A blog by runners. For runners.

Running setbacks: dealing with injury, pregnancy, busy schedules, and more

dealing-with-setbacksIt was last Thanksgiving, and I had just run an 8K turkey trot in 34:55 – crushing my PR by over a minute. My son’s first birthday was the next day. I saw the turkey trot as the perfect end to a great year of postpartum racing. I told my husband later that day that I was ready.

Ready to start trying for baby number two. Which, with my history, meant that I’d have to cut back on my running intensity.

Fast forward to nearly a year later. I’m 18 weeks pregnant and I recently ran a half marathon. I promised my husband, my doctor, and myself that I’d reduce my mileage after that race (my hips aren’t fans of distance running during pregnancy.)

Obviously, I’m really happy to be where I am right now. I want a second child more than anything. But the runner side of me knows I haven’t run hard in an entire year. And with my due date still 5 months away, I know it will be quite a long time before I see continuous sub-8 minute miles or double digit runs again.

Stepping back from running is not easy. Whether you’re trying to get/ are pregnant, are injured, or just need an off season, taking a break from your regular running routine is incredibly challenging mentally.

We train hard to get into peak condition. All of those challenging tempo runs, track workouts, and long runs add up over time. But letting go of our speed and endurance is even harder than all of the training we did to get to that point. We feel like we’re giving up, even when we know it’s for the right reason.

I think almost all runners go through this a few times throughout the course of their running careers. The non-training period is filled with so much fear and uncertainty. Will I ever be that fast again? Will I ever be able to run a few miles without stopping – and without foot/ knee/ IT band pain? Will I ever feel like my old self again?

Even though I’m struggling with these thoughts right now, I have the privilege of knowing that I will come back. I’ve been injured before and pregnant before, and both times I grappled with these same feelings when I stepped back. And when I returned to running, I ran faster than ever.

Now, of course I don’t know if I’ll have that same good fortune this time. But you better believe I will work my butt off once I can train again. My fall 2014 race calendar is already filling up. If there’s one thing that motivates a runner to want to train hard, it’s the fear of never being able to race again.

For now, I’m trying to enjoy the downtime. I tell myself that stepping back will only make my body stronger in the long run. Because someday, there will be long runs, and training plans, and race bibs with my names on them. I cannot wait.

Written by Jen Matz