When we take a break from running it can be hard getting our motivation back. Last year, I had a hiatus from running that lasted roughly six months. There were a few reasons (excuses) as to why I had this break and the main reason was I had just completed a 112 day run streak and after that I found myself not enjoying running. With this I also threw out my good eating habits which has turned out to be worse than my run break, I have now gained weight and it has made running harder.
In December I signed up for a boxing day 5km race, I had predicted I would not do great but was still hoping for a sub 30 min 5km which I did not achieve, I crossed the line in 30:12 although it was not chip timed. I had not envisaged it feeling so hard like I had not run before and the ecstasy of finishing the race did not last long.
After that performance I knew something had to change, I had to get back to where I was previously. I knew this would take patience and I knew mentally I had to be in a better place.
I am now progressing slowly and I have been using the 10% rule when increasing the mileage which has allowed my body to adapt to the stresses of running again. Again, consistency has been the key and also taking it slow not trying to do too much too soon, I am feeling better for running regularly again.
Whatever your reason for having a break from running just know you are not alone but rest assure that you will get back into it with a bit of planning and determination. Here are some tips that I hope will help as they really helped me.
Book a Race
Booking a race give you something to aim for, it will also give you a chance to see where you are at. I would suggest aim for a 5km first them build up just in case their fitness is not quite there to aim for a longer race. Having a race on the calendar should help motivate to keep on running. Again, it should be fun so do not stress over times just aim to get around and enjoy it.
Follow a plan
You can either create one, purchase one from a coach or follow one from the internet as there are load out there. This will help add some structure to your workouts but also help with creating the habit again. It will also help with steadily progressing.
Join a running group
Joining a running group is a good idea as you will be with like minded people. you are often in a group with people with matching abilities so you will not feel out of place. It is very sociable, it is a great way to make friend and meet new people. Good running clubs will also be progressive so you will improve with everyone else and move up when you feel comfortable.
Mix up your training
Try different things like cycling, strength training or yoga. It all count to overall fitness so do not just see running fitness as just running adding different types of training can improve your running. These can be done of your off days, so you are not doing different things on one day.
Slowly build up
The mistake I made, and I am sure others have made the same mistake and it was to try to jump straight back into running the same numbers we used to. It is easy to get injured again if you are returning from injury if you try to do too much too soon. It is time to use that old cliché and to think of it as a marathon and not a sprint, take your time and slowly build up your mileage weekly. I used the 10% rule to ensure I did not over train, so you just increase your weekly mileage by 10%.
At first, try to give yourself a day’s break between runs to let the body recuperate, I would also recommend keeping your runs slow and easy at first before you start attempting intervals or speed training. The speed you are aiming for is conversation pace you should be able to hold a conversation whilst running.
Keep a diary
I believe it is important to keep a diary so you can measure your improvement, plan sessions or know when to ramp up the runs. This can be done via running apps or you can get old school and write down it down in a journal which I am enjoying doing at the moment.
Buy some running gear
Try buying yourself some new running gear, we all like to feel good and look good so why not treat yourself. If you are like me and cannot wait to try on you new clothes, then this will help as you will not be able to hold yourself back from getting out and going for a run.
You may need to change your reason for running, if your original goal was to complete a marathon or complete a run streak. now you have done it why do you run? That is a question only you can answer! But you may need a new focus so get brainstorming to come up with 5 reasons you love running and 5 goals.
Take home message
I know think about how well you did in the past can be very frustrating, but the past is the past and look ahead to the future. Think of new goals and challenges but don’t stress yourself trying to achieve these goals, think small, progressive and realistic to begin with. Use this time to build mileage and confidence and enjoy doing what you do, or you will not stick to it. You’ve got time to break your PB’s and get back to a level you are happy with so do not do too much too soon.
It can be frustrating when you are feeling down about your running. There are fellow runners out there who have been through the same as you so when you are feeling down about your running it is good to talk. Just remember to keep going because the only bad run you will ever do is the one you did not do.