Running has always consisted of highs and lows for me, with a majority falling somewhere in between. If you’ve been running long enough you probably have dealt with setbacks or periods of time where your body has to slow down.
I don’t like to refer to pregnancy as a setback, but since I know some of you can’t relate to pregnancy this can also be applied to an injury or step back in training. I’ve gone through all three of these and while pregnancy is the first thing that has slowed me down for a longer period of time, I’ve dealt with my fair share of injury and step backs.
The most notable times of this in my life were:
- Coming back from my femoral stress fracture
- Coming back from my tibial stress fracture
- Stepping back to get past over training after Kiawah
As runners we always strive to run faster. We want to be faster, set that new PR, and see the results of our hard work. Sometimes life happens and forces us to slow down. These periods can be hard, but also very rewarding for your body if you treat it right.
I’ve learned over the years a few tips to help me get through these periods and look at it in a positive light. There is nothing you can really do about it so learning to treat your body and focus on the positive is the best thing you can do to eventually begin working on your speed again.
Acceptance is the first key point. If you’ve ever been injured, you’ve probably gone through a period where you keep questioning am I really injured? The key with any step back is to accept what has happened, and yes that even means accepting the mistakes you made that got you there. I had to accept my mistakes, my over training, and too many miles to move past the injury. It also teaches you a lesson for once you are running again. Now that I’m pregnant, I’ve accepted that my body is not going to be the same or run the same paces I used to and so I’m just happy for what it’s allowing me to do.
Be thankful to run. It may sound silly, but sometimes it’s important simply to be thankful that you CAN run. After an injury, you have to come back to running slowly. Your pace slows down and it takes time to get where you once were. That’s okay! I always focus on just being thankful to run again (or in my case right now still being able to run) and focus on what I can do. You may be slower, but you are running!
Make sure to approach one day at a time regardless of how far you have to go. This has been the biggest game changer right now for me. You can’t focus on how far you have to go you simply have to focus on what you need to do that day. If you’ve got a 30 minute run/walk on your schedule – then focus on that. Don’t worry about the fact that you still aren’t running 30 consecutive minutes yet. You will get there but you can’t jump forward until you complete the day you are in.
You WILL get your speed back. Looking ahead at when I can train again seriously makes me nervous every day because I wonder how I will ever get back to where I was. Then I remember that I did it once (several times) and I can do it again. The work you put in is no different, and you already know how to do it. It may take time but it just makes it that much more rewarding.
Put it in perspective. Running is a huge part of my life and one that can never quite be replaced with something else. However; it is just a small part of my life in the grand scheme of things. It’s my hobby and while it always will be important it does not run my life. Remembering things like this make coming back from an injury or time away a little easier. Have fun with it! Don’t forget at the end of the day it’s fun.
Setbacks happen, injuries happen, and time off happens. No matter how slow your pace may be you can do whatever you set your mind to. Take it a day at a time and before you know it you just might end up surprised how far you’ve come! Don’t worry about your pace now. Embrace what it is and enjoy running for what it is really meant to be – fun.
How do you pick yourself up when your pace is slowed dramatically?