Patience. I wrote about the importance of this last week as I outlined the first phase of my comeback journey and this week I have had to remind myself of those words.
“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.”
This week as I pushed through tempo workouts and struggled on longer runs, I couldn’t help but feel I wasn’t making the progress I had been hoping for. “What’s going on? Why am I struggling to hit the race pace I had hit more than a month ago? Shouldn’t I be further ahead at this point?” At one point these words moved from thoughts to my mouth. As I was hammering out 10 kilometres on the treadmill (yes, that’s quickly becoming a reality here in Saskatchewan as winter hits) I looked over to my coach in frustration – and, as I struggled to hit my pace, I expressed my frustration. I didn’t get much of response from her – she knows me well enough to know I was simply frustrated in the moment and would later remind me that we knew there would be times during this comeback when I wouldn’t see the progress as quickly as I want and that I would have to “be patient” and “trust the plan.”
So, I banked that. I reminded myself to respect the process and I found some solace in watching American runner Kara Goucher go through her own lesson in patience last week following the New York City Marathon where she hit the wall for the first time in her career. In a comeback of her own, the 36-year-old mother has been very candid about her disappointment in that day. She had run the Philadelphia Half-Marathon six weeks prior, which was the first race of her comeback after 16 months away from racing. She ran it fast and then took the next six weeks to finish her preparation for New York City. She was confident going in. She was ready to run a 2:28. Only she went out too fast on a wildly windy, cold day that took its toll. She crossed the finish line in tears, not the big performance she had anticipated. In her blog after the race, aptly titled “A Bitter Sweet Return,” Kara wrote about the race and the healing that’s gone on since the race.
“Am I disappointed? Of course! But I am not regretful, and that means I can move on toward bigger and better things. The hard part is that I know I can run 2:28 right now, and unfortunately I can’t show that. The marathon isn’t like the 1,500m or even the 5K. I can’t go back out there two weeks from now and prove it to everyone. But I don’t have to prove it to myself. I know the work I did, the preparation I had. I know what I am capable of. Even though I didn’t get to show it on Sunday, I know who I am. And I am worlds ahead of where I was at this time last year — I am healthy and I am strong.”
The whole blog is worth a read! She speaks wholeheartedly about her process and the patience it requires to continue to see the big picture.