Had a fantastic run this morning. Just an easy 3, but considering how sporadic running has been for me lately it qualifies as fantastic that I can lump “easy” and “3” together to describe the same workout. I figured I’d spend a mile coaxing my legs out of a jog and into the 8:45 range, but they happily went there on their own. It would appear that I’m getting my “running autopilot” back, and I couldn’t be happier. You know that feeling you get when you’re getting back into shape and you can actually start worrying about being BORED on a run because you’re no longer concentrating 110% on keeping your legs/knees/ankles/feet operating in perfect harmony? Glorious.
I’m hoping to use this experience to springboard back into slightly more serious training. Um, “springboard” is not the right word. Slightly too abrupt. I will be sliding (sliding???) back into more serious training? No, that doesn’t work either. Getting into shape is definitely more like going uphill than downhill. Well, whatever. Metaphors fail me. The thing is, husband and I have this slightly unrealistic goal (Exhibit A: Paris Mountain 20k) of competing in every race of the GTC Racing Series this year. So far we’re 3 for 3, but the Greer Earth Day Half Marathon is 5 weeks away and I haven’t run 10 miles since the Green Valley race in early February. Realistically, if I can get a long run back up to 10 miles (or slightly longer) I know I can finish, but I’m a little curious to see how my hip holds up to more stress. I’m pretty sure it was the FAST of at Green Valley that did me in, so it’s probably best if I don’t try anything speed-like and set the “all running, no walking, just finish” goal for the Half.
And then there’s the fact that I’ve got to get a long run over 10 miles in 3 weeks. Hmm. Interesting. Coming off another slow week of training, this seems like quite an undertaking. I’m conveniently blaming this week’s laziness on visiting relatives, but we all know that it’s just me. Before that, I was treating and recovering from (and possibly babying) the hip injury from Green Valley. Before that, I took two weeks off as a mental break from the marathon training. And before that, it was Christmas. Or it was icy. Or I was writing a thesis. Who knows? There are always so many reasons NOT to run! And of course, the less consistent I am, the more uncomfortable I am when I finally do get out there. Then, I feel sorry for myself and my out-of-shapeness, and I’m even less motivated.
It’s just so much easier to take time off of running than it is to make time to run. On occasion, I think this is just fine. I don’t really want running to be my top priority. That is, I don’t want to carefully plan my meals around my next run. I don’t want to lose a weekend between planning for and recovering from a long run. Like the time I missed out on a fun night with friends because I accidentally fell asleep after a 14-miler…fell asleep in the middle of the floor…while stretching…and fell asleep again after promising one of the stood-up friends that I’d head over in a couple of minutes (I’m still REALLY sorry about that, Jen!).
Nope, missing the occasional run is just one of the luxuries of being a recreational runner. The problem is my penchant for laziness, and the way one unplanned rest day has a tendency to steamroll into a whole lethargic week. Or more. Which is one of the dreadful things about running…it takes a long, looooong time to build a base and get in shape, and a ridiculously short time to slough off the benefits of that training. I can spend 60 days running and building a base, and it takes only 4 or 5 days off to begin the downhill slide (Ah-ha! THAT’S where the word “slide” is appropriate) back to being a “civilian,” as non-runners are called in “Again to Carthage.” What seems even more unfair is that this effect is more pronounced the better shape you’re in. Granted, it’s not like flipping a switch between “in shape” and “out of shape.” It is something you feel, though, and it can be discouraging to have to work your way out of the discomfort phase and into the “autopilot” phase after a few too many days off.
Fortunately, like many things in the world, there’s a counterbalance to this seeming injustice. Once you’re hooked on running, even though there are 1001 reasons daily NOT to run, all you really need is that 1 reason TO run. For me, the Greer Half will do nicely. I’ve never raced a Half Marathon before, so it’ll be an instant PR as long as I finish. Sweet! I’m also still trying to recall where I was a year ago, and how far I’ve come to rebecome a runner. I’d like to keep taking 3 steps forward for every 1 back. The run today went a long way towards remotivating me. 😀