Becoming a Runner Again, Mentally and Physically.

About 4 weeks ago I decided to get off my ass and run another half marathon. I picked out my race, started wondering if it was possible to do it in only 10 weeks after not running in over a year, consulted with my friends and decided I was going for it.

I then immediately got a concussion.

That may have been a great, huge, glowing sign from the Universe that maybe I shouldn’t run a half marathon. I never listen to the Universe, though, so why start now? A week later, with a slightly more muddied head, I entered the Montreal Rock n Roll Half Marathon, bought a plane ticket and booked a hotel.

The last three weeks I have begun training. I have two rest days and on Saturday, I run my long run. I tack on a mile every week. I’m starting to remember how hard it is to balance a social life, dating, and running 5+ miles a day. I’m stretching myself thin and am paying for it with lack of sleep. Pretty soon, my health will remind me that I’m not Superman and need to slow the fuck down. While I haven’t learned how to say no to things, I’m super proud of myself for sticking with my schedule and running every day, even if I have plans in the evening.

I’m mastering the balancing act, but the running part? It’s really fucking hard.

I used to run all the time; I was running several half marathons a year, and had a nice pace that was easy to get into. I would always struggle the first half mile to get mentally into the run, and then I would zone out and run fairly well for the next however many miles. Now, however, not only am I struggling with the first mile, I’m struggling all throughout the second, third, fourth and fifth miles. I cannot get into that zone, I cannot mentally get into the run. (Unless getting super frustrated and wanting to cry counts as mentally getting into it.) With only 5 weeks until the race, I’m now wondering if I can actually run 13 miles.

Couch to 21.1k in 10 weeks sounds like a really bad idea right now. Oh, it sounds like a bad idea in general? You could have told me that? Noted.

I’ve tried switching up my routes, which has helped some, but my legs apparently really enjoyed their break, and really, really don’t want to run as long, and as fast, as I’d like to be running. The biggest mental hurdle that I have to overcome is that I am constantly comparing to my former running self. The self that could run 9 minute miles, get in the zone super easily and enjoyed running. The self that could take a month off and then get right back into things like no time had passed. The self that didn’t train for half marathons until the week before and still was able to have a successful run. My new running self can barely run below an 11 minute mile, as mentioned before cannot mentally get into the run, and am currently not liking it. That runners high is inconveniently missing. I know it won’t always be this way, I know a year is a long time to take between runs and helloooo, I’m 34. I am not 24 anymore. My body just doesn’t bounce back as quickly as it used to.

Why did I take a year off? It started last May with a hip injury. A hip injury I ignored. I ran the Turquoise Lake Half, followed quickly by the Leadville Heavy Half, the hardest race I have ever done. I ran 15.5 miles, up 3200 feet in elevation, and back down again, in 4 hours and 26 minutes. It was the hardest, most beautiful, most rewarding race I’ve ever done. One I want to do again.

That was the last time I ran. I was signed up for the Golden Leaf Half last fall but had to skip it due to my hip being in incredible amounts of pain. You probably wonder why I pushed myself through those races in the first place, but honestly my hip did not bother me at all during those races. It wasn’t a running injury. It wasn’t until July, August, September and into October that the pain really started. It was there before, but really reared it’s ugly head after Leadville ended. I’m finally at the point where I can run without any pain. I’ve been there for a few months now but haven’t made it a priority. So I decided to scratch my travel bug at the same time. I’ve always wanted to go to Montreal, so here I go. Forcing myself to make my health, my fitness, a priority. Something I haven’t done in a very long time. It’s really, really hard.

All I can do is just keep at it. And remind myself that if I have to walk some, or even most, of the half in Montreal will not be the end of the world. After all, I’ll be in Montreal for my first time and travel is always a good thing. Putting myself first is a good thing. I’m running, after all. Even if poorly.

  • San

    You get it, girl! I am so proud of your for getting back to running…. remember, you’re already lapping everyone on the couch :) You can do this. It takes some dedication (and pain- ha!) but your mind is stronger than your body!

  • Lacey Bean

    1 – so glad you’re blogging!!!

    2 – I was in the same boat about a year ago. I was training for a half and running didn’t feel as good as it used to. Also I got really sick and had to give up training and when I picked it back up it was awful. I did a fun 5k and promised myself that if I hated it I would quit. I hated it, and I did. And it took until over a year later to pick running back up again and have it feel good. Don’t force it, especially if you’re not enjoying it. It’s great you’re running again but you don’t want to wind up hating it.