The first run after a hiatus from running can be punishing or elating, depending on the kind of shape you’re in. When I returned from my college semester in Ghana, I’d been excercising a LOT (as in dancing barefoot in the tropical heat for 4-5 hours a day), but I’d also been eating Redred nearly everyday, which is delicious fried ripe plantains and blackeyed peas drowning in palm oil, and looks like this:
I’d been wearing adjustable wrap skirts the whole time I was there, so it was a shock to my system when I came home and found that none of my jeans fit. When I tried to go for a run, I felt like I was wading through wet concrete carrying a backpack full of books. The combination of gaining ten or fifteen pounds and not having run for four months (aside from a few sorry attempts through dirt roads in the jungle) made getting back into running shape a torturous affair.
Until last Sunday, I hadn’t been on a real run in over a month. I’d cross country skiied in Montana, and biked twenty miles in Panama, but I hadn’t hit the pavement in all that time. It turns out that in spite of my budding Buddhabelly, I’d been keeping active enough over the past month that running for the first time on Sunday actually felt pretty good. I was having trouble motivating, so I decided to combine my jog with errands, which for some reason, I never have trouble motivating to do.
I got a ziploc, put some essentials like money and keys in there, and saftey-pinned it into my pocket, and took off for the ATM, about half a mile downhill from my house. I was feeling pretty good, so I decided to jog another half mile up Grand, by the lake. I stopped at a post office box and mailed some letters I was carrying with me – a photo collage for my grandma and a check to my dad, who’d graciously wired me money during my time of need in Panama.
I was feeling so light and bouncy and fast and free that I decided to run to the top of a hill, then begin to turn it around, so as not to overdo it. I bounded back down Lakeshore and stopped in at a Walgreen’s, where I bought a few lightweight items I’d been needing, then headed home.
It was one of those runs where, even though I’d gone two or three miles, I felt like I had cheated somehow because it was so easy and I was barely out of breath or noticing the strain in my muscles. I felt like I could go out and do it all over again…
I’m glad I didn’t, because I woke up the next day sore EVERYWHERE. Including my abs and my arms. Determined not to let the soreness stop me, I decided to go out for another jog/errands combo today. I ran around my neighborhood, then down to Trader Joe’s to pick up some groceries (then walk back home). It was… arduous, to say the least. I think I went about three-quarters of a mile before I wanted to turn around. EPIC RUN FAIL.
The lesson is one I’ve learned a dozen times: it is really, really easy to get out of running shape. It only takes a week or two. Maybe next time I go on vacation (i.e. in 2015), I’ll try to sneak in at least one jog.