Last week I went on vacation with some running clothes packed in my suitcase. I felt excited to run on the island again. I also felt relieved I didn’t have to follow a strict training schedule or Run Streak.
I didn’t run the first few days because, well, because vacation. I slept in, ate too much food, and drank all the gin. I decided on Monday night that the next morning felt like a fine time to run. As it was cloudy and sprinkly the next morning, meaning less heat, I left on my run.
Running on the island makes me happy. It’s flat, yes, with little rolling “hills” on the active trail. Other people run and bike by and I passed more than my fair share of dogs. I kept my pace slow in hopes of avoiding overheating. I finished in great spirits and let my thoughts meander toward a fall race.
I haven’t raced in over a year. After my last full marathon in October 2015, and then fell upon numerous injuries coming into 2016. I ran the Pittsburgh Marathon Relay in May 2016, and then fell upon some more injuries. When I started back to yoga earlier this year, feeling finally healed, I found myself hoping I would be able to race again.
I’ve run some over the past year and a half, but I haven’t run much. If you want
reasons excuses, I have them all. In 2016, I focused a large portion of my energy in building the business. For over half the year, I worked two very demanding jobs while freelancing where I could. Add also lots of travel back and forth to visit my daughter, previously mentioned injuries, and the reemergence of my depression, and well, the fact that I ran at all felt somewhat miraculous.
Though, that last point is interesting, isn’t it?
I fully acknowledge that running doesn’t heal my anxiety, doesn’t magic away my depression. I still require medication and therapy. But… apparently not running (or being very active at all) does not help either my anxiety or depression. It’s tricky, that balance. It’s never that I don’t want to run, but sometimes I forget how good it is for me. Sometimes I can’t make myself get out there and do it.
I’ve been working back into running during the spring months. So when I decided sometime during the day on Tuesday that I would, in fact, run the Columbus Marathon Half this coming October, I knew I’d need a forgiving plan.
I lost a lot of speed over my time off-ish. I recognize it for what it is. When I started running again after two years of a back injury, my pace was also slow—just a bit slower than I’m running right now. Part of me feels embarrassed to share my runs, even on Runkeeper. (I am too embarrassed to share them on Twitter right now.) Many of those I ran with in 2013 are now posting paces I remember running, paces I was actively working toward as well. My husband didn’t lose any speed, and Lindsay gained a ton of speed. And here I am, back nearly where I started.
(Insert a bunch of self-doubt on not-unrelated topics like blogging and writing the damn book and those who didn’t take a break but kept working their asses off.)
Blah, blah, run your own race, Jenna.
(Blah, blah, write your own book, Jenna.)
I’m working on it. At least the running part. It helps that the theme for the Columbus Marathon this year is “This Is My Race.” Oh, the lessons we’re forced to repeat until we truly get them.
I went with a Runkeeper training plan, sponsored by Asics. I was honest about recently run distances, slow pacing, and how often I want to run. I’ve never done well with a four-day-per-week training plan. Never. I burn out quickly. So when I selected three days per week and the app didn’t tell me to try again, I felt like maybe I could do it.
I know I can do it. I can physically run 13.1 miles. And 26.2 miles. It’s just a mind game to get there. To not look at my paces and see how slow I am right now and dwell on it. To compare this training cycle to previous training cycles. To not let my head get the best of me on race day if, in the very likely chance, I’m running a slower than ever half marathon. (Though, will anything be as slow as the Pittsburgh Marathon Half in 2015? I think not. Thankfully it won’t likely be 86 degrees with burning hot sun in Columbus in October. Fingers crossed.)
All of this is to say: I finished my first week of training for the Columbus Half Marathon on Sunday. My 4.5 “long” run is the longest I’ve run since May 2016. I run some 4.5s this week followed with a six miler this weekend. I also have a crazy work week which bleeds into Saturday. But I’m doing this.
This is what I do now. Again. Always back to this.