On Coming Back Stronger

Today, I’m sharing thoughts on something I’ve been struggling with lately. I’m sharing because sometimes I feel like it feels good to get things out of your system, and maybe someone reading can relate to what I’m feeling. I also don’t believe that I should only post when I have an awesome weekend or run a crazy long race…I’ve been struggling, and in the spirit of full disclosure, I am going to talk about it. The main reason, though, why I’m writing about this is that I’m hoping that in a few months, I can look back on this post and feel proud about how far I’ve come. [Also, future me will probably laugh at current me for being so dramatic. Whatever, screw future me!]

Anyway, I digress.

This morning, I ran for the first time in 2015.

My last run on December 31st was a respectable 4.5 miles, at a <9:30/mi pace, to round out the month of December with a total of 31 miles ran. I was feeling pretty good about my progress at the end of December – I’d had a couple of weeks off work and was either running or at the gym pretty much every day and feeling like I was getting in pretty good shape.

I worked out at the gym after my first day back at work, and ended up feeling weak and leaving after my cardio warm up. Little did I know that I had caught a gnarly chest cold and cough that would keep me away from physical activity for a whole two weeks. I still rode my bike to work every morning and played dodgeball, but otherwise I tried to focus on getting better and drinking all the NyQuil.

I couldn’t remember the last time I had a cold so bad that I had to skip more than one workout. Don’t get me wrong, I skip workouts all the time – because I want to sleep in, because I stayed out too late the night before, or even because I’d just straight up rather cuddle in bed than bike to the gym at 7am. The difference in those situations is that, if I later ended up regretting not working out, I could blame it on myself. I knew that regret was a direct result of my own actions and that I could have prevented it.

That wasn’t the case here. I couldn’t work out and there wasn’t a damn thing I could do about it. (Except complain, my boyfriend might tell you 😉 )

To ease my way back into it, I went to a yoga class last weekend and felt good, so I went back to the gym twice this week to get my body moving again, albeit slowly, on the elliptical.

while watching the State of the Union address. normal gym behavior? maybe not.

while watching the State of the Union address. normal gym behavior? maybe not.

However, because I was experiencing so much discomfort in my chest and lungs, running had been out of the question since December 31st. My sickness resulted in three weeks of no runs. The last time I skipped more than one week of runs wasn’t when I broke my thumb last summer. It wasn’t even the last time I got a cold last winter. It was when I had a medical procedure done in December 2012. Over two years ago.

To keep up a certain level of physical activity for over two years, and then abruptly stop for more than two weeks, affected me more than I anticipated. And it affected me differently than I anticipated, e.g. emotionally more than physically. [It didn’t help, of course, that I have a busy job and am still mourning the loss of my grandma, but that is neither here nor there.]

This all came to a head last night when I contemplated going for a run this morning. I was afraid of how hard it was going to be. I was afraid I would have to stop mid-run. I was afraid my pace would be slower than it was before, meaning I am weaker now.

When I expressed this to my boyfriend, he suggested the idea that giving your body a break is a good thing. He said I’d probably be a little sore, but that it won’t take too many runs to get back to where I was.

I’m not gonna lie, I totally didn’t believe him (sorry Russ). But because I really had no reason not to, other than being afraid, I woke up this morning and ran 3 miles.

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It wasn’t my fastest, and it wasn’t my furthest, but I didn’t stop, and more importantly, I didn’t feel weak.

Apparently the thing I needed the most to get me out of my funk was the thing I was most afraid of.

Now I know that my boyfriend was right. It might take a little bit of time and some soreness, but I will get back into it. And hopefully, I will still be able to achieve what I was hoping for: a half marathon this spring.

Have you ever had a setback due to injury or illness?

Is there any advice you’ve been given that you hate hearing, but know it’s true?

6 thoughts on “On Coming Back Stronger

  1. We definitely need to give our bodies a break sometime! After over a year of running with pain in my foot, I finally got an MRI and the doctor said I had a badly bruised bone that probably would have been broken if I carried on running on it, so I was given a cast to wear on my foot and basically no cardio for 6 weeks! It’s been a real struggle for me and have been feeding my feelings! Luckily the 6 weeks is up now and I can ease my way back into, but I’m thankful I didn’t break anything and giving our bodies the rest they need is a must, we will always be able to get back into it 🙂

    • Katie @ Run Now Wine Later says:

      Agreed! Injury is so tough to get through. Hope you have an OK time easing your way back into the swing of things!

  2. Girl, I have you beat. Don’t feel bad. I ran a whopping 3 or 4 times between my first full marathon in October and LAST WEEK. I just could not get motivated and was dealing with major motivation burnout. My first run was tough – mentally and physically. It didn’t help being on a treadmill. I got it done though and I felt awesome about finishing afterwards. It’s such a kick to the gut, going from being so active and in shape to taking a break and seeing how fast you lose your fitness. I think the break was good for me and it gave my muscles (and my mind) a chance to recover after a year of constant training for one race or another, and like you said, it will be cool to see how far I’ve come after this hiatus – and your boyfriend is right, it will come back to us faster than we think.

    • Katie @ Run Now Wine Later says:

      Oh man! Yeah, I also found it really hard to get back into it after my half in October. I can’t even imagine the feelings (and laziness) that I would probably experience after a full marathon. Thanks for sharing your story!

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