Dealing with a Setback

I’m finally back in Santa Barbara, and thankful to be back in warmer weather and in close proximity to the ocean. Not to mention getting back to eating healthy and back on a good routine. As soon as Jeremy and I landed in Los Angeles, my mom took us to Real Food Daily, a vegetarian (although almost everything on the menu is vegan) restaurant in Santa Monica. It was just what I needed.

We started with the Sea Cake: Butternut squash, yam and sea vegetable croquette, with pesto and sweet chili aioli. It had the consistency of a crab cake, one of our favorite dishes, and it was so tasty.

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For the entree, I ordered the Great Cardini: Tuscan kale, romaine lettuce, garbanzo beans, red quinoa, and roasted yam croutons with creamy almond shallot dressing, avocado, spiced pumpkin seeds and macadamia parmesan. A huge bowl of goodness.

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For dessert, Jeremy and I shared a vegan chocolate chip cookie, which kind of had the consistency of cake. It was delicious. From their website: “Our pastries are vegan and made with organically grown ingredients by our in-house pastry chef.” Everything on the menu looked amazing, and I can’t wait to go back and eat there again.

The Setback

As I’ve mentioned, I’ve been sick. It’s still lingering, and I am doing my best to not let it discourage me and remind myself that I will feel 100% again soon. As far as my training goes, there’s only four weeks until the Mermaid Series Half Marathon, where I was hoping to break two hours for the first time. I have to be realistic, and having taken almost two weeks off, I need to rethink my goals. I went out for a four-mile run yesterday, telling myself to take it real easy and just see how I felt. I was preparing for the worst, but in the back of my mind I kept thinking, I bet it won’t be that bad. Well, it was. I honestly felt like I’d never run before and I was worn out within a few minutes. I kept going, and finished four miles, but it was so tough. Thinking that it couldn’t possibly get worse, I went out this morning for a slow five miles. And it was definitely worse. I was plugging along, at least two minutes slower per hour than normal, and I had zero energy, and felt like I was just starting out again. I seriously forgot how hard running used to be, which is easy to do when you have been so consistent and you continuously work on increasing your mileage. But I ran nine miles just two weeks ago and it felt so easy, I kept telling myself, how could this be possible?

I came across this article that talks about how much fitness you lose when you take time off:

Research shows you shouldn’t be too worried about losing significant fitness if your break from running is less than two weeks.

You’ll lose some conditioning in your aerobic system and muscles, but pre-inactivity fitness will return quickly. Again, this assumes that you have built a healthy and consistent base of training of 4-6 months prior to taking time off. It’s not the end of your career if you haven’t been training for this long; it simply means that the reduction in fitness will be slightly more pronounced.

After two weeks of not training, significant reductions in fitness begin to occur and you’ll have about 2-8 weeks of training (depending on the length of inactivity) ahead of you to get back to your previous level of fitness.

Since I’m just about at that two-week mark, I feel hopeful that my fitness will return quickly, but also worried because I definitely don’t have 2 weeks to spare to solely get back to where I was before. I guess I just feel like I shouldn’t feel this horrible while running if I’m going to catch up quickly.

This link has a list of tips on how to get back into training after taking some time off, and I found it really helpful. Obviously, every person’s body is different, so it’s not a one-size-fits-all situation, but I’m going to take some of this advice, and hopefully I’ll be back to normal soon.

If missed training time is ten to fifteen days:

At this point, you’ve missed a decent amount of training and it’s going to take you a couple of weeks to feel back to normal and be ready to train at your previous intensity and volumes.

  • Start with three easy days of running at 60-70 percent of your normal mileage, increasing 10-15 percent each day. Include strides and hill sprints. Your first workout after this three days should be similar to the fartlek mentioned previously.
  • After this introductory fartlek, run easy (or rest if you normally have rest days scheduled) for two days at your normal easy run mileage. Then, try this workout: 12 x 400 meters at 5k-8k pace with a quick (steady pace) 45 second or 100 meter jog recovery. This workout has you running quick, which helps turn the legs over, but the short, moving rest will also make it a challenging endurance session. Plus, it’s only 3 miles in volume, so you won’t over extend yourself.

After these two introductory workouts, you should be all set to jump back into your regular training mileage and intensities.

It’s easy to let a setback deter and discourage you (which happened to me back in college, and I ended up quitting running altogether), but I’m just going to try to stay positive and keep on trucking, and hope my fitness returns to normal soon. The good news is that I think Jeremy and I are going to stay in town until March 9th so I can run the San Diego Half Marathon, which I’m already registered for. This course is not nearly as flat as the Mermaid Half, so it will be harder to achieve the sub-two hour time, but I’m remaining hopeful.

I’m curious, how has everyone dealt with setbacks in the past? Any advice would be appreciated!

10 comments

  1. Yum, that food looks amazing!

    I haven’t run since Sunday, but after getting sick and taking 2 weeks off I’m definitely still lagging. It’s cold and flu season and a lot of people seem to be in the same boat. Try not to get too discouraged, your fitness will return! I took 6 weeks off over the summer and I had a lot of fitness to rebuild, but I think I returned a stronger runner than I was before.

    Regarding the San Diego Half Marathon, sometimes hilly courses can work in your favor-the uphill is slower but you can make up a lot of time on the downhill. My PR’s are in San Francisco and this place is hill central!

    1. That’s a really good point! I remember last year in the SD Half there was one huge hill and it really wasn’t that bad, and it was all downhill to the finish line after that. Thanks for your encouraging words!

    1. It’s really such a beautiful place! I feel lucky I grew up here and my family lives here so I’ll always be visiting often, even after we move. We’re talking about moving to San Francisco next year; at least it’s not too far away!

      You’re right, keeping a positive mental attitude is probably the most important thing you can do, thank you! My run this morning already felt a whole lot better.

  2. I totally hear you! This past wknd I tried transitioning back to the road from the treadmill during my long run (split 8 miles into 4 on the road, 4 on the ‘mill), and it wasn’t easy. However, I wasn’t as sore I thought I’d be, either. My best piece of advice would be to just keep plugging along, it’s a little harder to get your fitness back when you haven’t been running for a while, but as long as you continue to work at it, it will be easier.
    🙂

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