Ask me what I like about running and I can name all of two things:
1. It’s convenient
2. It gives me an excuse to get outside when the weather’s nice
So, yeah, I don’t have any warm, fuzzy feelings about running. I’m always baffled when I read stories in Runner’s World about people whose lives have been transformed by running (just as I’m sure people don’t get my obsession with BodyPump or other Les Mills classes). I can’t say I have a wonderful time during my runs or that running has any positive effect on my body (on the contrary, I gained some weight when I trained for a half marathon). In terms of stress release or post-exercise endorphins, I don’t find running works any better than any other physical activity.
But when the weather’s nice, I suddenly love to run. I don’t love the activity itself, but it feels amazing being outside when the sun is shining and there’s a nice cool breeze. I love taking in the scenery and smelling things like freshly cut grass, flowers, summer barbecues. I hate being cooped up in the gym when I know it’s gorgeous outside, so in the warmer months, I find myself ditching my usual workouts to go running.
Since weather is my main motivation for running, I don’t do a whole lot of it between the months of November and April. The result? I get extremely deconditioned during those months. This winter, for example, I think I ran maybe twice. Once on Christmas Day when the gym was closed. Another time during a freakishly warm day in January.
Suffice to say, when I first dusted off my running shoes in March (I say this metaphorically, since I use my running shoes for all of my other physical activities… shhh, don’t tell anyone!), it was like starting from scratch. I only ran 5 kilometres but I couldn’t get home fast enough and my legs were shot the next day. I kept wondering how on earth I completed a half-marathon only six months earlier but I guess that’s what happens when you take such a long hiatus from an activity.
Now that the weather is warming up, I find myself constantly thinking, man, I should really go for a run today. But my body is at odds with my brain. I want to enjoy my runs but can’t seem to get past how tired my legs feel. I know if I keep at it for a few more weeks, it will eventually get easier, but it’s so hard right now.
All of this brings me back to two years ago, when I first started working out and was miserably out of shape. I remember how every attempt at exercise was extremely humbling, especially when I tried running. I must have been extremely dedicated back then, because even though it was hard, I just kept at it. Every day. Until one day, it wasn’t that hard anymore.
Which is why, in a weird way, I’m kind of glad I suck at running again. It’s a reminder of why it’s so important to maintain your activity level even once you’ve achieved your goals. Since I don’t love running, becoming deconditioned isn’t that great of a loss but if I neglected my other activities and suddenly couldn’t enjoy them anymore because they were too hard? I would be so disappointed in myself.
The moral of the story – don’t take your level of fitness for granted. You had to work to get to where you are, which means you have to work just as hard to keep it up.
Have you ever become deconditioned? How did it happen and how did you get back to where you were?