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Patience and running

patience-and-running

I had a baby a couple of weeks ago. I was lucky enough to run up until 14 hours before giving birth, and I had an uncomplicated delivery. Still, my body is healing and I’m not quite ready to run again.

But I want to. In the couple of weeks since I had my daughter, spring has sprung and it seems like everyone I know has taken up running. Which is awesome – I love it when friends fall in love with the sport. I’m just green with envy because I feel like the only one who isn’t out there.

I know I’m being dramatic. Isn’t it odd how we’d give anything to run when we’re sidelined, but we start dreading hard workouts as soon we’re back? Running is funny that way.

I know I will run again, and soon. But I also know it’s going to be a long road back. I probably won’t see paces I’m pleased with or be able to run double digit distances for months, which is going to be frustrating.

Here’s the thing: running requires a lot of patience. The old saying “slow and steady wins the race” really applies when it comes to our sport. There’s a reason why most training plans are four months long, and why most coaches say you should have at least one year of running under your belt before training for a marathon (source). We don’t get faster overnight. PRs are rarely unexpected. Becoming a better runner takes a lot of time, hard work, and a hefty dose of faith.

I’m not going to lie – I’m going to be tempted to jump right back into training as soon as I’m cleared to run. I probably could start with 5-milers, and be logging 20 mile weeks my first week back. However, that wouldn’t be smart. I’d likely be injured within the first month which would lead to even more frustration.

Here’s what I’m going to do to keep my patience in check while making my comeback:

  • Keep a log. I’m not going to officially start training for a race for another few months, but I’m going to keep track of my workouts beginning with my first one back. Why? So I can see how far I’ve come when I feel discouraged. It may be ages before I can hit my old paces, but seeing some improvement will motivate me to stick with it.
  • Focus on distance instead of speed. Some runners can build endurance and speed at the same time without risking injury. I am not one of those runners. In the past, I’ve concentrated on gaining back endurance and my speed naturally comes back, too.
  • Forget about old PRs. I used to be able to run a 1:40 half marathon – two years ago. While I’d love to be that fast again, I can’t pressure myself to reach that goal anytime soon. So, I’m wiping the slate clean and all of my new races will become “post-baby PRs”.

For those of you who have given birth, been injured, or just needed to take some time off running, how have you stayed patient when making your comeback?

Written by Jen Matz.