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A Year in Running

What does a year in running look like? It looks like everything you can imagine. It looks like grinding days of just getting it done, like countless steps, and puddles of sweat. The highs are great, it seems like they can go on forever, and the lows can seem insurmountable.

But all that effort leads to something—something to be learned from every stage along the way—about running, fitness, and, most importantly, yourself. No matter what kind of runner you are, even if you’re not a runner at all, I think you will find yourself in a year of running.

My year in running started (or the last one ended) at the 2017 Colfax Marathon this last May. It was a gorgeous, typical Denver day and one of the most perfect days of running I’ve ever put together.

It was the culmination of many long runs, interval training, a good taper, good nutrition, and then some luck. I felt so good on marathon day (except the last 4 miles of course!), that it seemed like all that hard work should not just end on that one beautiful day.

It seemed like I should just keep going, maintain my gains, stay with it. Keep up the momentum. And I kind of did…for about a week.

It takes a lot of time to train for a marathon and so just thinking of having some extra free time, more time for work and more time with the family, was just way too enticing. It’s just too easy to dial it back down, ease up a little, shorten up the daily run, slow it down, eat a little dessert.

That’s when I remembered what I have learned a hundred times before: it takes months of training to ramp up and get in shape for a marathon, but it seems like it takes about 5 minutes to go right back to baseline. You’re back to huffing and puffing through a 4 or 5 mile run like you’ve never done it before. And that’s exactly what happened. Before long, it seemed like I was starting from scratch, or even before scratch.

So, it begins—another year in running with lots of lessons to learn. Some lessons I have learned many times before but I still struggle with them and some are new and wonderful. Running is like life that way and maybe that is why it can be so therapeutic to run and work it out on the road. Can’t wait to see what great lessons this year has in store for me. Here’s to a P.R. (I wish!) at the 2018 Colfax Marathon!

— Joyce Gottesfeld, MD, is an OB/GYN and has been practicing with Kaiser Permanente Colorado for 21 years. She’s a wife, proud mother of three girls, and an avid runner. When she is not doing the work that she loves – delivering babies, performing surgery, and helping women in the most personal area of their lives – she is making her way through the crazy chaos of a full life.