Personal Runner Confessions: The Uphill Climb Back

March 6, 2020: That was the day the COVID closures started being announced. My youngest’s pre-school was taking a break, my oldest was going to get an extra week of spring break. A week later, I was laid off from my job, along with all other part-time and seasonal employees at my company. The pre-school was closing (for good, it turned out), and school for the older kiddo would be virtual the rest of the year (and beyond). To say I was upset was a huge understatement.

I am sure each and every one of you can recall exactly what happened to you that eventful week, and while it’s not great to dwell, it’s important to look back to see how far you’ve come. Back then, I felt sorry for myself and I did what many runners did: I ran more. I was doing great … until I wasn’t. By November even a short run left me with pain in my hip and stiffness that cautioned increases to mileage. I cut back on my running, it got darker earlier, and rained more often, group runs were all cancelled, and I let the national news get me down. I basically stopped running, going only once or twice a week. I even stopped posting on Run Oregon!

By early March 2021 I was ready to make a change. I’d gained so much weight that I decided to go big. I started meeting with a nutrition counselor at My Fit Foods and for six weeks I ate only what we included in my plan (which didn’t include any beer until the 7th week). I started working with strength coach Matt De Jesus twice a week, and making frequent use of my rowing machine. I got some more weights and resistance bands, did weekly Zoom barre classes with T’s Garage, and have been steadily increasing my muscle mass, reducing my body fat, and getting stronger. I feel much better about my health and fitness, and while life isn’t back to normal, I have a schedule in place that works for me.

Being laid off, watching your kids struggle with distance learning, and living in the scary environment of a global pandemic isn’t easy for anyone. But if you can start a routine and stick with it for one week, then two, then a month … you can get back to where you were or where you want to be.

It’s okay to not run for a while. It’s fine to start slow, or start small. It’s normal to feel a little silly pretending your basement or garage is a workout facility. And it’s okay to ask for help – I encourage it! Having people who know what they’re talking about and are cheering for you make even the smallest victories exciting. They also help you look for the gains and not just the problem staring you in the face – if I didn’t lose any weight between visits to My Fit Foods, they’d point to my InBody scan results that showed I’d lost fat but gained muscle.

The bloggers are Run Oregon are cheering for you. Maybe you could try a Couch to 5k and get ready for the Winter 5k Series, just announced for this year from Run with Paula? (Both Nikki and I will be at the races, come join us!) Or if you want to try working with a coach or mixing up your nutrition, you should go for it. There’s no reason to wait until the weather gets icky to get a motivational boost.

About Kelly Barten (1152 Articles)
I started the Run Oregon blog in February 2007, because I felt like running in Oregon and SW Washington deserved more positive coverage. I also wanted to level the playing field so that small, non-profit races could compete with big events; and to support LOCAL race organizers. I'm a Creighton Bluejay (undergrad) and an Oregon Duck (Sports Marketing MBA), and I live in Tigard with my husband and two kids. My "real job" is working for an incredibly awesome math textbook company doing marketing and production.

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