At this time last year I wasn’t running.
And not only not running, I was reduced to only low-intensity exercise (no cardio or heavy strength training) for three months. For most of 2020, I was unknowingly dealing with chronic active Epstein-Barr virus, a.k.a. the virus that causes mono.
I had reached a point where I was fatigued after only four miles. It was tough, but this was also a long time in the making. For the better part of the last four or five years, I was struggling with both health (physical and mental) and performance. I just never felt right. I kept pushing but continually felt worse. Multiple factors were at play, but at the end of the day my mind and body needed a break. I started back to running in late January of 2021. My first week I only ran two miles. After five weeks I was up to 19 miles a week, small in comparison to the 70-80 miles I had become accustomed to running. I officially started back in March but we had to take things slowly so that the virus didn’t come back.
For most of the year I had to work hard to stay focused on my progress and not how far I had fallen. Being focused on times had plagued my last few years and taken the enjoyment out of it. As hard as it was to feel like I had a mountain ahead of me, seeing the progress in paces each month allowed me to keep moving forward, even if my progress was slow.
Body image had always been a sticking point for me, so this was also something I was working to overcome. I had to constantly remind myself that I was healthy, feeling better than I had in a long time, and making progress. This kept me from going backward.
Going into the 25K at the Frosty 50, I ran a couple of my highest mileage weeks since April 2020. It felt good to reach that again. Rebuilding this year has allowed me to approach each race excited to see how far I have come. The biggest thing I took away from the Frosty 50 25K race was feeling the enjoyment again. I spent so long racing with an expectation to feel bad. There were times where I never thought I would be racing like this again. To win and get the course record was a great start to this year. Looking forward to what’s to come!
Andie Cozzarelli works full time as a coach between her personal online coaching business, Run4ACozz LLC, and RunnersConnect, an online coaching platform and community for runners. She lives in Raleigh with her boyfriend and their three pups. She ran at NC State but started her running journey as a soccer player and track and cross country runner at Apex High in North Carolina.