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The comeback begins

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Up until this September I hadn’t participated in competitive sport in more than 13 years.

Busy with a career, I didn’t realize this was creating a huge void — I missed competing and all that came along with being an athlete. It was on a trip to San Diego this May when I realized, “I need to do that again.”

My competitive sporting days peaked in 1998 when I won the first-ever CIS (then CIAU) national championship in women’s hockey with Concordia University. There was a quasi-season that followed, but that was riddled with concussion symptoms which ultimately ended my hockey career.

Flash forward more than a decade and here I am running with the intention of stepping back into that competitive world. I’ve always loved to run, whether it was part of the many sports I played growing up, trotting through the farm fields in Ladner, B.C., as child, or later in training for hockey along the empty gravel roads surrounding boarding school at The Athol Murray College of Notre Dame in Saskatchewan. Over the past few years I started running again as a release — nothing too intense. It’s just something that’s always come naturally and I’ve enjoyed doing.

It was the revelation I had in San Diego that proved to be the game changer. When I returned home at the end of May, I started a 13-week training program in preparation for the Mogathon half-marathon here in Saskatoon. I had no idea how my body was going to respond to the training or to the race, but so far it’s been positive.

I took to the starting line on Sept. 20 and I completed the 21.1K in 1:39:40 – earning a first place female finish overall. It was a beautiful day! My body and mind responded well — the first round of training had worked, but I knew there was much more ahead.

I’m now working toward chopping a good chunk of time off that 1:39:40 with my sights set on the Fort Langley Historical Half-Marathon in February. For the next couple of months, my training will focus on speed and strength and I’ll be capping it off with a mock 10K race in December to test it out.

So for now, here’s to the next round of training!

Five things I’ve learned so far about coming back:

  1. Patience. Coming back doesn’t happen overnight. High-level athletes tend to be results-driven and there’s nothing wrong with that (that’s what goals are for), but I have learned you don’t get to where you want to be overnight. My first round of training was really very much about foundational work, which I will still be focusing on in this second round of training as well – it’s all about the process.
  2. Support. For those of us who come from a team sport background we know support is generally built in. As a solo endeavor, running requires a great deal of self motivation, but nobody does it all on their own. Here in Saskatoon we have a great running club at a local store, Brainsport. It gave me a good butt kicking every Wednesday night over my first 13 weeks of training and also allowed me to get accustomed to running alongside other people in preparation to start racing. I also have New Balance to thank for supporting me as I enter this second round of training.
  3. Coaching. Any time you’re looking to reach your potential it’s inevitable, you have to get into the nitty-gritty of technique, training schedules, nutrition, etc. I had some knowledge coming into training from my athletic background, but I’ve come to understand the importance of having someone who knows their stuff guiding the way. This proved key not only in training, but in race preparation and the race as well.
  4. Wellbeing. Proper nutrition and adequate amounts of sleep continue to be major factors in keeping healthy and getting my body into performance mode. There was a quite a bit of trial and error going on in my first round of training as I worked to find what works best for me. And, as I up the intensity of my training, sleep is becoming increasingly important to staying healthy and strong.
  5. Feel it. Through all of the lessons I’ve learned so far, I often remind myself of why I am doing this: I love to run!