Dealing with being slow…

I’ve spoken in previous posts about the fact that I’m currently doing a walk to run program. It’s been going really well, but I’ve also learned a lot about my overall mentality when it comes to running over the past few weeks.

There was a time in my life when I wasn’t a bad runner at all. My best parkrun was 21:59 which, for a girl who spent her teenage years hating any form of activity at all, was not too shabby!

I actually just took a scroll back through my Strava to find said parkrun, and can now pinpoint exactly where things all started to go wrong. It wasn’t long after that I ran a 10 mile race in Salisbury and developed a calf injury (but didn’t stop running during the race), and then under a year later, after rehabbing the calf injury, I developed plantar fasciitis.

Ever since those injuries, which occurred in 2016 and 2017, I’ve never really gotten back into running properly. It used to come so naturally to me back then, but I’ve really struggled to get back into it. Being in the penultimate week of my current program however, I’m feeling really positive about running for the first time in a long time.

Lucy and I after finishing the first ever Race for Life Marathon in 2015 – I managed 4:11, which on hilly terrain, I was pretty pleased with

There’s just one thing that I’m having to work my way through though, and that is the fact that my speed has dropped significantly. I’ve not run a consistent 5k yet, but I know from recent walk/runs that my running pack is slower. But that’s the thing, I’m not doing speedwork right now at all. I’m getting out there and trying to focus on my form, and I’m taking it easy so my body can get used to running again slowly, rather than throwing myself in at the deep end. I’m also making sure I’m doing runner-specific exercises and stretches weekly too.

However, when I get home, I still find myself trying to calculate how fast I was going (considering I’m doing a mixture of walking and running). I’ve not put any real work into my running since 2016/17, so of course I’m going to be a lot slower than then, and that’s okay! I’m going to use this time to build a strong foundation, and then over the coming months I can start to add in some speedwork. When I do my first 5k in a couple of weeks time, it’s going to be slow, so I’m starting to mentally prepare myself for that now.

Me in Spain, enjoying a lovely high(ish) altitude run with a view of Lake Negratin.

Why am I writing this post?

Well, partly for my own peace of mind, to talk through how I’m feeling about my current state of running, but partly as some support to anyone else who’s slowed down after injury! 

Here’s what I’m doing to feel better about this speed issue:

  1. Remind myself that whatever speed I run at, it’s always going to seem slow to some people, and fast to others! There will always be people faster than me, and always people slower. 
  2. Paying attention to what I enjoy about running – being in the fresh air, saying hello to other runners, that sense of community.
  3. Creating a plan – I really enjoyed creating my walk to run plan, using a program from Runners World as well as developing strength workouts and stretch sequences. Over the next couple of weeks, I’ll start to set goals for where I want my running to go from here
  4. Setting goal distances/races – I’m also going to have a think about what races I would like to do in the future (post corona obviously). I would love to do some in scenic places and other countries, so researching them and planning when I might do them will be fun!
  5. Remember that I’m coming back from injury (that yes, I should have created a plan to come back from years ago!). It’s okay to take things slow.

Slow is smooth, smooth is fast.

For the last few years, I’ve just jumped back into running, with random speedwork sessions or “meh” runs where I just bimble along for a few miles, not going easy, not going hard. Then, I pick up an injury or niggle and I’m back to square one again. 

Yes, a walk to run program takes a long time. Yes, it can be boring at times. But, hopefully it’s going to get me back up and running (pun fully intended) and back in the game for the long haul, rather than dipping my toe in for many more years to come like I have been doing.

I’ll look forward to setting a base level on my 5k next weekend, whatever speed I come in at, and it’ll be onwards and upwards from there! 

Have you ever had a long break from running?

What are your bucket list races/best races you’ve ever done? I’d love some inspiration!

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