I can hardly remember my life before running. I feel like being a “Runner” is a big part of my identity now. In reality, I just started running about 8 years ago. I never ran in H.S. or College and was a total gym rat for most of my adulthood. About 8 years ago I saw an article in Shape Magazine titled, “you can do a triathlon in 12 weeks”. Really? Ok sure why not. I didn’t have a bike, hadn’t done laps in years and had never run but ok if you say so Shape Magazine. I excitedly ran into the gym the next morning, magazine in hand, and proudly told my trainer this was my goal. Let the training begin.
We met at the track that week, I can vividly remember how unbelievably hard it was to run. I barely made it once around the track and I was out of breath with side cramps. How did I not know running was hard? That was early May and the temps were warming up. I was determined to get to that tri race. I slowly made my way up to 1 mile without stopping then one day I was running 3 miles. I remember how amazing that felt and how proud of myself I was. I just had run the distance of the tri race. I followed that 12 week plan and, thank you Shape Magazine, I did the Iron Girl Triathlon that August. I remember feeling that if I could that I could anything. I was unstoppable.
I quickly discovered I really liked running. You know how it goes, I thought, “if I can run 3 miles then I can run 5 miles”. And if I can run 5 miles….
Over the last 8 years, I gradually increased my paces and distances and participated in numerous 10k’s, 10 milers and half marathon races. Each year, I tried to challenge myself to do more. I was never a particularly fast runner, but I could run and I loved it. The past few years, I’ve kept my running fitness up and was pretty comfortable doing long runs on the weekend and a few shorter runs during the week. I kept myself where I could train for a half a few weeks out. I, like all of you, had good days and bad but I was comfortable with my runs. Until…
At the end of January, I was dumb and won’t bore you with the details, but I ignored nagging shin splints and ended up with a stress fracture. I was told no running for 8 weeks! What are you kidding me? I “run” a running group!
I followed Dr.’s orders and 8 weeks later began slowly running again. I was told to start running 1/2 a mile and add on each week.
Wow! When did running get so hard?! I was in the best shape of my life when I got hurt. I didn’t just sit around for 8 weeks. I was doing spin classes, kickboxing, yoga anything to keep my fitness up. Which brings me back to-when did running get so hard??
I am beyond thrilled to be running again but I’m finding it so hard. I was under the impression that I would be able to just jump right back in and pick up where I left off. Yea-not really happening.
We have lots of newer runners in our group and I’ve always tried to make them feel welcome. I would run back to them and hang for a little while, encouraging them and keeping them company. I was a great cheerleader. I would tell them to stick with it and they would see progress quickly. Running is hard I would tell them. I had forgotten how it feels to be that person in the back of the pack. That person wondering what they were doing here and why this was so hard.
Last weekend on our group run I was aiming for 5 miles, my longest post injury run. I started pretty well hanging with 2 friends around the same pace. Once we hit mile 3, I was dying. I was having trouble regulating my breathing and this was getting hard. I had to stop and walk a few times and take some water breaks. I quickly dropped back from friends and encouraged them to go on. As I was approaching the 4.5 mile range, I saw my friend and co-chapter leader, Alexandra, running back for me. She came back to encourage me and help me get through the run and remind me that running is hard. Boy was I glad to see her! That was probably one of the most humbling running experiences I’ve ever had. I really truly forgot how that felt. I forgot how it felt to struggle for my breath. I forgot how it felt to wonder if I would make it to the end of my run. I forgot how it felt to be the one in the back of the pack. I forgot how it felt to have such little confidence in my running ability.
I’m determined to get back to where I was and I know that I will. I’m going to have to work for it and it will be all the more better when I finally get there.
What do you do when running feels hard?
Have you made a running comeback?