There are handful of reasons to back away from running with a strict schedule or specific goals in mind. An injury may have you sidelined, or life has gotten in the way or another sport has snagged all your free time. Whatever the reason…do not let the doomed feeling of “it’ll be so hard to regain my strength/endurance/speed back” send you into a sad spiral of doubt. Instead, give yourself permission to forget how to run. The process of re-discovering your love for running may become so much more than just muscles, sprints + numbers. It may lead to love…true love…all over again.
Regardless of why you fell out of your regularly scheduled running or what circumstances have changed to get you back on the bandwagon — let’s chat about how you’re going to get back into running. Happy + healthy.
Literally run errands.
When you’re first getting back into your running shoes everyone will tell you to avoid pressuring yourself to hit specific distances or times. This seems quite obvious, but it is easier said than done. Our brains seem to be ingrained with this desire to compare our current performance with our past abilities. To avoid that black hole leave your watch at home + take your running shoes out to run some errands. Literally.
If you need to stop by the post office, run there.
If you’re meeting friends for coffee or happy hour, run there.
If you want to catch the bus to work, run there.
Whenever you’re leaving the house for an errand + you can justify arrive with a bit of sweat on your brow, lace up those running shoes! It’ll give you a chance to get outside + run without having the pressure of time or distance.
Recruit a patient runabler.
Technically, this is an optional “need” for your return to running on the regular. It may actually be a bad suggestion, depending upon your personality. However, for many of us…being with others is a good thing, especially when we’re struggling to locate our once feverish motivation + dedication.
The real key here is patience. Seriously. Find yourself a patient, reliable runabler to drag you up a mountain side or chase you along a bike path. Be honest with yourself + with them. This return to running [especially if you’ve been gone for months or years] is not going to be a quick frolic through a field of daisies. There will be days when you hate running. Your body is not [yet!] capable of what it once was + it is rarely easy to wrap your mind around that. Those hills + splits you used to be able to dominate may be kicking your shorts. It’s okay. It’s also okay to completely meltdown mid run. Really, it is!
Don’t let a rough run + your emotional reaction to the struggle make you feel weak! You’re getting outside, you’re spending time on your feet + you’re getting stronger one day at a time. No one does that because it’s easy peasy, lemon squeezy…
Just be kind enough to give your runabler a heads up if you’re headed into a rough run or have a lethargic week. It’s okay to cry + swear…just don’t give up. Snag yourself a runabler who understands + supports this. They’ll be invaluable to you as you’re re-learning to love running + after you’ve regained your running mojo. There is no such thing as too many runabling friends, ammirite?!
Start with the easy stuff.
This seems obvious, right? You’re essentially starting over so you need to start with short distances, reasonable hills + slow speeds. Yup, that bit is obvious. That not-so-obvious bit comes into play with time. Imagine this timeline:
Week 1: slow + easy, lots of stretching
Week 2: slow + easy, a few crunches + pushups
Week 3: sprints, hill repeats + double digits
Week 4: slow + miserable
*repeat week 1-4, over + over*
Laid out in that format it seems quite obvious why so many people struggle getting back into the game. After a few weeks you feel good + want to push the pace or distance…except your body isn’t ready, so it breaks down + you’re required to start over. Again.
You need to give yourself time! Everyone says this + no one can give you a straight answer when you ask “but, how much time.” It’s annoying, it’s frustrating + it can be incredibly disheartening. This goes hand-in-hand with finding yourself a patient runabler. Let them be someone who keeps you grounded yet encourages you to push when you can.
Explore new roads + trails.
Another way to keep your mind off the struggle is to distract yourself with new bike paths, neighborhoods or trails. Not only will you be distracted by the new scenery + keeping track of your route, you’ll also have nothing to compare your run to. It’s a mind trick, one that’s highly recommended.
When we’re hitting our go-to trails from a past life of regular running it’s easy to get wrapped up in what you used to be able to do. That’s no fun…for your brain or body. Instead, avoid those routes until you’ve spent some time on your feet elsewhere. It’s great to have routes that you can test your progress on, just don’t go chasing after those numbers too soon.
These are just a few tips on how to get back into your running shoes + on the trails…without sending your poor brain into a downward spiral. Getting back in the game is hard! Obviously, it takes more than just mileage, so don’t forget to stretch + strengthen along the way.
That said — this isn’t an all inclusive list.
What mind games do you play when getting back into a running routine or training plan?
Cough them up, we all need them!