Lessons from a lazy summer

Sarah McBride
4 min readSep 4, 2018

Turns out it’s really hard to run after taking 12 weeks off training.

I’ve always been fit and active. Throughout school I was on the field hockey team, ran cross country in the winter and track in the summer and, during my placement year in Paris, fell in love with long distance running as I spent my weekends weaving through tourists as my training doubled up as an exploration of the city and its historic sites.

You could say that I took my fitness for granted. I could go weeks without putting on my running shoes and I’d always have enough residual fitness and strength in my legs and lungs to hit the road after a lengthy break and still clock 5km with only limited pain.

And then came the Summer of 2018.

I spent May holed up in my room studying for finals, June recovering from the emotional trauma of it all, July “on holiday”, and August suffering from a hellish summer cold (and working on all these excuses). I came into the final week of August absolutely F E D U P with my inactivity and laziness, which had now transcended my training routine and into my daily routine, where sitting down to work each day became a mental battle.

So on August 28th I pulled on my Nikes, took a couple of puffs of my Ventolin inhaler for good measure and set out with the grand ambition of running 3km. The pain that followed is something that I have never felt before. I told myself it was just a bad day. That I hadn’t warmed up properly. That the weather wasn’t right. I went out again 2 days later with the same route in mind. Once more after about 30 seconds of running my legs felt like dead weight, my stride was all over the place, my lungs felt like they were collapsing and I started wondering if you could have a heart attack from going for a jog??

A tale of two Sarahs

I returned home (stopping for a breather every 30 seconds and waiting10 minutes for my breathing to return to normal) and immediately addressed the issue with my parents, both of whom have run their fair share of marathons in their lifetime (#legends #goals). My dad told me to “stick at it”. My mum simply explained that I’m unfit, that running is hard and that you have to start somewhere. At her running club, she hosts a group of running newbies who follow a 12-week program to build them up to running 5km. And here I was able to run/walk 3km straight off the bat. That’s the perspective I needed.

tbt to track days

So lesson no. 1 from this lazy summer is to be more self-aware and to understand the relationship between work and results. Self-awareness in the sense of recognising my low level of fitness and tailoring my expectations of how far and how fast I can run as a result. But also self-awareness in the sense of understanding the importance of looking after my health and wellbeing, recognising the negative effect of not doing so and not allowing myself to go so long again without training. And finally self-awareness in the sense of understanding that fitness is a commitment and not something that I can just take for granted. I don’t think my “residual fitness” ever existed — I had actually always stayed active in between my runs vs, for the first time this summer, genuinely doing nothing for 12 weeks.

Which leads to lesson no. 2 from this lazy summer: making a commitment to improving fitness and wellbeing requires discipline. So I’ve decided to make a pledge to myself: a commitment to getting fit and staying fit. A pledge to re-build my discipline and reap the rewards that come with it, both in my health and wellbeing, as well as in my professional life. I miss being able to run as far as I want, as fast as I want. I miss feeling energized. I miss having mental clarity. I miss getting shit done. And I have a feeling that they all go hand-in-hand.

So this is a pledge: to commit to my training. To my running. To my wellbeing. And step 1 is finding a way to keep myself accountable, hence telling the 6 people who read my Medium posts. I’ll be posting my runs on Strava, so if you want to have a laugh at how slow I am you can follow me here. And finally, I hope this post (and hopefully the posts to come) can serve as motivation or reassurance to others, whether seasoned athletes or first-time runners, that running is tough, but you’ve got to start somewhere.

#RunSarahRun

Read the next post in this series on my move to NYC and running around Williamsburg: Conquering 5km

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Sarah McBride

Comms + ice cream @ Zenly. Writing about organic marketing & Gen Z musings.