This is your time. This is your shot. Make the most of this by looking inward, and having the confidence to trust the results from that focus.
Making a return to sport after a hiatus, intended or not, is more difficult than anyone ever tells you it will be. The motivation to train again is rarely an issue when given the green light as those words are music to an athlete's ears. However, at times it needs to be reined in to ensure an overzealous athlete's determination doesn't cause another setback.
Regaining physical fitness is a slow and tedious task that requires a lot of patience. Months of forming a necessary foundation on which to build, takes time. It's never a straight line trajectory back to full form. The spirals of training will take you all over the place while on a net upwards trend. Just know that every piece of training makes for a stronger and fitter body.
The biggest piece of the puzzle that isn't as obvious, is how much harder it is to rebuild your mental game. Confidence trickles back at a much slower rate, and can disappear just as quickly as it appears. Celebrating small victories will help you stay on track. But the emotional highs and lows can be far more draining than any hard training session. The mind can make or break an athlete, and needs to conditioned just as much as the muscles that carry you through a run.
Since the start of the year, the focus of training has been to regain some leg speed, have fun, and learn how to navigate through a new style of coaching that forced me to trust, and realize I can't always get what I want. Colin's voice of reason can elicit a hot-headed emotional reaction, but after a few deep breaths and a step back, I return to the conversation knowing he's always right.
Focusing on shorter distances at the start of the year required less mileage, but more intensity, and it left me exhausted. We were starting from ground zero, and it was bloody hard. To mix things up, I competed in a few indoor track races: the 800m, 1500m and mile events. I now have a deeper respect for middle distance athletes. I'll take a marathon over the 800m any day!
That being said, it was a fantastic reintroduction into competition. I started to relearn how to race and go into a new world of discomfort; I relearned where my mental strengths and weaknesses lie; and I fell in love with my flashy neon spikes again. I am by no means back in full form, but I know that everything I've done so far will help in the long run (no pun intended).
After the culmination of our "indoor track season", I was given the go-ahead to head home for the annual Fool's Run. This half marathon is what kick-started my running career, and will always have a special place in my heart. Not having trained for a half marathon, I went into the race with minimal expectations, just wanting to support the community that has supported me. On a beautiful day, that hilly course shifted something inside me. Whether it was the sunshine, the familiar territory, the local crowds cheering for me, or running with my nephew in the Jester Dash, I felt my heart exploding with joy. I knew that in more ways than one, I was home.