Running lately has been minimal at best. If I’m really honest with myself, I haven’t been in consistent running shape since before summer break. During that time, I was dealing with a lot of symptoms that made running very difficult and I finally had to just quit. Now that I know my problem is gluten, I’ve been slow in the return. Part of it is nervous about longer runs. I’m not nervous about running or injury, but nervous knowing that my body has not completely healed from the gluten damage. Running is hard on the body, more than just legs.
I finally decided to scrap the marathon in December. After getting the flu, there is no way my lungs could be ready to run 26.2 in 4 weeks even if I had completed multiple 20 long runs (And I haven’t completed even 1). I felt a big weight fall off my shoulders when I crossed it off my calendar and deleted the plan from my “current training plan” page on the blog. It’s like I’m now in unchartered territory and I can go in any direction I choose. Uncertainty can be a relief!
So now what? I’m basically starting over again. I’m still nervous about my stomach/digestive system. And I still have lingering plantar fasciitis in my right foot that flares up when my calves are tight. I need to start incorporating a lot more stretching and yoga. I need a slow start up plan with no goal race in mind. I just need to run and run consistently again. I miss it and I feel like I’m not “me”.
Below are 5 tips for the return to running. I’ve done this before after a year long layoff due to horrendous case of ITBS in my knee. I remember what worked and what did not.
1. Find a beginner plan or return to running plan. For me, I need something to cross off a list and something to show some progress. I need a schedule. I’m starting with my old standby. The Couch 2 5K. It’s very humbling to click back to the plan that I used to become a runner. Now I’m using it to regain my running status.
2. Leave the GPS at home. It’s depressing when starting over. I remember the glory days of faster speeds when running seemed as easy as breathing. Now it’s difficult mentally and physically. I don’t need that GPS flashing my new speed because all I want to do is speed up and that leads to frustration and injury. For the first few weeks of the C25K plan, I’m using the timed portion instead of the distance.
3. Be consistent. Unless I’m sick or hurt, I know those days when I don’t “feel” like facing my deplorable running fitness are the exact days when I must tie the laces and go. I’m starting with 4 days a week which means doubling a day in the running plan. That means I will have days when I’m using a LOT of self-talk to get my butt out there and just run. Oh and doing this in the winter is an even better indication of my insanity.
4. Don’t be so hard on myself. I really am my own worst enemy when it comes to running. I know how hard these first few weeks are going to be. I know how hard the last few weeks were before I stopped my legs. But again, I don’t need it to be easy. I just need it to be possible. I need to allow myself to have some bad runs when the endorphins remain locked up. I need to remember that I’ve done this before and came back stronger than ever but it takes a lot of mental discipline.
5. Fuel the body first. Now more than ever, I realize the need to fuel my body properly. The gluten-free diet is working extremely well, and I need to keep up with eating clean and drinking water. Slacking on both will only hurt my running. I can’t eat junk and drink nothing but sodas and expect a great run, no matter how small it is.
Now that the end is in sight with the flu (hopefully!), I’m more than excited to write the plan down, dig out the cold weather clothes that now fit and get my running legs back.