Move that body: 4.02-mile run
It’s been five days and three runs later since my underwhelming (and disappointing) comeback to running after having Miles six weeks ago.
And, as many of you told me it would, it’s getting better. Don’t misunderstand me – it’s not wonderful. I still feel heavy and slow but I feel satisfied after each run. OK, very satisfied.
The key has been taking a page out of my preggo running book and adjusting my mindset.
Healthy Strides’ (Preliminary) Guide to a Comeback
1. Running is fun … and you should make it that way. On a run Sunday, I joined a pal and some of her friends for a jaunt around the park. Well, the jaunt around the park turned into a near 6-mile outing for me. I was so excited by new company and great conversation that I couldn’t bear to make my turn off for home. A reasonable walk/run ration made the hour-plus feel effortless, and I was sad that I couldn’t join them for the rest of their run (it neared 9 miles).
2. Change your expectations. When I signed up for the Fort-4-Fitness 4-mile run, I estimated that my pace would be 10-minute miles. After all, I had been pulling some decent paces late into my pregnancy and being 20 pounds lighter should help me rock it. Right? Right!
It was nearly nine weeks between runs. Nine weeks is a long time, and it was naive to think that I would just get right in.
3. Walking is OK. My first run back was a slog fest because I was determined to run as far as I could without walking. It didn’t matter that I would have fared better (and probably my pace, as well) had I given myself breathers at regular intervals.
4. What goes up must come down. I spent 7 months or so watching my pace climb and climb, and I bet I’ll spend the next 7 months watch the pace go down and down. It’s OK for me to be slow right now. I’m taking the Garmin on all runs so that I can see what I’m doing and celebrate success as I get back in the groove. Already, my pace was 30 seconds faster today (on a longer run, to boot) than it was Thursday on that first run back.
5. Create a plan. I’m working on this one but I plan to come up with a schedule that uses run/walk intervals to build up to (hopefully) 4 miles non-stop just in time for my September race. The plan will give me focus and help me to regain endurance smartly and slowly.
6. Cross train. I’m sort of sucking on this one right now, I’ll admit. Cross training not only makes you stronger and less likely to get injured but allows you an opportunity not to get caught up in just running and gives you the chance to achieve success in other ways. Riding 10 miles on the bike and speeding past runners is a great high ;)
7. Sign up for a race. Having a tangible, realistic goal will keep you motivated. You can’t just say, “I want to run an 8:30 mile.” It might take a while, or you risk injury doing so, to set such a goal. By saying that I want to run my 4-mile race non-stop, even if it’s slow, on Sept. 25 is a well-defined goal that I am sure I can do with the right training.
8. Remember: You will have your moment. It might not be today. It might not be tomorrow. But one day, you’ll cross that finish line with a rockin’ PR and you’ll know that you earned it.
9. Don’t get caught in the comparison trap. There will always be someone thinner, someone faster, someone with more endurance. You do what you can do that day and that’s that. After all, every single run – long or short, fast or slow - is a victory.