Getting Out the Door is the Easy Part
|February 7, 2014||Posted by Lauren under Running|
“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.
If 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!!
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.
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?