Saturday, June 15, 2024

The Long Road Back

There's something about a comeback story that I've always appreciated. You know the ones where the protagonist has to oversome some major life altering disaster only to come out better for having overcome those challenges? I always thought that's what retuning to running would be like for me. One day I would wake up, feel insipred and motivated, and head out for a run that would be comfortable and rewarding and remind me why I loved running so much in the past.

It has not been like that.

I have been "returning to running" for the past two years. Every time I feel like I've made some headway, life has thrown a few curve balls. Last year's curveball was major surgery and this year's curve ball was another surgery (though thankfully not major). In between has been filled with my on-again-off-again relationship with running, fueled by countless excuses...

"It's too rainy" (true)

"It's too hot" (definitely true)

"If I sleep longer I'll be less grumpy at work" (maybe a little true?)

"I'll run after work" (definitely not true)

What is it about the return to running that makes it so hard? All my running friends have said the same thing about their return to running after a break, so I know I'm not the only one who has struggled with this. There definitely is no magic formula other than intrinsic self motivation. But when motivation is low getting outside and hitting the pavement (or road or trail) feels really really hard.

I've signed up for a race to provide some extrinsic motivation and I'm using the reliable run:walk method that helped kick start my running journey back in 2013. The next step is to stick with it. Stick with the three training runs each week. Stick with the two days of cross training. Stick with the essential rest days. Make sure every day doesn't become a rest day etc. 

I've also let go of pace goals (for now). Choosing instead (forcing myself if I'm being honest) to focus on the distance I'm completing. I know I may never get back to the fitness level I had during the height of my running days but I hope I get to a place where I can say I am fitter, healthier, and happier with my running than I am right now. And if these incremental improvements remain the focus then I will always have a worthwhile goal. At least for the next 18 weeks until race day.