The Time I (Almost) Quit Running for Good
|May 14, 2014||Posted by Lauren under Running|
There hasn’t been much talk about running here lately because, quite frankly, there hasn’t been much running. After (barely) training for that half marathon and then running it faster than I had any business going, it will surprise no one to learn that I needed a full 3 weeks to recover. Like I always say: stupid training leads to stupid results.
Okay, so I’ve never said that before in my life, but I think I’m going to adopt it as my new training mantra this year.
I don’t regret what I did, although in hindsight I probably should have put a little more emphasis on building up strength to compliment my “run less miles in a week than you will cover on race day” training plan. Running the half was incredibly humbling, but it was also a fun accomplishment that served as a much-needed confidence booster.
So while I wasn’t surprised that I needed so long to recover from that effort, what did surprise me was how easily I adjusted to not running. Maybe it’s the fact that I haven’t seriously trained for anything in over a year, or maybe it’s that I haven’t even really felt like a runner since I had to drastically cut back my mileage in late pregnancy. Or maybe I’m just used to taking long gaps of time off running by this point. But whatever the reason, those 3 weeks of not running passed by in a blur. I missed running in the way that you miss a good piece of chocolate – not something you need to have daily (or really, ever I suppose), just something that in the back of your mind you know could make you happy (oh you don’t also feel this way about chocolate….?). And I was only mildly annoyed that I couldn’t do it.
Like every year, I watched the Boston Marathon with excitement. And there was a small part of me that wished I was running, just to be a part of the experience. But for the most part I didn’t really give too much thought to the fact that I couldn’t run, or that I wasn’t really a part of that running community I (used to) love so much. I avoided reading running-related blogs and could only muster a tiny bit of excitement when it came to other people’s races.
It got to the point where I seriously started thinking it was time to move on. Maybe that part of my life was over. I’ve had a good run (har har), but I have different priorities now. Life is busier than ever, I’m slower and more out of shape than ever, and it’s a whole lot more complicated to fit in a run and actually train for a race. Maybe it was time to find a new interest. Or at the very least, give up my racing goals and just become a hobby jogger, running the occasional 2-4 miles to stay in some semblance of shape. We all know I’m not qualifying for the Olympics or going pro anytime soon (read: ever), so what’s the point? In fact, I even contemplated changing the blog name to HealthontheHobbyJog…but that didn’t have quite the same ring.
I think you all know where this is going…
Last Sunday, something happened. After a full 3 weeks of short walks, minimal strength training, and one miserable half hour on the elliptical, I finally decided to go on a test run. My hip/butt didn’t seem to hurt when I walked and the elliptical was a success, so I figured it was worth a shot. I tentatively laced up my shoes, grabbed my phone (since my Garmin was lying dead at the bottom of a pile of running gear), and headed out for a couple miles. Since I sort of expected the pain to flare up at any second, I was pleasantly surprised when I got through that first mile without feeling a thing. I kept running and was suddenly hit by the realization that I didn’t just have an absence of pain – I actually felt great. It was like I was never injured. The further I went the more the adrenaline kicked in until I literally felt like I was floating on air. It was one of those amazing runner’s high inducing runs where everything comes together and feels almost effortless.
For the entire 3.5 miles, the only thought in my head was: “I forgot how much I missed this!!”
And that’s when I knew. I may not be anywhere close to the level of runner I was before pregnancy. I may only be running a few days a week, a few miles at a time. And running as I know it may never be the same. But it really doesn’t matter. The sport has wormed its way so deep into my heart and my mind that I can’t imagine a life without it.
Running – I don’t know why I ever doubted. I just can’t quit you.
And do you want to know the craziest thing of all? I’m running faster now than I did before I took my three week hiatus. Granted, it’s still much slower than before, but I find that I’m actually able to maintain somewhere around an 8:00 pace without feeling like I want to die. I even had a run the other day where I pushed the pace just for fun, managing negative splits and paces in the last 2 miles that I usually only dream about. It was like running that half marathon was the reminder my body needed that it has other gears it can switch into. I have a long way to go before it remembers how to access all of them, but it’s a start.
So the moral of this rambling post? I still feel a little weird saying I’m a runner when I’m only running 3 – 5 miles at a time, a few times a week. But the itch is back. I’m trying really hard to avoid riding this excitement into another injury, so for now I’m coming back slowly. I ran 4 times from Sunday – Sunday and the goal is to get in a total of 4 runs again this week, with strength training on the off days. Maybe someday soon I’ll be back to consistently running 5-6 days per week, feeling like a serious runner again.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.