My Return To Running

One day can make all the difference.

Sometimes it takes no more than a single run to remember that hard work pays off.

Thankfully, that run came today, just when I needed it most.

After nearly 4 weeks off, my longest break in the past 9 years, the 26K San Tan Scramble marked my return to running. While these desert trail races are fun, they aren’t easy — especially after an extended layoff and no miles on the legs.

But I knew the views would be worth it.

In addition, a short time in the desert usually restores my motivation, and helps break up winter training to give me the fortitude to power through weeks of cold. For the rest of the day, though, I hobbled around sore and battered.

A few more days running on the paths and canals in the Valley of the Sun helped rejuvenate my legs and lungs, but an 8-miler presented some doubts.

On paper, 2016 proved to be an amazing year — 5 marathons, including a Boston qualifier, and placing for my age division in a desert trail series — but also brought about a significant injury.

Despite the pain, I ran a full slate of fall races, including the Twin Cities 10 Mile, Fargo Mini Marathon and 2 marathons. By early December, a month after the New York City Marathon, I was ready for a break — and hoped time away would provide enough recovery to resume training.

The San Tan Scramble may have been humbling, but it was an 8-miler along the canal that reminded me that I wasn’t back to full strength. If anything, it would be a long road to recovery and running form through additional core and flexibility exercises. If I’m lucky, that will avoid surgery and give me time to train for key races this year.

My hopes seemed dim after that 8-miler, but then today came along. Feeling loose and upright, I slipped onto a trail and pushed the pace. Just one day earlier, I plodded along slouched over. Today I ran tall and bounced along the concrete.

Maybe the extra work is beginning to pay off.