12 Nov

First Run Back

Chris Broadbent

It hurt. Man, it hurt (writes Chris Broadbent). I went out for my first run in three weeks at the weekend. To be honest, it was a real struggle. Like many runners do, I had taken some time out after running a marathon. Partly, to recover and partly to reward myself.

I had made the most of the opportunity. I rested. I sat slovenly and guilt-free in front of the TV in the evenings. I also ate and drank well. When I say ‘well’, I don’t mean healthily, but plentifully and without prejudice. No more restrictions on treats. No more obsessing over calories or carbohydrates.

The midweek bottle of wine also made a welcome return. But, I knew it was temporary. Maybe that’s why I let things go so? It also meant that my first run back would be that bit tougher. It was. Even though I have been a runner now for over 10 years, I am still taken aback by just how hard that first run back is.

The fitness you have spent months and months building up, just seems to disappear in a matter of weeks. To be honest, I probably bit off a little more than I could chew. But I chose a Saturday morning 10 mile run with some club-mates for my return to training.

It was a well-worn route and with that familiarity brings a little comfort. Maybe it’s just me, but if I know the route and I have ran it before, it just seems that bit shorter. It was when we reached the first hill that I first felt it.

It was humbling to say the least. This hill that I had been bombing up five or six weeks prior was now a real grind. I was like a beginner, really having to grit my teeth to stop myself from walking. The guys who had been left in my wake weeks ago were now jogging back to help me.

Running has a great way of keeping you grounded. We all need to recover and recuperate. And when you have a mountain to climb - be it a marathon or your first ever 5k - there’s only one place to start and that’s at the bottom.