'Round about August I intentionally dropped my mileage to no more than 4 miles / day, and focused on trying to rehab my ankle. With the help of Dr. Google I settled on a new protocol of 3x 75 toe drops on my weak ankle, and 2x 50 toe drops on my good ankle, every morning, with a 20 lb backpack. Then I added one set of 75 "flutters" on each leg (bouncing up and down on that foot). These sets were enough to leave my calves and ankles feeling like they were on fire, but what I found on the internet suggested that this was actually desirable.
It took months, but eventually this payed off. I noticed a lot less pain in my ankle during the day when getting up from a sitting position, and eventually no pain at all. Very slowly, with many bumps and reverses, I started raising mileage, and then even adding a little bit of quality back into my routine. I'm now back up to everything but hill repeats. I've kept the toe drops, and I don't have any time horizon for when I can stop that protocol, as they still feel pretty essential.
Anyway, new year, new hopes, new plans! I started off with the local New Years Day 5K. This race is very flat, with only a couple of mild rollers in the last mile. The conditions were also about perfect, with low wind and temps in the upper 30s. I have my 5K pr on this course, at 16:39, but that didn't fret me today. One good thing about coming back from injury, I guess--I felt most content to measure myself against my recent performance, or lack thereof.
There's a bit of prize money for this race, so it usually gets some hot-shots. It would have taken 16:19 to crack the top 3 (winner went through in 15:20). I ran a 5:20, 11:13 (goddamn it), and took it home in 17:31, almost exactly what I had predicted. If I had paced better, I could have imagined running ~17:15, but still a long ways from the sub-17 shape I was in in 2011.
Maybe we will have a mild winter this year, and I'll be able to keep doing track workouts. Hope springs eternal.
My next race is probably going to be the OFTM. I'm not feeling quite self-flagellating enough to do Derry this year.