Or so I blurted out as the Redhead reflexively pulled covers over her head to shield her eyes from the light that fluttered in the room. She mumbled, “How far did you go?” “Five miles,” I replied.
A mutual laugh.
Getting back to running is like getting back to most things. And, the attitude you adopt is likely to determine whether you stick with your return after a few weeks. There is something inherently humbling about struggling to finish a 5M run at a pace you would consider, under normal circumstances, a very easy run.
Struggling to do something your mind—notwithstanding all the reason and experience and tempered expectations you can enumerate—is the most difficult task any runner faces when coming back from an extended break or injury. And attitude is the factor that determines your willingness to continue to struggle through these ‘underperforming due to unreasonable expectations’ runs. With time and effort come better times and longer runs.
If you chose to have a negative attitude about these early runs, you will quickly feel defeated and your exuberance and desire to run will diminish. Soon you will be finding reasons to not run. A negative attitude spreads fast, and lingers longer than two weeks of positive runs.
This is why I chose to have an attitude of bemusement and pure enjoyment about these early-return-to-running runs. When, after mile two, my internal doubt voice begins to suggest shorter routes, I try to force a laugh and accept the joy of effort and pain. While a negative attitude takes almost no emotional energy to adopt, maintaining a positive attitude is a daily effort. But, an effort well worth the results.
And this attitude was most helpful during my extremely difficult (insert sarcasm) of a 400, 800, and a 400.