It is one of the great injustices of life that fitness built up over several months of running takes a mere couple of weeks to lose.
I took up running in 2009 as preparation for a trek in Peru. I took on an extra fitness regime to the one recommended by the trekking company because I was terrified of not managing the trek and being sent back. As it happens, I needn’t have worried as I thrived at high altitude. In fact, all the ‘oldies’ on the trip made it to the end while it was the young ones who piked, thus proving that endurance is less about physical fitness and more about mental attitude.
I was a sprinter at school and hated the cross country so I did not expect to enjoy this new activity. I bet you’ve already worked out that this proved to be false. I continued running even after the trek was over. I think I liked the easy fitness it brought (a 30 minute run gave great results in a short period of time). And it kept me trim while I ate too much chocolate and drank too much wine. Always a good incentive.
I was never a serious runner. I didn’t go out in all weathers and I’ve never run so much as a 5km fun run, let alone a marathon. But it was a nice way to spend a sunny morning, particularly as I live near a river path with an easy 5.5km loop between two bridges.
I ramped it up in time for my first tilt at Oxfam Trailwalker in 2012. Not long after I ran my first 15km training run, my knee gave me trouble and I was advised not to run for several weeks. Not wanting to risk my ability to walk the 100km for Trailwalker, I chose to walk only in training for the event as walking did not seem to give me trouble, only running.
And I’ve never really been able to establish a regular running pattern since.
The trouble with losing momentum is that the longer you leave it, the harder it gets to start again. You know it’s going to be hard. It is Going To Hurt. It will Not Be Fun.
But the blocks of chocolate and the glasses of red wine have been taking their toll and so the time (and the weather) was ripe for a running return today.
It didn’t take long before I was starting to think this was a bad idea. That’s when Sadistic Coach Me stuck her oar in.
“Okay, you’re struggling, I get that. Tell you what, you can stop when you get to the bridge.”
“No, no, actually, don’t stop here, at least get to the hockey field.”
“There’s a downhill bit here, you might as well keep going.”
“Why are you slowing down??” “It’s the café. I haven’t had my coffee yet.” “Well, you should have started the loop at the café so you could have coffee when you got to the end. Get moving.”
“Can I stop for a drink of water at the drink fountain?” “No.” “Why not?!?” “Are you kidding? It’s taken me three months to get you back out here. If I let you stop, I’ll never get you started again.”
“Don’t stop on the bridge! You’re almost there, for Pete’s sake. Why would you stop now?”
But in between these bullying phrases was the constant mantra going around and around in my head.
“You’ll feel so good when you can say ‘I ran the whole 6km without stopping.'”
I hate it when she’s right.
I ran the whole 6km without stopping!!