Whether it’s due to an injury, pregnancy, or simply life most of us at some point or another are going to face a set back that will cause us to lose fitness we’ve worked hard to gain.
Staring in 2014, I worked really hard to train and get faster. I kept focusing on it marathon after marathon and had some really great strides. My average pace went from a 10:00 min/mile to a 7:30 min/mile. Then I got pregnant. I should stop here and say I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
My goal throughout my pregnancy was simply to keep a base. I wasn’t worried about trying to keep up speed, in fact I thought it best not to do speed much at all but instead just focus on doing what my body felt good doing. Some days it was quicker and some days it was slower, but nonetheless it was no where near where I once was.
Fast forward through birth and recovery and then I began to start back to running again. I knew I would go into Boston without a time goal, but I had no idea where I would be. I’ve heard from many Mom’s that they came back faster after having a baby – would that be the same for me too?
Running postpartum takes a different focus. For me, the speed didn’t come back immediately. I didn’t expect it to as it had been almost a year since I’d really done a speed workout; however, as the weeks progress I am seeing the benefits of hard work and consistency and am slowly starting to feel like me again.
Losing fitness can be hard – you worked really hard to get that speed and endurance! The good news is that you can get it back! So, how do you handle a loss of fitness?
Let it Go
It may sound a little harsh but the first thing you have to do is simply let it go. You don’t have to let go of your goals to get back there, but for now you can’t focus on where you used to be. You have to focus on one day at a time. Moving past the initial frustration with losing fitness is very important.
One Small Step at a Time
Just like with any comeback it takes focusing on one small step at a time. As I train for my first marathon postpartum I’m not thinking further down the road about how I am going to get my speed back, I am simply looking at one day at a time as they come. I focus on the task at hand. Consistency has always been key when it comes to running improvement and that comes from going out there and doing what you must each day.
Don’t Get Ahead of Yourself
You aren’t going to go out on your first run, feel great, and immediately hit paces that you were before. If you do – well you are one of the very lucky few. Even though speed is fun it only comes with work and sometimes that work takes months to achieve. Don’t start too fast, run too many miles, or run workouts that you aren’t ready for. You are starting over in some ways and that’s okay. Take it slow and don’t get over zealous – this will only lead to burn out or even worse injury.
Celebrate the Small Victories
You may not be celebrating any new PR’s at the moment but there are other small victories. This past week I ran the quickest long run I’ve had in quite some time. It was no PR but I celebrated the small victory! It’s important to remember that those victories are important. It’s okay to celebrate the small victories because those get you to the BIG victory further down the road.
Keep Dreaming BIG
Have a setback? Feel like you’ve lost all your fitness? That’s OK! You got there once and you can get there again. It may take hard work, dedication, and lots of patience but most likely that is what got you there the first time. Don’t let your dreams die just because you’ve had a set back. Once you can get back out there just put one foot in front of the other and keep working towards those dreams. Sometimes the biggest reward of reaching those goals is the work it took to get there.
Don’t let a loss of fitness get you down. It can be frustrating yes, but with hard work you will get back to where you once were. Maybe not today or tomorrow, but you will.