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Running Can Be Less Miserable, You Just Have to Do It More

runningMiserable585I’ve been talking about “not being a runner” for five years now. But you guys, I’m kind of trying to be a runner. Again. At least for the moment.

Every time I’ve ever done any kind of distance training, I’ve had some nagging “ow.” Not injury, per se, but an ache or a pain that hindered my running “joy.” A knee or an ankle always started to hurt me from getting my running mojo going too quickly — typically because events would get sprung on me without time to properly prepare, like for our FBG 10K or the Tough Mudder that popped up about 6 weeks out. And because I don’t enjoy running, I never really did it consistently, so I never had a running base to pull from. It’d be like starting over each and every time.

Even with the Tough Mudder, my knee started hurting a couple of weeks before the event, and I spent my last two weeks of training focusing on interval training and strength, rather than running. But after totally rocking my 10+ mile Tough Mudder, I didn’t just want to lose the ability to run that kind of mileage. But I knew I had to go about maintaining distance in a slow tortoise build-up kind of way, rather than just going out and running another 10 miles.

So after giving myself a bit of time off from running, I eased back in. I ran a couple of miles here. A couple of miles there. If I felt like a knee was starting to hurt, I’d slow down or quit for the day. With no pressure to complete mileage, it was a lot easier to move along to another activity or go lift before I stretched and foamed rolled my little heart out. I’ve been sticking with it, aiming to run 3 to 4 miles fairly consistently. I started logging my mileage over the month of November. Nothing fancy, not even an app; just writing my mileage on the calendar. In November, I ran more than 21 miles, which doesn’t sound like a lot (especially considering the distance of a marathon!), but for a “non-runner,”  I was pretty pleased with myself.

It’s amazing how much better running is when you’re not in pain — and when you’re in better running shape. Getting back into running is definitely harder than sticking with it and doing it consistently. Lesson learned: It’s way more fun — or at least way less miserable — to run the more you do it. I wouldn’t say I love running or am addicted or anything. But it is nice to know that if I keep it up, even just running twice a week, I can maintain the running progress I’ve made.

Do you ever try to stick with an activity just so you won’t have to “start over”? —Erin

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