Baby steps…they can be a painfully slow process, but they are positive nonetheless. Fortunately, I have taken many this year. In March, I was allowed (per my dynamics coach, Janet Smith-Leet) to run 15 seconds at a time with 1:45 rest…10 times. Since then, I’ve slowly increased the duration and decreased the rest. I slowly grew to a whopping 1:15 on and: 45 rest, 14 times, then about 6 min on, 3 off, and then a straight run of 17 minutes!!! I did that a handful of times without any pain so now I’m up to 6:42 on/2:18 rest!!! Woohoo!!! (With two years out of running, this feels like a really long time)! The initial durations sound silly, I know, but I’m thankful for them, as I’ve had to take some steps back as well. Since March, I’ve had a few sporadic flare-ups in my back, which deterred me from running for several days at a time. So in my eyes, Janet was very smart in her approach to getting me back on my feet. Keep in mind; I worked with her doing various exercise for several months before I was even allowed to run, so it’s been an incredibly long road. Most recover from surgeries much more quickly. I am grateful and thankful to have Janet in my corner. She is patient, kind, funny, and incredibly supportive. She knows how to be a proactive coach rather than a reactive one, which is very unique in this day and age. So many coaches encourage and praise those who push through pain rather than having athletes take time off, let them completely heal, and come back stronger. You see it at every age, even with those who do take time off. They dive right back in and within a short time, are injured again and don’t understand why. Typically they didn’t allow ample time to fully heal (there is a big difference between feeling good and being fully healed), they ramped up the training to quickly, and/or they didn’t fix the mechanical issue, which was the impetus of the injury. The road back from an injury can be a difficult one, but if done correctly, the longevity in sport will be much greater. For me, although I would give so much to compete again, my goal is simply to be healthy and enjoy doing the things which my body allows sans pain. If that means working out here and there without a goal, so be it. If I ever can race again in triathlons, it’ll just be icing on the cake.