If you run, you’ve been there: you have lost some of the run mojo and haven’t stuck to your training plan with the conviction you had originally intended.
Whether it was a goal of running twice a week or 6 times each week, or whether your goal was time, pace, or distance oriented, you took the time to set-up or follow a strict schedule rife with hills, intervals, quickies (short, fast runs…what did you think I meant?), long runs, yoga, and a down day here and there. You bought new shoes to reignite the run fire in your belly, you convinced a friend to do this with you, and you swore you would eat better, sleep better, and work harder while maintaining your new plan.
And then it happens: you miss a run, skip a workout, sleep in, tweak a hammy, get sick of the rain, pick up the latest gastro-virus going around, get busy (with work!), roll an ankle, get a big ass blister from your new ass shoes, chafe like you’ve never chafed before, or whatever the stumbling block is, you simply begin to fall out of your routine by missing one then another and another workout and then begin to get mad at yourself for allowing it to happen.
Well, I’m here to tell you to chill out and don’t reach for the pull switch on your alarm, don’t unplug the filling tub of positive gains and allow the work you have put in to this point to simply wash down the drain.
Here are the top 4 reasons to not sound the “I haven’t run in forever alarm” and stay positive.
1. Your forever isn’t forever
How long has it been really since you last ran? Often what feels like a long time is only a short pause in reality. It may feel like forever and a day since you cruised out to the track and fired off lap after lap, but if you look back at your schedule, you will probably find you have only missed a week or so. And what is your typical week? If you normally do 3 workouts a week, catching up on a few or simply letting them go and continuing on with your schedule from where you left off is the simplest solution.
In the grand scheme a missed week, even a missed two week chunk, is easily made up by putting forth a concerted effort through the remainer of your plan. The lost time does not usually equate to lost performance.
Dig in, push ahead, run with your head up.
2. Know thyself
So “forever” really has been a longer layover of more than a few weeks, now what? For many, myself included, a break from the running routine is actually a good thing. As I mentioned in a previous post, I find that for both mental and physical well-being I need to hit the stop button, breathe, catch up on other facets of my life, heal, and refresh prior to hitting play and getting back into what can sometimes be the slog or grind of a training routine.
Know whether you are one of these run-break-run people and don’t consider this time off a set-back or “lost”. It may just be that your body, mind, and spirit needed the time away from the routine in order to find the happiness in it again.
Taking time away to heal or grow in other parts of your busy life is inherently good for your running life.
The key to getting back into the run routine is to set new, simple, achievable goals. Put one foot forward, then the other. Next thing you know, your new training plan is underway.
3. Assess the situation
When one of our young children is having a stereotypical kid-losing-their-mind-over-not-getting-their-way moment, we often ask them to slowdown and assess the situation. “Is this a 1 or is it a 10?” we’ll ask, meaning is this situation worth going ballistic over? Is it, on a scale of one to ten, something to get worked up about, or feel down about, or get angry about?
The same applies for the runner who has missed some time training. Is it a one and you needed the time to deal with a physical, mental, or emotional ailment? Is it a one and your break has been relatively short and totally justified? Is it a one and you simply need to find the inner oomph to just get back on the road or the trail and leg it out?
Or is it a ten and you’ve blown your Achilles for the second time and you have months of “off-run” time? Is it a ten and you have been dealing with personal struggles that lead to this break (job loss, personal loss, etc.)?
If it is a one, drop it, move on, shake it off, and get outside and run! You’ve done it before, do it again.
If it is a ten, find the supports you need to help you heal in whichever capacity you need. The support systems are there, but you need to seek them out. If it is injury keeping you couched, get to physio and your doctor, start rehabbing! If it is matters of the mind, heart, relationships, and emotion, rely on your friends, doctor, run club, family, counselor, online group, etc to share the burden and help bring you back to where you would like to be: running.
Assessing the situation, reflecting on your state of being, helps to put the run absence in perspective.
And finding perspective usually leads to runhappiness.
4. Jump the hurdles one at a time
A hurdler who thinks about the last hurdle prior to the one in front of them lands on their face. And landing on your face sucks. Actually it hurts.
Try to focus on the most immediate obstacle facing you. What exactly is or has been preventing you from running? If you look ahead and think about how you should be running this pace or that distance by now, you’ll continue to stumble upon the same problem. At the same time, if you look back and think, “Man, three months ago I was on top of my game and laying down sub-20:00 5k,” then you’ll trip over your past and get stuck at the starting line afraid to get going.
Look at what you can do today to get back to the run. What are the steps and strides required to leap the hurdle in front. Only when you tackle the issues one by one can you then worry about what will come later. Run, clear the first hurdle, run again. You will free yourself the burden of tomorrow and the pain of yesterday.
You’ll also protect your face this way.
Don’t sound the alarm and wake up to negative thoughts of “I can’t” or “I haven’ been”. Take stock and re-live the positives you have gained and earned. Continue to build on the foundation you’ve poured a lot of time and energy into.
Get out and run. Like, today.