Updated: Sep 28
17th May 2023 - the day I started Couch to 5km to kickstart my return to running. I made a run date with my best friend (and her toddler in the buggy!) and we run/walked our way around one and three quarter miles of local streets. Whilst it felt great to be back, the running was tough! I was heavy, slow and wheezy! I was unfit!
I was super-conscious of the areas which had been operated on which pulled slightly as the run progressed, and knew I needed to take things real gently. My body... my recovery... my pace. Progress was, as per the C25K programme, slow and steady.
As part of my initial recovery period, I had been speed-walking Parkrun some weeks but on 20th May I was able to do a few short jogs in the middle section. I felt like I was at least back 'running' Parkrun, which felt more like the old me (despite it actually being slower than the fastest of my Parkwalks!)
I enlisted the help of every running friend I could call upon to keep me company during these initial slow plods and, despite not yet falling back in love with running, it was lovely to be back out with some running friends.
Normal life was starting to resume.
We holidayed in Cornwall at the end of May and I was able to run, and do some very long and tricky coastal walks, whilst we were away. I even managed a short bodyboarding session! I was still paranoid about doing anything to set back my recovery but was making progress.
Through June, July and August that progress was very slow and very steady. Whilst I could see occasional progressive improvements in the distance I was covering and the pace I was moving at, it was still (relatively) short and slow. It was hard to stay positive and, often, it was tough just getting out for a run 3 or 4 times per week, even though each run was only a couple of miles long! I wasn't recovering all that well either, so my legs were continually tired. It felt like I was constantly beating myself up for no return.
Blood tests showed that my Testosterone levels had hit the floor (most female Testosterone is made in the ovaries, so this was no surprise), so it was agreed by my GP that I should try supplemental Testosterone for a few months to see if that helped. I am delighted to say that it did!
Over the last month, I have started to see more glimmers of improvement. I am recovering from runs better (massage definitely helps in this regard - thanks Dory), I am moving at a slightly faster pace, and I can now cover 5 or 6 miles non-stop on a good day. I am trying not to beat myself up over how slowly the progress is being made - I keep reminding myself that my body will guide me in how hard I can push and how soon - but it is hard not to draw constant comparisons between where I used to be, and where I now am.
I have a 10 mile off-road event booked for October, which will be a massive challenge and my longest run since the op. I am hoping to put in a couple of runs of between 7 and 9 miles before then but I know I will be woefully under-prepared. But the cut-off seems generous enough to allow me some walk breaks if I need them, and it will be a great stepping stone back towards the half marathon I have also put in the diary for the start of December.
You may recall that I had started with Body Balance sessions when I first started the recovery journey, and I am proud, and somewhat amazed, to say that I am now somewhat hooked on Body Balance, Yoga, Pilates, and stretch sessions. Throughout the hard last few months, they have provided me with something in which I could feel I was making progress. I currently average about 3 sessions per week of these gentler strength, stretch and mobility sessions plus one or two other classes (Body Attack, Body Combat, Core etc) per week on top of about 3 runs. It's a different training pattern to the more run-heavy schedule I was used to pre-op, but it suits me right now and will hopefully help to spring-board me back to full fitness. I am hoping to start to add some cycling (outdoor and indoor) over the coming months to help with the cardio and leg strength too. I will keep you posted.
In the meantime, however, if you fancy a really really slow run (with plenty of walk breaks!) let me know! I'd love the company!