Making a come back is hard

Running back to back marathon training seasons in fall 2013 and spring 2014 took a toll on me. I don’t regret that it did because both of those races are memories I wouldn’t give up. Since running the Nike Women’s Half Marathon in April on a whim, the longest I have run is 6 miles. And most runs I’ve called it a day at 3 or 4.

I’m certain all of that is a good thing. I’ve repaired damage and regained strength in my right IT Band, piriformis, and hips after pushing them a bit too hard. I’ve done a lot of strength training and discovered I like spin classes (even though I hate bikes… who knew). I’ve also lived my life, enjoyed my summer, drank a lot of delicious IPAs, and ate a lot.

Taking off-seasons from running or any kind of intense fitness training is correct (even the professionals do it). It’s healthy.

But that doesn’t change the fact that making a comeback is hard.

Over the past several weeks I have been easing back into regular training – running four days a week, a weekend long run, etc. I have loved running regularly again and having a plan and some races to work towards. What I haven’t loved is how hard running feels… at least compared to how it felt 6 months ago.

6 months ago, I could do this…

Run

Now, it seems like a mid-week three mile run can totally wear me down. My legs feel heavy and my breathing feels less controlled. The whole process of running is not nearly as effortless as it was months ago.

Dog Meme

It’s been hard not to be disappointed when I see my paces or when I have to stop and walk mid-run. But I am trying to keep these positive thoughts in the front of my brain:

1. Trust the process. I can’t stay in peak marathon shape all the months of the year for as long as I continue running. If I did that, I wouldn’t be running very long because I would burn out or end up injured. There are cycles to training and therefore there are inevitably going to be points in the cycle where I need to go through the struggle to rebuild fitness.

2. Just because I’m not running my best now, doesn’t mean I will never run my best again. I was hitting PR’s less than six months ago. There’s no reason I can’t get back to that level, and even surpass it.

3. The heat has an added impact on my abilities. As long as temperatures and humidity are high, paces may be slower and running may be more difficult. But that’s normal.

4. The only pressure on me to perform as a runner is the pressure that I put on myself. I’m always going to have goals that I want to achieve in running but, when all is said and done, I am never going to be disappointed with my outcomes in the sport if I can tell myself that I gave it my best effort.

5. Whenever I’m feeling grouchy about my performance, I like to think back to when I first started running and it always makes me feel awesome about how far I’ve come. Am I really that annoyed that I can’t run 10 miles at a under 9 minutes per mile right now? Didn’t running 10 miles, no matter what the pace, used to feel like the unattainable holy grail of distance running to me?

Have you ever struggled to regain fitness after taking some time off? What are the positive thoughts that help you when training isn’t going as planned?

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29 thoughts on “Making a come back is hard

  1. omg, I’m going through something similar now… I’m doing back to back training seasons and I feel sooo warn out even on my 10 mile runs… I decided to do what I did last cycle and train in a month seeing as I do have a decent base… Months of training was killing me! Thank you for writing this post, so glad to hear that I’m not alone!

    • Thank YOU for commenting! You are definitely not alone. Good luck with your training! It sounds like you know what’s best for your body and I’m sure going with that instinct will pay off for you.

  2. Yes to all of this! With every point you made I was literally nodding my head yes! Oh it’s so hard to remember all those wise words in the midst of it isn’t it? Hang on…you’ll get back at it! One thing that helps me is remembering that with every set back and period of huffing and puffing through the fitness regaining period, I’ve always come back that much strong and faster. Always. Trust the process like you said!!

    • You’re completely right. When I am actually in the middle of a bad run my thoughts don’t match up with these positive ones well at all (mostly I am thinking a lot of four letter words). But I am trying to keep my thoughts reigned in and always bring myself back to the positive ones.

  3. Love this! I’m coming back from a recurring injury and have lost so much that I gained in speed and distance. Guess what? For the most part, I’m so stinkin’ happy to be running again without fear of re-injury I’m so ok with where I am 🙂

    • That’s a great attitude, Jill. We should be grateful for the ability to run at all, even if our pace and endurance isn’t meeting our expectations. Thanks so much and I hope that your recovery and come back continue to go well!

  4. I totally know where you’re coming from with this post. I have a lousy habit that I’ve been trying to break, I start working out and I’m doing really, really good for a few weeks or even a month or two and then I just stopped for no apparent reason. And that stop is enough to set me back several steps. Right now though, I’ve been hindered by a knee injury it has reduced my activities pretty significantly so is it difficult to figure out how to work out still. The motivation has slipped a little bit seeing how I’m very limited and I know how difficult is going to be to get back into it. To stay positive and optimistic, I try to remind myself that even if my workout isn’t going perfectly, it’s still going. I tell myself that the effort I am putting into this workout is worth something, it’s worth a lot more than me sitting around thinking about how I should get in a workout.

    • Sorry to hear about your knee injury and the problems it has caused you. But it sounds like you have the right mindset. Every step forward is important, even if it’s a little one. And a workout is a workout regardless of the length or intensity and is better than no workout at all. Thanks so much for commenting and good luck with your recovery!

  5. Hey!! What a fabulous post and you’re right, heat and humidity totally wipes me out!! Boy, does it!! You’re an amazing runner and trust your body and mind!! Everything will click right back into place for you!! You have such a great attitude!! Keep up the wonderful work!! XOXO!!

    • Thanks so much Kristin! Yep. The heat and humidity is no joke but luckily it has just started to clear out around here. I can’t wait for some cooler early fall runs!

  6. This post is amazing and very openly honest. I love it … what I enjoy about it isn’t the fact that you are struggling through the process but that I now know I’m not alone in this. I can reassure you that things will get better, much better just continue to trust the process even though things are a struggle currently. Why can I say this? … because the struggles you are currently facing I’ve lived through them myself. The 5K is my specialty distance but I ran my marathon debut in February 2013 an experience I would not trade for anything but it left me completely spent even though the training made me stronger … at least for 26.2 but afterward I struggled to regain my stride. I know it won’t take you as long for you to bounce back but I’m just now getting back to the runner I know am. There is light at the end of the tunnel and you’ll get there because you are AWESOME … after all you’re a runner! 🙂

    • Thank you so much. For both the really thoughtful comment and the reblog! No doubt marathon training can cause some serious burnout, but I’m really glad to hear that you are getting back to where you want to be and hope that I will be right behind you and back to my old self soon enough! Good luck to you coming back even stronger 🙂

  7. Reblogged this on FLRunnerBoy and commented:
    This is an amazing post I read. I think it perfectly echoes the words and feelings of all of us as runners at times. We all know struggles, and we all have at some point had to make comeback be from injury, a disappointing race, etc. but regardless we ALWAYS rise from the ashes … renewed, reborn, stronger, wiser. Enjoy this great write up and remember … RUN HAPPY!!! 🙂

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