There is a bike path near my parents house and that follows a creek. About 7 minutes out from my house, the path splits and there is a dirt path that runs parallel to the bike path.
I know. It’s freaking awesome.
On parts of it, you get some nice views of the mountains over the watermelon fields.
Run along this path for just over 3 miles, and you hit the beach. 10K round trip.
And if you split off 2 miles in, it takes you to the lemon groves. Which go on for miles.
As I’ve mentioned before, it took me for.ev.er. to get back into running post-baby. The weight, my joints, my work schedule, the exhaustion…it took a really long time. Signing up for those two races (neither of which I actually did) was a good way to jump start my mileage, but I quickly realized that putting a race on the calendar didn’t fix the fact that I couldn’t run fast or as regularly as I used to. And when I tried to force either, I usually ended up hurting something.
Over those months my goal completely shifted from hitting any sort of PR to feeling normal. I just wanted to feel normal.
When I got back to CA, even though my days were pretty unstructured, I felt like I was drowning. Paul was gone, the baby stopped sleeping through the night, and I had a lot of things to take care of and no idea where to start. But I am very fortunate to have people in my life who made sure I had an hour every day to get out of the house for a run or swim.
And because I was so tired and there was so much other stuff going on, I could not care less about how fast I was going. I just went, happy to have a short window where it was OK to put all of my other real responsibilities (finding a house, a job, daycare, insurance, taking care of the baby) on hold, listen to a podcast or let my mind just wander, without feeling guilty.
Then one day on a run I realized….it wasn’t that bad. Without pushing at all, I was holding 9 min miles. I can make quasi-decent bases in the pool. My workouts are moderate in length and effort and I’m not in SUPER AMAZING shape, but I feel…normal. And feeling normal feels wonderful.
When I stopped stressing about how far I was from where I used to be, or where I wanted to be, when I took the stress out of running, I made progress. For me it was just a matter of not pushing too hard and time.
To top it off, I actually look forward to that hour every day. Heading out the door for my run doesn’t carry the same sense of dread it used to (maybe because anything is more appealing than writing another cover letter…) When you’re an active person who is always looking to improve, it’s easy to forget how lucky you are to be able to go out and jog, or bike, or swim, or climb, or walk, or whatever it is you do, and just be healthy.
Hopefully soon I will want to wear my Garmin on my runs, be up for track workouts, and focus hitting a 1:45 half marathon. But for now, being able to run and swim and feel normal is enough. So I’m going to take a little time and just…enjoy.