several months ago, I promised that I would share my return to running logs for those interested, not thinking that anyone would actually want to see them. Heh. Apparently, some folks were interested.

Extremely belated, but here they are (embedded below, or you can follow this link): Amelia’s Return to Running Log

Before you take a look, an important personal note:

I struggled mightily with whether to keep in the “injury notes” comments. I use this column with my coach to communicate any issues, etc., and I’ve made a point to OVERreport any niggle, in case we need to stop and readjust. Reading back through, I realize how absolutely scared I was to run. From a third person reading in isolation, you may think “holy shit this girl is a hypochondriac.”

And that’s fine if you do. Ultimately, I decided to keep the comments in there to keep it real – to show the mental anguish of coming back from injury. Coming off a year of not being able to run, EVERY ache and pain struck the fear of God into me. Reading back through the comments now is pretty hard – I can see HOW scared I was. I was paralyzed by the fear of reinjury, and had absolutely zero trust of my body. I spent most of this past year simultaneously being grateful to be able to run and being scared spitless that it was all going to be taken from me again in an instant. The mental block of being constantly broken was haunting. So I left the notes in there to show this dark side, to show that what we see through the highlight reel of other’s social media isn’t what is going on in our head.

I write this all to say that if you are coming back from injury and feeling all the feels, you aren’t alone. Freakouts are normal. But learning to rebuild that trust is critical. It’s only been recently (a year out), that I’m beginning to feel “normal” again.

You’ll notice in the logs that I had several various freak outs about different injury scares – (foot, tibia, femur, etc – you name a body part). Each one of these required 5-10 days off from running. But you’ll notice that early time off made it so these never progressed into anything worse. So my return to running was ANYTHING but smooth. It was also for this reason that I decided to include an entire year of the log – while the initial “return to running  ” ramp up only lasts a few months, that doesn’t mean the battle ends.

A few procedural notes:

  • For the first few weeks, all runs were done at no faster than a 10min/pace. As Coach David Roche said, “we are not running, we are getting the bones, tendons and muscles used to pounding.”
  • I started with 10-15 minutes of barefoot walking a day – some on grass, some on an incline treadmill
  • Pretty much all my running was done on dirt – I rarely hit asphalt.
  • For the first few weeks, I stuck on a dirt track where I made a lot of loops – makes it easier to abort and not be an idiot if need be.
  • A few weeks after return to running, I was knocked over by two dogs while running and ended up with a tibial plateau bone bruise and torn lateral meniscus, which required 3-4 weeks off from running. So I pretty much started over (again!) from ground zero in February. (hence the large chunk of XT (cross-training))
  • Coach uses minutes, not miles (except for long runs), and we made that switch partway through the year. I didn’t request it, but it works well for me so I don’t fixate on mileage
  • Log doesn’t include my strength work, which is generally 2-3x week and includes squats, deadlifts, lunges and other single leg exercises in addition to upper body and grip work for obstacle racing.
  • I only included until end of November this past year because…I’m lazy and you get the gist. Since November 2017, I’ve been hitting 60-70 mpw, with one big week at 90 before taper.
  • First tab of the log is the day to day, and I added a second tab which shows you weekly mileage totals
  • Yes, it would be much easier if I just posted you all to Strava to see this. I understand the log is probably not the most user-friendly to read. But to ward off the “why are you not on Strava” questions – I know myself well enough to know, at this point, I too easily fall into the comparison trap (which led my down the past to a broken femur in the first place). I don’t care about people seeing my stuff (I’d actually love to share!), but I’d need to prevent myself from looking at other folks..like the only drunk goggles on gmail to prevent drunk emailing (oh…college)

Some  stats:

  • Highest mileage week (through November 2017) was 65 miles, but the bulk has sat around 35-50 (after the gradual ramp-up). Since the end of the log, I’ve been at 65-70mpw consistently with one week at 90.
  • I didn’t hit a 20 miler until December 23rd, 2017, over a year since I started running   again (which may surprise some folks). Up until December, longest run was the Spartan Race Word Championships in Tahoe. We’ve focused on getting consistent lower mileage 5-6x week versus long “epic” runs (which is ALL I used to do pre-case of femurs)
  • For those interested in my pace, “easy” in logs means MAF, which is around 148bpm for me. It’s difficult to correlate that to pace since I rarely run purely flat and most of my runs have a fair amount of vert. Hence, using HR as a guide.

Every runner’s journey back is going to be different, and I imagine there are a lot of you out there being like “wow she’s still so low mileage!” or “she took it WAY too conservatively.” Sure, perhaps. I know plenty of other runners who have ramped up much faster and been just fine. For me, getting over the mental block of rein jury and the fear of high mileage probably made me more conservative than we needed to be. But I also was off from running    for almost a year, and, therefore, we had to treat me like a brand new runner. If you have a shorter layoff (3-4 months), you may be able to return to mileage much quicker (general rule of thumb is that if you are off of running  for over 9months, maybe even 6 months, you are pretty much starting over from ground zero. Sucks, I know).

Feel free to reach out with any questions you may have – as always, I’m not a doctor nor do I pretend to play one, and I can only speak to my unique experience. Every runner, and every injury is going to be different.



15 thoughts on “A Year of Return to Running Logs”

  1. Hey Amelia,

    This is awesome, thanks for sharing. I enjoy nerding out on this kind of stuff, so I think I’m going to start doing something similar for my own info.
    On another note, there’s always the option of automatically syncing to Strava (not sure which app/device you use to track your workouts/runs, but alot of them have this option), “forget” you did it and never log in. (Not saying I’d actually be able to do it) Or better yet, setup the sync, give a close friend your password and tell them to change it so you can’t keep an eye on it. Just a thought.

    Thanks again for sharing!

  2. Thanks for posting and I appreciate that you kept the injury notes. After over a year of fearing that every phantom sensation in my knee is the PFPS/ITBS rearing its ugly head again, its nice to sympathize with another runner’s freakouts. An over-analytical attorney personality trait, perhaps? Also, no better advice than “BURGERS” and “FUCK YOU INTERNET COMMENTATORS.”

  3. I’m laughing out loud at some of your “injury notes”. Highly entertaining. And honestly I’m already kicking and screaming at the “one full rest day every week” part. Generally the toughest part of ANY plan. Thanks for sharing. Crush it this weekend.

  4. Thank you for sharing this! I suffered from two sacral stress fractures in late summer and am just returning to running now. It’s been so difficult to find other people who have gone through a similar injury/what they did to overcome it. I’m glad to see that your initial return to running sounds a lot like mine (tight glute/piriformis) – it makes me feel more “normal”!

  5. Wow, thank you so much for sharing this. I have been injured for a few months (first a hip injury then a freak “house accident” breaking a few toes) and I keep a journal much like this and it’s so true…when you have been broken for so long (I spent 2016 healing a peroneal tendon injury) you really don’t trust your body, you question everything and over react. I totally get it. I appreciate your honesty and you truly inspire me to keep going because there will be an end in sight and progress is never linear and it’s often not super joyful.

  6. Hi Amelia, big shout out from Shropshire in the UK.
    Thank you so much for sharing your journey back from injury.

    I find your blog posts so insightful and inspiring. More importantly your posts are so bloody honest!

  7. Hi Amelia! All the way from New Zealand!

    I’ve started reading ‘Tool of Titans’ and the first page I read was your story.
    I’ve only just come out of surgery 3 days ago- (buckethandle tear on my left knee, surgeon had to remove a bit of my meniscus).
    I’m so incredibly thankful I came across you! I’ve been scrolling through your blog posts and omg they are helping me so so much!!! You’ve been through heaps but man you come back stronger than ever and never give up!
    My injury happened in October 2017, and surgery was just the other day, so I was dealing with this knee injury for 4 months, which then put a lot of pressure and strain on my left bum/hip! Awful pain and I hope this surgery will slowly heal the align of my left side!

    All I hope is that I come out of this recovery stronger and can complete a half marathon hopefully by the end of this year(well that’s my goal anyway!).

    Any tips/tricks/exercises or advice you’d give?

    I couldn’t be more happier to have come across you from Tool of Titans! I feel as though it’s a sign knowing I will eventually get there.
    Hope to hear back from you! I look forward to reading every single blog post on your website!!
    Thank you for sharing and opening up so much.

  8. Hi Ms. Boone Coone,

    Very gracious of you to share your travelog. Would you say, in terms of minutes and intensity of work per week, that you were by November 2017 where or close to where you’d ideally want to be at that point in the season (i.e. as if you weren’t injured ~1yr before)?


  9. Hello Amelia, thank you for your excellent blog and for posting so much information. It really is very helpful. I am (fingers crossed) just about to begin my own come-back to running after a broken foot. I noticed that at one point you mention running in minimal shoes on the track. My assumption had been to initially only use supportive, well cushioned shoes, instead of the lighter shoes I was running in. Is this something you thought about for your own return to running?

  10. Thank you for sharing this. Your thoughts on losing faith in your body and fearing re-injury really resonate with me. I haven’t been running long (just started January this year), but I got addicted fast, and though I only have a sprained ankle to contend with, I’m unable to finish the year with my goal half marathon, so I’ve been pretty bummed. Someone pointed me to this article from Facebook, and reading what you went through is cathartic in a strange way. You found your way back to running after a terrible injury, and shared a blue print on how you did it safely. I don’t have a coach, I don’t have a long history of running, but thanks to you I have some guidelines and inspiration.

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