Really out of shape...or aftereffects of COVID?


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I don't know how much I should be worried, so I hope someone can offer some advice. I'm an early 40s woman, if that is helpful...

As of the fall of 2019, I was a half-way decent runner - could run a 7 minute mile, generally could finish a 5k (depending the course) between 24-30 minutes, had done a few half marathons, started doing (and loving) a bit of ultra-running - and then in January 2020, I broke my foot (stupid injury playing with the dogs, not running related). First period of inactivity.

After it healed, I started to return to running, slowly, but then I got COVID (a very mild case). After that, I went into a mental slump and pretty much stopped exercising altogether (other than walking the dogs) from the fall of 2020.

Now it is mid-2021, and I'm trying to get back into it, and it. is. brutal. I've been out about seven times so far, and I cannot run a mile. My lungs are BURNING. My legs are lead. Coming back from injuries and time off in the past has *never* been this bad or painful, though I've also never been *this* inactive for *this* long.

In terms of pace or moving too fast or trying to come back too quickly, I'm trying to be super forgiving, mentally and physically, with the goal of just getting out there. None of my runs are more than a mile, and for that one mile, I'm going between 11:30 and 13:30 pace. I'm also taking walk breaks - one minute jog, one minute walk. But, man, am I sucking wind for that one mile!

My current goal is three or four of those one mile runs a week. I've also added in some gentle yoga and Pilates, just so I'm paying attention to everything.

I guess my question this normal? I've been pretty active since I was a kid, so I've never had a period of ~10 sedentary months, so maybe this is just the reality of being in really bad shape? Or do I need to worry something else might be going on?

Right now I understand why people say, "I hate running". I don't want to hate running.
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