Running has been a part of who I am for so long that I’ve forgotten how hard it was when I first started out, 13+ years ago. As I have made my way back outdoors, almost 5 months post surgery, I have just assumed that the miles would come back easily. My hip no longer bothers me and for some reason, I just thought my speed and distance would still be there. I am very, very wrong.
My first run outside was the first week in September. We were in Miami and since there was no treadmill, I knew it was time to take my running to the road. It was hard. Like really hard. My pace was around 10:00 min/mile and I couldn’t get my legs to turnover any faster. Not to mention the Miami humidity wasn’t helping. I made it 4 miles and I couldn’t believe how “far” that felt. My legs felt rusty and it was almost like I was having to learn how to run all over again. To say I was feeling frustrated would be an understatement.
When we finally made it back to Raleigh, I started trying out some of my old running routes. I went out to the greenway, ran along Hillsborough Street, but no matter how fast I felt like I was running, my pace was always around 8:45 – 9:15 min/mile. That’s about one minute slower than my previous average easy pace, and yet it was still an effort to run that. I thought I had done a decent job of keeping up my cardiovascular fitness, but I underestimated what four months off from running can do to the body.
This morning I decided to head out to the Tobacco Trail. The Tobacco Trail is where I always did my Saturday long runs, and I’ve really missed being out there. It really is one of my favorite places to run. I told myself I would run anywhere from 6-7 miles, depending on how I felt. When I think about my old running self, that seems so short and like an “easy” run. Well I have quickly learned that it does no good to think in terms of my old running self. That is not who I am or where I am right now. I managed to make it 6.5 miles and then walked .5 miles, mainly because my stomach wasn’t feeling so great. My average pace was 9:09 and my legs and arms are actually quite sore from the run. Oh how things change.
Even though I’m slower than I once was and can’t run quite as far as I once did, being outside at the Tobacco Trail this morning made me really happy. It was so nice to be outdoors with the all of the other runners, and I got to see some running friends out there who I haven’t seen in quite a while. And even though I feel like I ran 15 miles instead of 6.5, I realize how much I’ve missed that feeling. I’ve missed the Saturday morning running routine, the post run turkey burger at out favorite restaurant, and the nap that always followed.
My doctor told me it would be six months to a year before I could run again. Today marks 4 months and 19 days. Sure, I’m only up to running 6.5 miles at a pace that I’m not quite accustomed to. But that’s okay. I’m not the runner I was earlier this year but that doesn’t mean that runner (or a better one) isn’t in my future. Today I think I finally internalized what a long process all of this is going to be. It makes me appreciate running much more than I ever have before.
I look forward to what the future has in store.
Happy Trails and Happy Running,