"Comparison is the thief of joy."
I generally subscribe to this idea and when it comes to running, I am pretty good about this. I don't often compare my efforts or times with others. That's not to say that I am not intrigued when a fellow runner smokes a PR. In that case, I want to know how they did that and what tools or techniques they used that I could employ with my own training. I love learning about other runners's training and races but don't pay too much mind to how I stack up. But...when it comes to myself, I am playing the comparison game all day long....all day e'ryday.
Normally this trait works for me. It helps me stay motivated and focused. It keeps me from skipping runs in favor of happy hour or laying on the couch in front of the TV. But in the case of coming back from injury, it can be challenging.
I've had to put my focus on time goals and pace on the back burner. It has been quite humbling to slog through 1-2 mile runs and feel winded and sore afterwards. I have focused primarily on the distance accomplishments and slowly but surely, I chipped away at my endurance. Last night, I ran 3.5 comfortable miles and realized that I felt the most comfortable when I was running at a faster clip during the last half mile. Progress. Slow, but it's happening.
When I am out running, I often find myself daydreaming about my PR races, about times when I could run 8:30 pace for 8-10 miles, and about days when I ran blazing fast (for me) 800s on the treadmill. On days when I'm struggling to hit sub-10 pace on a long-ish run, it can be a big giant piece of humble pie. I find myself feeling frustrated sometimes. Sometimes the frustration translates to speed and other times it just translates to pissed off miles (real talk here).
On some level, it's been a good learning experience for me. It's teaching me to love running again, simply for the love of running and not for a race or a time goal. I'm re-learning how it feels to run...how some days you feel like you're flying and other days, like you're running in concrete. I'm finding my paces again, both fast and slow and everything in between.I'm figuring out how to incorporate speed work into my training again, but without overly taxing my body....yea that's basically an oxymoron.
I have learned at least a dozen times to be patient when I'm out on a run. The speed will come. This season is about focusing on healthy running and continuing to focus on strength training. I have more excitement about my upcoming 10k, the Chick-fil-A 10k, than I have in a really long time. Sometimes a break is good, even if it's not by choice.
Ok, so time for your input my friends. What is the best and worst thing about coming back from an injury or a long break from running?