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Back At Square One

My return to the running world hasn’t been glamorous or easy…but you already knew that. What you may not know is that it goes beyond feeling like a stranger in my own body. For the past month or so, my running mileage has been less than impressive.

First, there was the long honeymoon. While you may have expected that someone who had spent the past 3 months dreaming about being able to run would be out there logging miles every single day the second she was able, that wasn’t the case for me. In fact, I found it much easier to stop stressing about when I would run again once I knew that I could if I really wanted.

But in my defense, if you’ve ever visited the islands of St. Maarten and St. John, you know they aren’t exactly a runner’s paradise. Narrow winding roads up steep mountains, lack of shoulders, crazy drivers, and hot and humid days all dampened my motivation to pound the pavement.

st maarten hillI ran up this hill (and many more before it) once. Despite an awesome view at the top, I never did it again.

Plus, I found that I much preferred spending lazy mornings with my new husband over getting up early and hitting the roads (imagine that!).

Not that it wasn’t an active vacation — it was just more of a walking/hiking, swimming/snorkeling type of trip…and not so much a running one.

saint maarten_beach hike

st maarten_forest hike

Now that I’m home, I find myself struggling a bit to get back into a routine. After all this time away from training, I truly am starting back at square one. I suppose this is only fitting given my current phase in life. These past few months have been full of change. On top of struggling through injury, I’ve lost my job, moved to a new state, and married my best friend. My whole world has basically been turned upside down. I’m learning how to make a new life for myself just as I’m learning how to run again. To say I feel unsettled is an understatement.

st maarten_3

Add to that the fact that I don’t really trust my body yet, and you have one very cautious runner. Don’t get me wrong — I love every run I get to take these days. I love exploring new roads and I love the awesome views that surround me everywhere I turn. Running in Vermont is much tougher than running in Providence, but it’s also more rewarding.

So it’s not that I dread running itself, it’s just that training is tough. I have the New York City Marathon coming up in November, and while I’m still very excited about the race, I am finding it hard to settle into an actual training plan. I find myself wanting to run just for the sake of running. I don’t want to stress about paces or distance or speed work. I have enough on my mind just trying to keep my form intact.

I suppose it doesn’t help that I’m also incredibly out of shape. My legs are heavy and my breathing becomes labored way too quickly. Whereas I used to be able to run for an hour or more without much difficulty, I now find myself being proud of a day’s effort after only 4 – 5 miles. Nothing wrong with that, right? …except if you’re training for a marathon, you need to be able to run just a tad bit further…

I am trying hard to accept this new place. To enjoy the process of learning how to run again, instead of stressing about what I’ve lost. I may not be the runner that I used to be, but who’s to say that someday I won’t come back even stronger? I’m also trying not to get caught up in comparison. I don’t know how some runners are out of commission one day and back doing double digit miles the next. I certainly have not been able to bounce right back. So if I’m missing out on some big training secret, please clue me in.

Anyway, I guess there’s really no point to this post. Except to say:

Running is hard (duh). Getting back into running after a long absence is even harder.

And for those of you who find yourself struggling to get back into shape, you’re not alone. There is no shame in starting off slowly and taking things one step at a time. It’s better to start off small and avoid injury than to jump right back in and cause bigger problems down the road. At least that’s what I’m telling myself…

After all this, there’s still a chance that I might give up on the whole running thing and retire to a Caribbean Island. There are worse ways to spend a lifetime.

st john_1

17 Responses to Back At Square One

  1. Thanks for the post. I’m coming back from a long hiatus from running and it’s hard.

    There’s nothing wrong with doing the NYC marathon for just fun. But I’m confident that you could work up to be a even better runner than before. Also, your honeymoon sounds like it was wonderful!

  2. you know, i can SO relate to this post. thanks for your honesty and i’m pulling for your complete recovery! enjoy this time to settle into married life and the rest will come.

    OH, and I LOVE your new twitter profile pic.
    Holly´s last post ..Wordless Wednesday (mostly)

  3. I will go to the Caribbean island with you. I don’t really have anything else to add, just that I think we’d make a good team down there. I’ll put sunscreen on your back when you need it. I’m a good friend that way.
    Ali´s last post ..Assembling The Team

  4. Katie @ msfitrunner

    If it makes you feel any better, like I commented in another post that I was in the same position you are and was wondering if I would ever get my speed, strength and endurance back – you will! I am probably 2 months ahead of your comeback, and probably about a month ago I started getting consistently higher mileage weeks (for me), I visibly noticed my legs getting and looking stronger and the double digit runs came with a bit more ease. Slow and steady, but staying consistent was the key for me, even if they were hard and slow. You will be back before you know it!
    Katie @ msfitrunner´s last post ..Tuesday’s Top Ten

  5. I agree with Katie’s comment above…you will get the speed back…just stay consistent and take things day by day (or mile by mile!) You are doing all of the right things, just be patient with yourself. I love your honeymoon pics!
    Chels R.´s last post ..We Run the Night.

  6. Not that it’s the same, but when I came back to running post-pregnancy, the first two months of running were brutal. Then one day, running felt effortless again and I was suddenly faster. I have no idea why or how that happened, but I was delighted that it did. Luckily, the NYC marathon is more than 2 months away. So if there’s any science to my experience, you’ll be good to go! :)
    Jen´s last post ..Making it work as a work-at-home mom

  7. Wow! This post just about sums up exactly how I’ve been feeling lately! I am also coming back from injury (a stress fracture), have also recently moved to a place harder to run (from NYC to SLC, I miss sea level!!!), and am also having a hard time getting myself to start training for the NYC marathon. Gah! Can we talk about the stress I feel every time I get one of those “You’re in for the run of your life” emails?! Glad to know that I’m not the only one out there struggling. We can do it right?!

  8. When I came back from injury last year, I felt exactly the same way. A slow 3 miles was a victory. My legs came back before my lungs, which felt embarrassing, to be honest. It took about 2 mths (I was out for 2mths) to come back, but it did, and I continued to get stronger than I was. Take your time, but push a little – you know?
    fionarwbl´s last post ..Brooks PureCadence Review

  9. It’s definitely hard, but your body will get there again.

    I don’t know if I ever mentioned that I went to college in Vermont (UVM).
    Lee´s last post ..Not Wasting Food

  10. slow and steady wins the race with this one. you are doing the right thing! jumping back in at full speed will get you nowhere..even further behind square one!
    kristy´s last post ..The best laid plans…

  11. Sounds like you had the best honeymoon! As much as I love running I don’t think I ran one day of my honeymoon. Never feel bad for taking a much needed break to enjoy such a special time in your life. I’m sure you will come back stronger and wiser. Injuries tend to do that to us. I am training for NYC too and am following a bit of a modified schedule these first few weeks trying to ease into my mileage. (I am getting over patellar tendonitis in my knee which has been around since my last marathon in March.) Having a goal race and goal time are always great motivators.

    I will admit that it is a bit humbling to work so hard at runs that used to be feel so easy. Getting back in shape is HARD but I keep telling myself that pretty soon it will click and I will be back in the groove. Hopefully that will happen sooner than later!
    Tia @ Arkansas Runner Mom´s last post ..A HARD day and a HARD workout

  12. Have you been doing much lifting? Are you concerned with getting back some strength in your legs while you acclimate to running again?

  13. Hang in there, we are rooting for you!
    One consideration is to slowly build the miles and insert cross training in the off days.

  14. Your honeymoon looks/sounds amazing!

    I totally feel you on getting back into running…I’m still in a rest phase waiting for my back to shape up (ugh…), and I’m scared of what it’ll be like to get back into running. An hour of running used to feel like an absolute walk in the park, but sometimes twenty minute runs made my legs feel like lead when I could run again.

    NYC is getting close, I’m getting nervous…
    Susan´s last post ..i can’t run, but my parents were in town, which was fun!

  15. Coming back from injury really makes me appreciate how hard running really is…and when you are running NYC, you will savor it that much more. Hang in there, your body know what to do, you’ll be upping your miles in no time.

  16. Hey! Just read this post after tweeting with you this AM – I can COMPLETELY relate. I am also registered for NYC – yikes. Best of luck to you – I’ll be following your progress!

  17. Hey NobeGreat article im glad your podviring winnings for everyone. im now following you on tweet, i have 2 main loves in my live electronics and Sony cam.Keep up the good work

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