For the last six weeks I have been going to the gym. I haven't been a member of a gym for the last decade (wow, that makes me feel old), but having reached a complete lull in my running, and lacking in motivation to get out the door and do some exercise, I thought the gym might be helpful.
In many ways, the gym has been very helpful. To be able to see the distance I am travelling, to have a program to stick to, and push myself beyond it when I feel able, to feel the burn in places that haven't felt it for a long while - all of these elements have been helpful for me.
When you have a considerable break from running, there is always that feeling of dread in going back to it. You know it won't be easy at first. You know you will feel like you are dragging your body kicking and screaming, and the only thing that's keeping you going is that tiny piece of will power that has got you out the door in the first place. I have found going back to running on a treadmill, rather than outdoors, has been good for me. Rather than worrying about how long I'm running for, the end has always been in sight, because I've only been doing 15 minute stints. In having this short length of time as my window, the running feels contained, like it's not going to get away from me. I feel like this has freed me up to push myself in different ways - to build up speed and keep it sustained. I have been disciplined with it, and set myself little challenges each time I run, to go that little bit further and a little bit faster. And it has worked.
Yesterday, I ran outside for the first time in a few months. While I knew I'd have a more sustained and harder workout at the gym, I also felt like I needed to fill my lungs with fresh air and to be surrounded by green trees as I ran, rather than walls. For the first time in a long time, I felt like I could run forever. It didn't feel like I needed to stop and lie down after 3 minutes, and I wanted to keep going. I didn't know how long I'd run for, or where I'd go, and that didn't bother me in the slightest. It felt like the good old days, and I loved it.
Note to self: I've just looked back at the posts I've written on running, and in nearly every single one, I mention the mental battles I faced. Even at my running peak, I would find it hard, and this is helpful to know. It also makes me think that I did not write enough about the good running times, because I know there have been plenty.