I have seven weeks until Burlington’s Chilly Half Marathon and nine until the New York City Half Marathon. I also have zero base – squat. Covid does that to you.
But since my official return to sport, I have had 2 slow runs (8K and 10K) and one 30k ride on Zwift. I feel like I’m going to be okay to run the 21.1K distance in March – not to race it, but to run.
Fortunately for me (or not), I have several running friends who have had Covid. I watched them strugggle when they first started running again. I saw some trying to push themselves before their bodies were ready and they got frustrated because running was laborious, their times were off, or both. I’ve seen two friends try to resume to their typical fitness activities, only to be later diagnosed with pneumonia. I do not want pneumonia; I have had it several times and getting it a fourth time would be a major setback. So I need to be careful, which means that I need a slow, gradual return to running.
Yesterday, during my second run, I had 3 things to think about: my goal, my hope and my focus. My goal was to run – just run; it was as simple as that. I hoped that I would be able to cover 10K and I thought that I was strong enough to handle it. If things didn’t feel right, I was prepared to bail and head home. Lastly, I focused on pacing. I typically run my long runs between a 5:00 to 5:15 pace, so I felt that I should be around 5:30 to 5:40, maybe even slower. My first kilometre was 5:53, likely a GPS issue rather than cautious pacing, and the rest hovered around 5:15. I clearly missed my pace target but I felt great when I finished which, I suppose, is what really matters.
Now that I have one decent run in the books, I have my starting point for my March half-marathons and somewhat of a more definitive plan in place. First, I will run the Robbie Burns race this week without trying to race it. With a 3 km warm-up, the race and a cooldown, I’ll get a good long run in – a long run with a tempo in the middle. From there, I will increase my long run 1-2 km every week to build towards the 21.1km distance. If recovery goes well, I’ll start some shorter speed sessions at the end of February. Right now, it is important that I focus on my distance build, not speed, but that may change as my training progresses.
At the same time, I will continue to work on endurance with cycling and swimming. Since the beginning of January, I have only had a few rides on Zwift and I haven’t even been back in the pool. But, by the end of this week, I expect to be at the point where I can look at these disciplines more purposefully.
If you want to do something well, you have to commit to putting in the time and effort. Time is on my side and my committment is always present so the effort will follow. What I really need right now is a huge dose of patience while I am getting back to where I want to be – chasing my dreams.