The exercise didn't seem to make any discernable difference to the ongoing stomach problems (about which more in another post if I can bear it), but it made me feel mentally better, so I think that's a win overall.
Running even shortish distances seems to have got a lot harder since I was actually doing 10k runs, though — so much so that I sometimes think "did I really do that?" and wonder if I just made it up, embellished the story in my mind until it became real. I know I did do it, but sometimes it feels like a fake memory. Maybe it's because the memory of pain is so unreal; the running in the past doesn't hurt, so when the running in the present does hurt I feel as though I'm backsliding, as though it's getting harder.
Admittedly I let the running lapse for a couple of months, which I think set me back a lot further than it would have done for someone with a higher baseline of fitness and/or running ability; but even given that, it seems to have taken months of doing 3–3.5 miles at lunchtimes before even that distance feels bearable. Half the time I end up getting a cripplingly painful stitch at around 1.5 miles and then having to walk so much of the remaining route that I just feel like a failure. Not good for the soul (though the fact that I'm getting fresh air and a screen-break means it's probably still a net benefit). Today was the first time for ages that it's felt manageable.
The main thing that's made it harder to get back in training, though, I think, is that it's not new this time. When we were building up the distance bit by bit (a 10% increase every week) it was new every time; every week I could say "this is the furthest I've ever run before", and the fact that I could do it at all was an achievement. Whereas now, because I've done it before, it feels like something I ought to be able to do; there's not so much sense of achievement if I do manage it, and much more sense of failure if I don't.
Nonetheless, I'm planning to do the Town & Gown again next year. When I finished it last year I was thinking "maybe next year a half-marathon"; I know that's not possible (or at least not sensible) now, so I'll settle for doing the same thing again. I think it'll be harder when I don't have the "first race ever" get-out, when I know that I've got a "personal best" time to beat (or not to beat). But I'm going to have a go anyway, and at least prove that I didn't just imagine it.