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Getting Out the Door is the Easy Part

“The first step is the hardest.”

“The hardest part is getting out the door.”

It’s confession time on this freezing Friday morning: I secretly hate those sayings. Well, I suppose it’s not a secret anymore. But in my opinion that silly idiom is right up there with “you never regret a run/workout!” (umm…I can assure you that I have).

Now before you write me off as a big old grump, let me just say that I understand the meaning behind the phrase. I know it can be really hard to work up the motivation to start when you’re out of shape, or leave the warmth of your house for that long run/tempo workout/hill repeats when you’d much rather stay in bed. But not only does that phrase sort of devalue the hard work many runners put into their training, it’s simply not true. When you’re getting back into shape, especially after a long time off, getting out the door is the easy part. Sticking with it — after the high of that first run wears off and you’re stuck with the realization of how much work you have ahead of you — that’s the hard part. That’s the part that makes it easy to just say screw it. I’d rather just stick to my couch.

Since being cleared for exercise last Friday evening, I’ve run three times (as excited as I am to be running again, I’m really easing back into it in order to avoid injury). And each run has gotten progressively harder.

This is going to sound totally contrived, but I swear to you — my first run back was magical. Last Saturday, after 10 weeks of absolutely no running (my longest break in recent memory), I bundled up against the cold and sprinted out the door. And while the video Evan took (without my knowledge) of me starting out shows an out-of-shape woman tentatively making her way down the street at a pace that barely resembled running, in my head I was flying. Light as a feather. All those things that I had worried about for so long — that my incision would hurt, that my insides would feel like they were falling out, that my legs would’ve somehow forgotten what to do — turned out to be unfounded. Everything fell into place and I was unstoppable.

Until I hit the mile mark, anyway. And my lungs suddenly realized that they weren’t participating in the most fun activity ever. But you know, still…I was running. Pandora was killing it with the music that morning and I was in a cloud of all the emotions – excitement that my legs still worked, joy in being able to move quickly again, and some unexpected sadness about this being my first run without Amelia in almost a year. I had imagined that run so many times in my head. Despite the cold, my heaving lungs, and the fact that a 9:00 pace practically felt like sprinting, the run was everything I thought it would be. I finished on top of the world.

First post-baby runIf you don’t take a picture of your Garmin after your run, did it really happen?

I spent the next day skiing and it was the same — a little weirdness in getting used to my new body but so much happiness to just be out there. I was back, baby!!

IMG 5358

And then I tried running again. And it turns out I’m actually going to have to work hard to get back into shape. Who would’ve thought?

My legs have surprisingly been okay. My stride is different and I know it will take awhile for everything to function seamlessly again, but all that extra load bearing during pregnancy seems to have served them well. My lungs, on the other hand, are struggling. A lack of aerobic activity + cold air isn’t exactly the best combination. I spent my last 2 runs battling major side stitches. Yesterday I had cramps on both sides the second I started running. I almost bailed on my 3 mile run they were so bad. Let me tell you — nothing makes you feel quite so out of shape as major cramps on what should be a short, easy run. As I slipped around on the snow that afternoon, I thought about how easy it would be to just give up. And how humbling this challenge to keep moving forward will be, knowing that running doesn’t feel the way it used to…and won’t for awhile.

IMG 2417

The only thing that keeps me going at this point is knowing what it’s like on the other side. I’ve been out of shape before. Maybe not this badly, but I have experience working my way back from scratch. I know it’s going to suck for awhile. That it might take months of slogging through easy runs that feel difficult. But one day, suddenly, everything is bound to click. My stride will feel natural, my lungs will get on board, and running will be fun again.

Right now, it’s just work. Harder than it should be, different than I remembered. I have a new understanding and appreciation for why many people don’t stick with running for very long. Why new runners look at you like you’re crazy when you talk about how fun running can be. Or describe the joy of an “effortless” 10 mile run. It doesn’t seem possible. Even now, having experienced all those things, I have a hard time imagining ever feeling that way on a run again.

But I just need to be patient. And you know…I suppose it’s only fair to say that my life as a runner has made me a little crazy. Because even as I struggle through my runs now, I finish each one filled with hope. And the more I think about running, the more excited I become to get out the door and try again. Yeah, my hopes are dashed a little bit when I actually start moving and realize just how hard it’s going to be, but it’s not enough to erase the delusion completely. The delusion that I’m going to go out there and suddenly feel the way I used to is what keeps me going

Anyway, I probably could’ve summed up this rambling post in three sentences: I’m running again (yay!). It kind of sucks because I’m really out of shape (boo). But I expected that, so for now I just have to keep dragging myself out the door day after day, hoping that it’ll eventually get better.

And if it doesn’t, well, at least I’m able to run. For now that fact alone is enough.

Okay so that was five sentences. Can I just keep blaming the sleep deprivation for everything?

27 Responses to Getting Out the Door is the Easy Part

  1. Haha, yes on that “you never regret a workout” saying -um, yeah, there are definitely some regrettable runs.
    Krissy @ Shiawase Life´s last post ..Krissy and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Run.

  2. Not to COMPLETELY miss the point of your post, but: what pandora station do you listen to when you run?
    LizScott´s last post ..Re-entry

  3. This was my experience too. Even though E was my 3rd baby, he was my first “running baby.” The first run was AMAZING. I felt like I could walking on freaking water! And then it kind of sucked. My hip flexors hurt started hurting (strength exercises has helped me immensely). I had a hard time seeing my pace on my Garmin, so I stopped wearing it. I stopped logging my miles because the runs were just crappy and I didn’t want to remember them. Slowly but surely it started getting better. There was no real breakthrough and my body didn’t just “bounce back” (I HATE that phrase). It’s taken a lot of work. And patience. I still can’t over do it. But, I’m here now – the place you I I realize that I really do love running. It’s not a fluke! Hopefully you’ll get “here” again soon :)
    Michelle´s last post ..Current Running Essentials

  4. Ug, getting back in shape takes patience. There’s always the annoying “Patiences is a virute” saying, but I find that it’s my least favorite virtue. You can do it! I’m rooting for you!
    EB @ Running on E´s last post ..February Goals

  5. My favorite part of this post is that you managed an awesome depth-of-field example in that photo capturing your garmin AND your shoes! Well done, good blogger :)

    Be sure to strengthen core and hips! Stay HEALTHY!!!!! Go, lil mama!

  6. I am judging you! (not really)
    LizScott´s last post ..Re-entry

  7. Okay, I’ll come visit right now because I will actually be able to keep up with you! ;)

    Glad you are running again!! Be patient and it will pay off. And you’re right, there will be a moment where things click and you’ll feel like you’re back to your old self.
    Steph´s last post ..5 Things Friday: More About Me

  8. I hear what your saying. But, I also thought the first step out the door into the 30 degree air last night was the hardest; the 4 mile working (including 3 miles or hill repeats) wasn’t so bad once I was used to the cold.
    And don’t forget – fitness is all relative. I know the gasping for air, developing your lung fitness feels difficult, but I can’t run 9 min miles and I’m IN shape! (I’m working on the speedwork and hoping to start averaging less than 10 min miles any week now.) Way to go!
    Jessica @ RunYourMuttOff´s last post ..Do you have a “No Cheetahs” bag like me?

  9. I know how this feels to an extent. I’ve been coming back from an injury and I really felt like I was having to start over. It takes patience and baby steps but you will get there!

  10. It will click! I promise.

    My first postpartum run was so magical that I cried tears of joy. And then I cried on several more runs for the next few weeks but because I was so out of shape. I remember the day I thought I could run 5 miles for the first time. I foolishly did an out-and-back and had to walk the entire second half home. I felt so defeated so many times. But I also remember another magical run, about 2 months after I’d been running again regularly. Everything did click and postpartum running became this amazing thing from then on. I hope you have a similar experience!

  11. Great job Momma! I cant even imagine what you are feeling coming back from giving birth. Kind of scares me a little bit because I know I am like 3 months away from it. This week my running has started to get uncomfortable for the first time so I kind of understand about runs being hard. Hopefully we can get a little let up on the weather, I am sure that will help a bit. Plus I am pretty sure you live in the hilliest place on earth so yeah there’s that. I have been avoiding most hills since week 16.

  12. enjoy the journey back! seriously…as cheesy as that sounds…you will laugh someday at those first runs back and marvel at how far you have come.

    i figure i might as well enjoy the next month or two of unstructured running before the serious training begins. how long can you use the excuse “i’m x weeks postpartum”?!?! i plan on milking it for awhile ;)
    kristy´s last post ..Big Plans

  13. I am in the same boat. I signed up for a marathon when I was pregnant and the marathon is in two weeks. Let’s just say I won’t be running because I cannot effortlessly run 10 miles right now. I had no idea what being a mother is like…not only getting medically cleared to exercise but sleepless nights and such all impact my running. Can’t wait to hear about your journey to the other side : )
    Jenn@Mark My Miles!´s last post ..I confess, I’ve committed Netflix Adultery…

  14. Congratulations! You’re doing great. Does Koli ever join you? Sometimes I really wish I had a running dog ;-)
    kristin miller´s last post ..Pregnant Runner Thoughts II

    • No :( He’s horrible to run with. Loves to sprint right from the start and then has no endurance. I suppose I could’ve worked harder to train him to run with me,…sometimes I wish I had a running dog too. But instead we just stick to our long walks.

  15. I just wanted to tell you how refreshing it is to read something different than the “yay look at me 4 weeks post partum already at my pre pregnancy weight, running a half marathon and it was SO EASY!” posts. It IS hard work and your honesty about it makes those of us that also found it to be a challenging road back feel as though maybe WE are the norm :)

    Keep on truckin, you’ll get there :)

    • Ha, right! I don’t get those posts. Maybe those women are superwomen or are just better at working out/eating right than I am, but I can’t relate. It’s going to be a long time before I can say I’m back at my pre-pregnancy weight (or even looking like my pre-pregnancy self). I figure it took 9 months to put the weight on, I can’t expect it to all melt away in a couple weeks.

  16. Lol… It took me four YEARS to start running again after my Amelia was born. I think you’re amazing for getting out there this soon. Keep up the good work! :)
    Catwoman73´s last post ..Weekly Fitness Report- Week Two

  17. You’re getting back out there, that’s what counts! I love that Evan took a video of your first run, that’s a keeper :)
    Beth @ RUNNING around my kitchen´s last post ..BOB Ironman Duallie Review & stroller running in general

  18. Hello! I recently came across your blog and have been enjoying it. 9 minute pace for your first postpartum run? AMAZING. I’m just getting back into marathon shape after my second (born in October) and understand what a challenge it can be. After both of my kids (the first was a c-section like yours too), the first 6 weeks back at running were a huge struggle. It was so discouraging to look at my garmin and think about how what felt like a monumental effort was like 3 minutes/mile slower than it used to be. But I stuck with it and after those first 6 weeks, I started to enjoy it again. I’m not saying I was fast after 6 weeks, but I got back to where I felt good running (I think it’s a fantastic release for a new mom). Then I did start to get fast. Less than 6 months after my first, I ran a 12 minute marathon PR. Hang in there, be kind to yourself, and I bet you’ll be surprised at how quickly things turn around for you.

    On another note, I loved your birth story. It made me cry. Thanks so much for sharing.

    • That’s amazing! Congratulations! And it’s encouraging to hear stories from other women who eventually started feeling like themselves on the run again. I’m just trying to be patient…I know it’ll take work, but hopefully it gets better eventually. And there’s some fun in watching the improvement, right? :)

  19. I’ve been meaning to comment on your postpartum posts for awhile but every time I finish reading I end up getting distracted by my own little one. Anyway, congrats on that first mile back! It feels fantastic right? I had a really hard time staying motivated the first few months back. In the past few weeks I’ve started to feel somewhat normal again, but I still have plenty of crappy, slow, blah days. The motivation comes with getting in better shape, I think. I wish you the best and I think you’re off to a great start!
    Mollie´s last post ..Sixty miles.

  20. ahh. i’m so late in my reading. Yes…running again from scratch sucks. My first one post-surgery was like yours-amazing. And then the rest felt like work. it’s all started to click again and doesn’t feel as hard (miserable) as it did a few months ago.
    elizabeth´s last post ..King Cake Taste Testers Extraordinaire

  21. It’ll come back fast as you probably have already seen since this is 6 days from you’re post. I found that after a week it was coming back. The crazy annoying thing for me is that I’m up to like 35 mpw and BF yet the lbs are not falling off. I’m not eating like a crazy person so I think that nursing or hormones are keeping the extra weight on. It’s only like 8 lbs but it’s still annoying. It’s gonna be a while before I touch a 26.2 again. Maybe this fall. Maybe.
    Chacha´s last post ..Instead of paying attention to the Super Bowl, I figured I’d write about the Tiny Human.

    • Yeah, I’ve heard that it’s hard to lose those last few pounds until you stop BFing (so lame, right??). I don’t really seem to be losing weight anymore either. Just trying to be patient and tell myself it’s more about getting back into shape. We’ll see if I can keep that perspective when the weather starts getting warmer and I’m not hidden under layers of clothing… ;)

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