It’s been a tough year for me, running-wise. Which you may have noticed, by the lack of posts about running on this running blog. Winter is not the best time to get lots of running in – and then by March I was down with both sinusitis (which really sapped my energy) and Achilles tendinitis. Both lasted about 6 months (i.e. until August!) – and the only thing I can say is that I am glad that I at least had them both at the same time. It would have really sucked if I just got over one, and then the other started up!
So, this last month, it feels like I am almost starting at square one with my running. Almost. But, I’ve realized, the one important difference between a new runner who is just beginning, and a former runner trying to get back in shape after a break, is that the former runner can still recall the joy of running. They have a firm memory of what they are trying to recapture. Whereas the beginner has to just trust in other people’s advice, that it will get easier.
Running does suck when you are new to it, or out of shape. So, this last month or so, I have been doing exactly what I advise non-runners who tell me they want to start running to do: don’t start too hard. Being out of breath, and having your muscles hurt, is no fun.
So start with a walk-run routine. Depending upon your starting fitness level, that might mean walk 3 minutes then run 1. Or maybe you can start at 3-and-2, or even 1-and-1. Whatever you do, just start at something that is appropriate to your fitness level. It is pretty hard for a beginner to go out and jog non-stop for even 15 minutes. But it is not that hard to do an hour of 3-and-1… which still adds up to 15 minutes of running, and a total 1-hour workout to boot!
So, this last month, I have been doing lots of hiking with the dogs, and gradually working more running into the routine. I haven’t actually used a clock rotation – I’ve just used the terrain (walking the uphills) and running according to how I feel, gradually incorporating a higher proportion of running into each outing.
And, I am happy to say, this week it happened! I rediscovered that joy of running – as I knew I eventually would – where my body actually wants me to run (as opposed to me forcing it to run, because I know it is good for me). I did my first fast little jog, along a loop that I had timed myself on several times last year. I ran it in 33 minutes my first time last fall, and gradually brought my time down to a best of 27:46 last December. It was a painful jog this time, pushing my lungs harder than they had been pushed for nearly a year – and I did it in 30:51. Not great, but not bad either – better, actually, than where I was this time last year! (And I know I have lots of room to improve on that).
So the next day I decided not to run, but to do a swift 1 hour hike as a recovery. And guess what! After 10 minutes on the trail, my body just started pushing. Walking seemed so slow. And my body started to run. All by itself. Just because it wanted to.