the psychology of returning...

Discussion in 'General Fitness' started by Nina Stoessinge, Sep 15, 2003.

  1. Some ramblings and I wonder if anyone can relate.

    Last year (and the year before), every improvement just felt wonderfully precious and wonderful
    because I was constantly entering new territory. I think that constituted a big part of my positive
    attitude towards running.

    Right now, I am happy to improve, I am very happy to have done a 10miler this week, but it's always
    got that bitter tinge of "I'm still so far from the shape I was in last year". When I run a 9:30
    pace and it feels a bit brisk, instead of just being happy that I'm already running faster than the
    10:00 of two weeks ago, I'm just thinking about how soon I can expect to return to the 9:00 easy
    pace of last year. That's a main obstacle to getting back into the positive mindset - I don't yet
    quite believe in myself as a runner again (which may also be the reason I can't quite withstand the
    chocolate yet).

    I keep trying to tell myself this situation is also a gift in a way - I'm able to relive the
    beginner's steep improvement curve. On the other hand, I can't stop wondering where my running
    skills and endurance would be now had I not stopped. Anyway, I'd be very happy bout some input here.
    Has anyone been in a similar situation, and how did you deal with it?

    cheers, nina
     
    Tags:


  2. Chris Smith

    Chris Smith Guest

    Nina, last year I took off from running for almost two months due to preparations for moving to a
    new town; as a result, I lost some of my conditioning and had a long climb back (pun intended, as
    you will see) to get ready for a marathon in the fall. At first I did find it demoralizing to be
    slower and in less shape for hard running at distance. But four things helped me and perhaps
    would help you:
    1)I developed a wide variety of running loops with varying terrain so that I was almost never doing
    the same type of run twice in a week. Before long, my mind stopped comparing how I felt at 9:00
    pace during a run because this run was hilly and yesterday was not, etc.
    2)I shortened my goal horizon artificially by entering some shorter races so I could simply monitor
    progress toward getting ready for a 5K in 4 weeks instead of looking at the huge 16-18 week
    stretch until marathon.
    3)time passed and because it apparently takes less time to get back into good running fitness after
    a break than it took the first time (or last time), before long I was past that demoralized
    feeling and clicking along and feeling stronger.
    4)I tried to keep in mind that by taking some time off, I almost certainly avoided some kind of
    overtraining injury or burnout. Good luck, just keep going.

    Chris

    nina stoessinger wrote:

    > Some ramblings and I wonder if anyone can relate.
    >
    > Last year (and the year before), every improvement just felt wonderfully precious and wonderful
    > because I was constantly entering new territory. I think that constituted a big part of my
    > positive attitude towards running.
    >
    > Right now, I am happy to improve, I am very happy to have done a 10miler this week, but it's
    > always got that bitter tinge of "I'm still so far from the shape I was in last year". When I run a
    > 9:30 pace and it feels a bit brisk, instead of just being happy that I'm already running faster
    > than the 10:00 of two weeks ago, I'm just thinking about how soon I can expect to return to the
    > 9:00 easy pace of last year. That's a main obstacle to getting back into the positive mindset - I
    > don't yet quite believe in myself as a runner again (which may also be the reason I can't quite
    > withstand the chocolate yet).
    >
    > I keep trying to tell myself this situation is also a gift in a way - I'm able to relive the
    > beginner's steep improvement curve. On the other hand, I can't stop wondering where my running
    > skills and endurance would be now had I not stopped. Anyway, I'd be very happy bout some input
    > here. Has anyone been in a similar situation, and how did you deal with it?
    >
    > cheers, nina
     
  3. nina: I can sure relate. In high school I ran a 9:48 2-mile and a 4:29 1500 and given the chance
    could probably have knocked out a 17:00 5K. Even after a few months of laziness I ran a 10K in
    38:33. So nowadays I'm real slow by comparison.

    More recently I was doing one or two 'thons a year and feeling good about my fitness relative to my
    age. Then last year I didn't train over the winter and got slow again -- my 5K went from 22:30 to
    23:35 and I was feeling frustrated. Eventually I got burned out and took two months off. By the time
    I felt I needed to get back in shape, my 10K was over 55 minutes. Bleah!

    Now I'm doing a lot better, I've lost about 30 pounds and my times are improving beyond where
    they've been the past few years. Part of it was that I joined a gym and had some sessions with a
    personal trainer. I'm working harder to take care of myself too. It felt great watching my race
    times approach, and then pass, last year's and the year before's. That's been my motivation.

    Now I sort-of have the idea that I'm gonna catch up to a local runner who often wins her age group
    in local 5Ks. Even if I don't -- it'd mean shaving another 2-plus minutes off my time -- It's
    something to shoot for.

    So yes, it's tough going over the same ground again and again. Eventually you get to new territory.
    It just takes patience. You can do it, we both know you can. Just accept that there's work involved.

    Good luck!

    --
    Brian P. Baresch Fort Worth, Texas, USA Professional editing and proofreading

    If you're going through hell, keep going. --Winston Churchill
     
  4. Doug Burke

    Doug Burke Guest

    Hey Nina! I think we've all been there. When one gets out of shape due to obligations or laziness or
    some combination thereof and, after a few months, we begin to run again, we naturally use our
    previous fitness level as a barometer as to how we are doing. I've found the only hard part is when
    I start again. I get tired so easily but after a while it all comes together and I'm back to where I
    was. I think taking a significant break now and again is a good thing. It positions one better to
    make running part of a lifestyle habit that will likely be around 20 years from now. Doug Burke

    nina stoessinger wrote:

    > Some ramblings and I wonder if anyone can relate.
    >
    > Last year (and the year before), every improvement just felt wonderfully precious and wonderful
    > because I was constantly entering new territory. I think that constituted a big part of my
    > positive attitude towards running.
    >
    > Right now, I am happy to improve, I am very happy to have done a 10miler this week, but it's
    > always got that bitter tinge of "I'm still so far from the shape I was in last year". When I run a
    > 9:30 pace and it feels a bit brisk, instead of just being happy that I'm already running faster
    > than the 10:00 of two weeks ago, I'm just thinking about how soon I can expect to return to the
    > 9:00 easy pace of last year. That's a main obstacle to getting back into the positive mindset - I
    > don't yet quite believe in myself as a runner again (which may also be the reason I can't quite
    > withstand the chocolate yet).
    >
    > I keep trying to tell myself this situation is also a gift in a way - I'm able to relive the
    > beginner's steep improvement curve. On the other hand, I can't stop wondering where my running
    > skills and endurance would be now had I not stopped. Anyway, I'd be very happy bout some input
    > here. Has anyone been in a similar situation, and how did you deal with it?
    >
    > cheers, nina
     
  5. Cam Wilson

    Cam Wilson Guest

    In article <[email protected]>,
    "nina stoessinger" <[email protected]> wrote:

    > Some ramblings and I wonder if anyone can relate.
    >
    > Last year (and the year before), every improvement just felt wonderfully precious and wonderful
    > because I was constantly entering new territory. I think that constituted a big part of my
    > positive attitude towards running.
    >
    > Right now, I am happy to improve, I am very happy to have done a 10miler this week, but it's
    > always got that bitter tinge of "I'm still so far from the shape I was in last year". When I run a
    > 9:30 pace and it feels a bit brisk, instead of just being happy that I'm already running faster
    > than the 10:00 of two weeks ago, I'm just thinking about how soon I can expect to return to the
    > 9:00 easy pace of last year. That's a main obstacle to getting back into the positive mindset - I
    > don't yet quite believe in myself as a runner again (which may also be the reason I can't quite
    > withstand the chocolate yet).

    I can relate somewhat, Nina. I had to take a lot of time away from running in early winter due to
    injuries. I wanted to really let things heal and rest, rather than rush back into it and have
    problems again. it was tough without the running as a (near) daily regime to keep me positive and
    dealing with stress well. Fortunately, I've learned to love swimming just about as much as running,
    and THAT kept me sane. Now once I began to re-enter the world of running, I felt like a slug and was
    kinda down about it. I wasn't so sure I'd get in shape in time for decent results in my first races
    of the season. I wasn't even sure if I'd have the same enthusiasm for running. I was wrong.

    > I keep trying to tell myself this situation is also a gift in a way - I'm able to relive the
    > beginner's steep improvement curve. On the other hand, I can't stop wondering where my running
    > skills and endurance would be now had I not stopped. Anyway, I'd be very happy bout some input
    > here. Has anyone been in a similar situation, and how did you deal with it?

    I, too, have enjoyed the feeling of working my way back up the ladder. And strangely, on even fewer
    days of running per week, I have reached a level of running fitness that has, in the past, taken me
    most of the summer to achieve. Maybe the cross-training? Maybe the fewer, but better-quality, runs
    are reaping better results due to the greater amount of rest and rebuilding time for the running
    muscles? Whatever the case, I have seen gradual improvement, and have gotten to where I wanted to be
    (or better). You can get back there, too, Nina, if you really want
    it. Don't give up the chocolate altogether... that would rob you of one of the rewards that you'll
    need after a particularly hard run. We need a treat now and then to feel good about ourselves.
    Deprivation doesn't make a happy person.

    I think that stopping running for a while can do the body good. Running every day for years just
    doesn't sound right to me. I know some folks (some in this ng, I believe) have done that... fine.
    But I know that my body begins to wear down and break down with that much of the same repetitive
    movements. And it can get boring, no matter how much you love the sport.

    To deal with the doubts, I began to set goals for myself again. It was nice to be "goal-less" for a
    while, and just go out and run, no time goals or anything, nothing to distract me from just running
    and enjoying the scenery. But eventually, when you want to see greater results and get back to
    fighting shape, some harder work is in order, and it's difficult to maintain THAT kind of regimen
    without some clear goals in mind. Sounds like you are on the right track with a half marathon in
    mind this summer. Maybe a shorter race now and then along the way will keep you keen and primed. Any
    other runners you can hook up with for buddy or group runs?

    Just some thoughts... hope they help.

    Cam
     
  6. Joe Rappa

    Joe Rappa Guest

    Nina,

    Yes, you are not alone with these feelings. I took the winter off and put 10 lbs back on and was
    just about back to square one with my fitness when I started up again this year. This year, however,
    I have started running in March rather than April and am training smarter (following Daniel's
    Running Formula) rather than just winging it. I share the same impatience at getting back to last
    year's peak.

    So far I am dealing with my impatience but setting some ambitious goals and thinking about last
    year's injury experience that I don't want to repeat. I feel happy that I am ahead of last year.
    Plus I am already thinking about next year and how I can minimize my time off during these nasty
    Northeast winters. Obsession is a weird thing.
    :-D

    Good luck!!
     
  7. "Brian Baresch" <[email protected]> wrote:
    >
    > nina: I can sure relate. In high school I ran a 9:48 2-mile and a 4:29 1500 and given the
    > chance could probably have knocked out a 17:00 5K. Even after a few months of laziness I ran a
    > 10K in 38:33.

    *gulp* That's pretty impressive alright. Quite a running history! If I may ask, what made you stop
    back then?

    > Now I'm doing a lot better, I've lost about 30 pounds and my times are improving beyond where
    > they've been the past few years. Part of it was that I joined a gym and had some sessions with a
    > personal trainer.

    Oh, weight training? I'm wanting to get back into that next week, actually did some during the
    winter. I'm always amazed what a very positive body feeling it gives me.

    > So yes, it's tough going over the same ground again and again. Eventually you get to new
    > territory. It just takes patience. You can do it, we both know you can. Just accept that there's
    > work involved.

    Oh, I do. I mean it took a lot more work to get into running in the first place, compared to that,
    it's real easy now :) Patience is a key word - guess now's the time to learn it. :)

    Thanks for the inspirational words, Brian.

    nina
     
  8. "Chris Smith" <[email protected]> wrote...
    >
    > 1)I developed a wide variety of running loops with varying terrain so that I was almost never
    > doing the same type of run twice in a week. Before long, my mind
    stopped
    > comparing how I felt at 9:00 pace during a run because this run was hilly and yesterday was
    > not, etc.

    I do vary my routes right now, in fact I am pretty excited about trying out different loops (also
    because I still don't know all the parts of my new city so very well). I got stuck running the same
    two routes over and over last year, which didn't feel too exciting anymore after a while.

    > 2)I shortened my goal horizon artificially by entering some shorter races so I
    could
    > simply monitor progress toward getting ready for a 5K in 4 weeks instead of
    looking
    > at the huge 16-18 week stretch until marathon.

    Interesting. I've been wondering whether or not it'd be a good idea to race. I'm feeling pretty shy
    about entering a race right now - I can't tell if it'd be a good feeling (as in, I'M BACK) or a bad
    one (as in, I'M SO MUCH SLOWER THAN I USED TO BE)... also because racing really isn't such a
    widespread activity round here and almost everyone who races is a "serious" runner who belongs to
    some club or other, so it's real easy to come in last. :p

    > 3)time passed and because it apparently takes less time to get back into good
    running
    > fitness after a break than it took the first time (or last time), before long I
    was
    > past that demoralized feeling and clicking along and feeling stronger.

    It does, doesn't it? I was amazed today that I could still run a couple of good sub 9:00s and not
    throw up. I've also returned to a halfway decent mileage sooner than I figured. So, yup, it is a
    steep curve, and that's the nice part.

    > 4)I tried to keep in mind that by taking some time off, I almost certainly
    avoided
    > some kind of overtraining injury or burnout.

    Thank you - that's like the bingo input. YES, I WAS BURNING OUT. Yes, apart from being stressed out,
    apart from life getting in the way, apart from other stuff taking precedence, I was getting a bit
    fed up, I guess. Or, running didn't feel so very precious and important anymore. Now, it does,
    again, and seen that way, I actually got something very positive out of that downtime: the will to
    run again, and the love for this wonderful sport. And, I've got all my life to run, so what's a few
    months that I didn't, if they made me continue... :)

    Thanks, again, Chris. I'm getting more and more excited about this 26.2 idea.

    cheers, nina
     
  9. "Doug Burke" <[email protected]> wrote...
    >
    > I've found the only hard part is when I start again. I get tired so easily but
    after
    > a while it all comes together and I'm back to where I was.

    Doug, I've gotta agree that it was much harder 4 weeks or so ago when I was stumbling around doing
    2-3 miles then being totally worn down. Right now I'm already feeling very dedicated and happy again
    about running. 17 miles ain't 34, but it's a serious start.

    > I think taking a significant break now and again is a good thing. It positions
    one
    > better to make running part of a lifestyle habit that will likely be around 20
    years
    > from now.

    Hey, thanks for this input. You know, it hadn't even occurred to me to see my "time-out" as a good
    thing! 4-5 months is probably a bit much for a break, but I restarted now that I felt the urge
    again, and man, it sure is a good feeling that this urge did come through!

    cheers, nina
     
  10. Roger 2k

    Roger 2k Guest

    nina stoessinger wrote in message ... -snip-
    >I keep trying to tell myself this situation is also a gift in a way - I'm
    able to
    >relive the beginner's steep improvement curve. On the other hand, I can't
    stop
    >wondering where my running skills and endurance would be now had I not
    stopped.
    >Anyway, I'd be very happy bout some input here. Has anyone been in a
    similar
    >situation, and how did you deal with it?
    >
    >
    >cheers, nina

    nina,

    I would love to be back in the shape I was last year. I'm also pretty impatient so I found an
    alternative.

    If I can't run my longer races as fast as I could, I want to run shorter distances faster. I've
    learned that with shorter distances you have to do leg exercises to help get your leg speed up.

    I'm quite a bit faster on some of the hills I used to run. I'm sure I could run 400 meters faster
    than I ever have if or when I try that, but I also know, as old as I am, I could lose shape again
    real fast.

    Tuesday I have a 1 mile time trial. I wonder if I can break 6:15 since that is what I did last year
    at this time.

    Thanks, Roger
     
  11. "Joe Rappa" <[email protected]> wrote...
    >
    > Yes, you are not alone with these feelings.

    Man, that feels good :) bring on the soul massage. No, serious.

    > Obsession is a weird thing.
    > :-D

    You know, I'm beginning to think that the very fact that I did start over proves that running has
    indeed become part of who I am, and part of how I want to live. Otherwise, it would have been the
    easiest thing in the world to just quit.

    Thanks for your words, Joe. nina
     
  12. "Roger 2k" <[email protected]> wrote:
    >
    > I would love to be back in the shape I was last year. I'm also pretty impatient so I found an
    > alternative. If I can't run my longer races as fast as I could, I want to run shorter
    > distances faster.

    Roger,

    Cool to hear you've found your perfect alternative. For myself, this probably wouldn't work, since
    I'm really in love with the longer distances. And they won't let me sleep while there's still the
    Big Marathon Mystery waiting for me. :)

    cheers, nina
     
  13. "Cam Wilson" <[email protected]> wrote:
    >
    > was tough without the running as a (near) daily regime to keep me positive and dealing with
    > stress well. Fortunately, I've learned to love swimming just about as much as running, and THAT
    > kept me sane.

    See I started bingeing on chocolate and smoking instead :p

    I bet you came out of your break fitter than I did. But, I don't doubt my return can be quick.

    Oh, and don't worry - I'm not planning to give up chocolate... just to get a sensible grip on it :)

    > I think that stopping running for a while can do the body good.

    That's probably true and a good way of looking at things. I should probably just stop musing over
    the break and what it gave me and what it took away, and go out and run :) although today's a rest
    day. Damn.

    > Maybe a shorter race now and then along the way will keep you keen and primed. Any other runners
    > you can hook up with for buddy or group runs?

    Yeah, there's actually a few people at school who run, I might hook up with them now and
    then. Although I really have preferred to run alone in the past, this might make for an
    interesting change.

    Thanks for the input, Cam. It's good to see I'm far from being alone with this. :)

    nina
     
  14. In article <[email protected]>, nina stoessinger <[email protected]> wrote:
    >Some ramblings and I wonder if anyone can relate.
    >
    Quite a lot. My versions of the things you mention are proving to be obstacles now.

    When I re-started and finally made it stick, I got active at ignoring what I used to be able to do
    (when in high school track). Aside from the reminder that I used to be able to run distance,
    ignore all details of how much and how fast.

    I need to work some on that again, in my recovery from the hiatus involved in last November's
    flu/broncho-pneumonia and December's non-running. I can still hit some of the paces, some of the
    time, but that's more a matter of stubbornness than fitness. I'm trying to back off that and get
    reliable about just getting out and covering ground. I _know_ from many prior demonstrations that
    that's the most important thing for my health, enjoyment, as well as for race times. Nevertheless,
    I've been out only 7 times in the last 2 weeks. (A lot better than sitting on the couch, but not
    the 10 I want, and nowehere near the mileage I want -- many of those 7 are 30-40 minutes, rather
    than 50-60.)

    Just have to keep on with trying to keep at it and nudge the miles and frequency up.

    In the mean time, maybe Sunday's 10k race will help motivate me. It's a fun race, and fun will be
    my reason for being there. My training is nowhere near being able to race it seriously. The
    following Sunday I'll be visiting a friend and running the Flying Pig 10k. Should be fun, and
    maybe the changes of scenery will help me get over whatever barriers are around.

    Anyhow, you're doing better than me with your 10 miler. I haven't been much if any over 10k in the
    last 2 months.

    --
    Robert Grumbine http://www.radix.net/~bobg/ Science faqs and amateur activities notes and links.
    Sagredo (Galileo Galilei) "You present these recondite matters with too much evidence and ease; this
    great facility makes them less appreciated than they would be had they been presented in a more
    abstruse manner." Two New Sciences
     
  15. "Robert Grumbine" <[email protected]> wrote:
    >
    > Anyhow, you're doing better than me with your 10 miler. I haven't been much if any over 10k in
    > the last 2 months.

    I dunno. I only ran 6 times in the last 2 weeks... I think the mileage ain't so much the point, it's
    more about the attitude - once it clicks, the mileage goes up all by itself. Question of course is
    how to make it click. You sound like you yourself don't *believe* you're back in the groove. I felt
    much the same a few weeks ago only I didn't run at all (maybe twice a week a couple of miles). It's
    slowly getting better now that I can feel some fitness return, although I agree about the
    stubbornness factor. But, if we keep stubborn for long enough, the fitness will return!

    Keep at it. Good luck on that race! I'm looking forward to the report. And I wish you a
    "click" soon!

    cheers, nina
     
  16. >*gulp* That's pretty impressive alright. Quite a running history! If I may ask, what made you stop
    >back then?

    Laziness, mainly. I'd joined the track team because I was too slow and unskilled for baseball or
    basketball and too small for football, and I found I was reasonably good at it; but once I got out
    of high school I found I didn't motivate myself well, and I didn't make the cut in college cross
    country, so I started eating pizza and enjoying more cerebral pursuits.

    I still ran a bit but nothing steady for years. I was on track for a marathon in 1997 but strained a
    muscle, then got lazy again. In 1999 I started over, ran a 'thon in 2000 and two more in 2001,
    decided I liked not only the fitness but the race experience -- lots of other people sharing an
    interest with me, many of them nice-looking athletic folks in shorts. ;-)

    >> Now I'm doing a lot better, I've lost about 30 pounds and my times are improving beyond where
    >> they've been the past few years. Part of it was that I joined a gym and had some sessions with a
    >> personal trainer.
    >
    >Oh, weight training? I'm wanting to get back into that next week, actually did some during the
    >winter. I'm always amazed what a very positive body feeling it gives me.

    We didn't go specifically into weights much; mainly we talked about nutrition, weight loss, and
    running-specific workouts such as intervals and core strengthening. After a couple of months I'd
    lost about 20 pounds and the woman who'd sold me the membership remarked on the contrast in how
    energetic I seemed. More motivation!

    >Oh, I do. I mean it took a lot more work to get into running in the first place, compared to that,
    >it's real easy now :) Patience is a key word - guess now's the time to learn it. :)

    God grant me patience, and right now! ;-)

    >Thanks for the inspirational words, Brian.

    You, nina, inspire me. I'm always glad to return the favor.

    --
    Brian P. Baresch Fort Worth, Texas, USA Professional editing and proofreading

    If you're going through hell, keep going. --Winston Churchill
     
  17. "Brian Baresch" <[email protected]> wrote...
    >
    > I still ran a bit but nothing steady for years. I was on track for a marathon in 1997 but
    > strained a muscle, then got lazy again. In 1999 I started over, ran a 'thon in 2000 and two more
    > in 2001 [snip]

    Ah, the eternal "on/off" journey. I can see myself heading for a similar destiny
    :)

    Thanks for sharing your story. Quite a bit of up and down there, and see how great you're doing now.
    *That* is inspirational! :p

    > After a couple of months I'd lost about 20 pounds and the woman who'd sold me the membership
    > remarked on the contrast in how energetic I seemed. More motivation!

    Reminds me of my gym back in Switzerland - they have this instant motivation device at the
    entrance... in other words, when you put in your membership chip to enter, your photo is displayed
    on a screen. And they still have that photo of me when I first joined the gym at something above 200
    pounds. ;) Makes me feel very thin and fit every time I go there.

    > God grant me patience, and right now! ;-)

    Exactly. *g*

    My most recent discovery in the field of patientology *g* is that there are different kinds of
    patience - being patient and "strong" on a journey while steadily reaping rewards, without ever
    questioning the path, is easier (like I did last year when I lost 55 pounds) than finding the way to
    live that truly works for me, to find out what I want and is good for me rather than what I "should"
    do. Ah, onwards on my quest.

    cheers, nina
     
Loading...
Loading...