A big question for me last year and one I continue to ask myself as I train for my first 50k in July: when does running get easier?
Last year it went a little like this…
It happens to the best of us – when running takes a dip, you mainline Netflix and your favourite pair of running shoes gravitate to the back of the wardrobe. You look on your scales – perhaps the numbers haven’t changed much but your clothes are a little tighter and you start feeling soggier around the edges.
And I’m not alone. The lovely Amanda who I’d met up with for lunch the day before was in a post-marathon funk. The issue, and one many of us share, is training for a marathon or indeed any race is hard. But when starts to feel like work, that’s when it becomes drudgery. And the result? Running loses its joy and once the marathon is over, running comes to a grinding halt.
Last year I couldn’t blame anything nearly as impressive as a marathon. While I deferred London because of issues with my lower back, it didn’t rule out running totally. Instead, life got in the way as it’s apt to do every now and again. I did keep running but fewer miles and slower and slower.
But I got out of that funk and moved on. I decided it’s too much hard work being miserable.
So, over two weeks I worked hard on silencing the blerch. Some days better than others.
Getting back into running
The first weekend was great – both days. Albeit the runs were slow and there was a bit of walking involved, I did get to take some pics along the Thames, hang out with some fabulous folk and eat cake! Perhaps a little too much of the nutella and banana cake, but it happens.
Tuesday – running home from work was OK, some walking up a mile long hill on the route but other than that, fine. Thursday – awful. It felt like running through mud – my legs heavy and slow. No zip in my step and a few too many walking breaks.
Still taking those walking breaks as I hit the trails. Training for a 50k trail race for me will be all about time on my feet. I won’t be fast but I will finish.
The one big lesson of running
I’ve got choices about how I respond to awful runs. One is to beat myself up and get grumpy. The other is to be a little more Zen about it – I was out, I was running, and there were no bus rides for me on the way home (though it was very tempting). I choose the second option.
So when does running get easier? I’ll let you know. Perhaps tomorrow, perhaps in a month’s time, but it will.
It all takes time. There are good, bad and downright ugly moments, but it does get better. More on how to deal with the bad run here.
Here’s the best advice I got when restarting my running journey…
Sam – For me? It’s about my tenth run back. I just accept it’s hard to get back but improvement comes….It’s a funny improvement curve.
Mel – I sign up for a race and then panic run
Harriet – I’m coming out of this – just! Yesterday I did 6 miles but remember not so long ago completing 3 and not being able to go further….don’t think of how fit you were when you were doing the marathon. Don’t compare yourself to then…As they say, a 12 minute mile is the same distance as an 8 minute one!
Amanda – Today I started small. Very small. 3k teeny tiny small after oooooh many months!
Emma – Just remember there are always ups and downs! Pick a route you like that isn’t too long and don’t put pressure on yourself. Decide on meeting small goals. I had been off with a virus for 2 weeks in the middle of half marathon training. Forced myself out to do 10 miles yesterday. It was horribly tough but have a great sense of achievement afterwards. I nearly didn’t go as was feeling too scared!!
Rob – for me it got easier when I had a routine that fitted with my commitment to running and other areas of life
And I think this has to be my favourite….
Heather – Sign up for a run with wine en route. Cheers you up no end and give you energy you never knew you had!
Lessons to take from this
- There are ups and downs and it takes time
- Get your shoes on and get out the door
- Don’t compare now to where you were when in proper training
- Running needs to become just part of your life
- Sign up for a race
- Sign up for a race with wine en route
Though I haven’t yet signed up to a race with wine en route, I’m hoping my 50k will have cake.
Happy running all!
(September 2016/Updated June 2017)