The last couple months I have shared with you about losing my motivation to run and then about getting it back when I decided to train for Ragnar Great River next month. When I made that decision, my mindset changed, but my actual running was still really, really challenging. While I think a break can be a good thing, and I do believe it was what my mind needed the early part of this year, the “comeback” is hard. There were days I would head out for a 3-4 mile run and feel like quitting half way through wondering how I ever ran a marathon six months ago. How did I run 26.2 while I was now struggling to run a 5K?!!
I have had a couple other setbacks in my “running career,” but for some reason this has been the toughest one to come back from for me. I think it’s because it was more a mental break than a physical one. However, I realized this past weekend that I am slowly but surely falling in love with running again. It is no longer something I am forcing myself to do, but rather something that I am (usually) looking forward to.
I’m guessing if you are a runner, you can relate to this on some level. We have all had breaks whether they have been forced or by choice. I wanted to talk today about how I feel I have gotten out of this slump in hopes it might help someone else who is sitting where I have been the past several months.
Here is what I have found to help:
- Signing up for a race. This is an obvious one, and one you have probably heard before. For me, it was signing up for a team race. I am the type of person that will do whatever I have to do to avoid letting others down. If I signed up for a “regular” race and bailed it would have only affected me. Since signing up for a Ragnar may not be realistic for everyone, think about signing up for a race with a friend. Maybe even a friend that is newer to running so they will be counting on you to be at that start line with them.
- Change up your training. I started a weekly run group at work. This run is not a “key workout” for me since I’m often slowing down to run with others. That said, it is getting in some extra miles that I normally would not have been running, and it changes up my training routine. It is fun to run with others and it adds some accountability.
- Stop making excuses. I have adopted the attitude that no excuse (other than injury) is good enough to get in the way of my run. In the past week alone I have run in the pouring rain and during a heat advisory (I adjusted my pace accordingly – I am not suggesting ignoring this!). Just a couple months ago, these scenarios would have made me hit the treadmill at best but more likely I would have postponed (i.e. skipped) my run.
- Forgive yourself & accept the “new norm.” I spent several weeks being frustrated with my paces. They were not what they once were, and if I tried to hit my “old pace” I crashed and burned in a hurry. I have had to learn to accept my “new norm.” This does not mean I do not want to get back to where I was or even improve. It just means that I have (mostly!!) accepted that I am not there now and it may take awhile to get back there. I have slowly seen improvement in the past month. My times are getting better and I am trying to celebrate the “small victories” even if a year ago these same times would have been disappointing.
- Find new places to run. I find running the streets in my neighborhood somewhat boring. Been there, done that for a lot of miles over the years. I still run those routes if I am crunched for time, but I have been trying to run trails that I enjoy even if it means driving to my starting point. Of all of these things I have done, this is the one that I think has actually made me realize that I am falling in love with running again. Last weekend I was vacationing in Connecticut. (More like I was tagging along because my husband was there for a seminar.) I had plenty of free time, and needed to get some miles in. I explored two different trails on the days I ran. The first one had some beautiful views and ran through a cute little town. (It was also really hilly for this flat Midwestern girl!) The second day I ran on a trail that was a canal in the 1700’s and then later a railway. This trail was wonderfully flat, and parts of it felt like a run through history seeing some of the old, mostly abandoned buildings that were still standing. During both of these runs I felt more like I was site-seeing and less like I was working out. It was a huge reminder of one of the reasons I love running. I had missed that and didn’t even realize it.
Have you ever been in a big slump or taken an extended break from your workouts? What did you do to get out of the slump?