It’s been about three weeks since I shared my confession that I had stopped running for several months, lacking any injury or excuse by means of explanation. I thank you all for the encouragement I received and for those of you who said my words could have been your words, we were in the same boat and you could relate.
I’m happy to report that I’m staging a comeback and the joy is returning. Here’s what’s helped me. I share this in case it helps those of you who are in your own “off-season” of whatever your sport or activity may be and it’s not an “off-season” you had planned to take. Rather it takes you, instead.
1. Joining a group or at least getting a buddy on board. Signing up for my running club has been the single most beneficial step I could have ever have taken. My local running store offers a variety of training groups for every distance and every ability. Chances are you have a similar store near you with similar opportunities. Usually the programs are six to eight weeks in length. We meet once a week for a group run and then we are given “homework” to do on our own – two more running workouts during the week. I’m currently in a walk-to-run group. In the past, I’ve been in the “beginner runners” group. (I have signed up over the past few years several times.) As I said to a bunch of the ladies the other night, “I am the lifetime running student who never graduates.” And I’m OK with that. Right now the only thing I care about is getting out there for my group run and getting my homework done.
2. Forgetting the past. This may be easier said than done, but don’t let the thoughts of whatever progress you may feel you’ve lost rob you of the pride in re-starting and not giving up. Yes, I used to be able to run for 30 minutes without stopping. Yes, I got myself through a half-marathon training program and crossed the finish line eight minutes ahead of my goal. That’s all well and good if I can reflect on those things as accomplishments. But if I were to reflect on them and think “what ever happened to you?! You used to be able to do x y and z and you’d be so much better at this if you didn’t slack off for all those months” — THAT’s when we have a problem. I try hard to make sure there is no room in my head for that.
3. Tracking my progress. This is guaranteed to motivate you. My run intervals were two minutes long the first week. Now we are 7 minutes. Next week will be 10 minutes. I mark these workouts off on a calendar I can see in my kitchen at all times. It helps me to stay focused and to keep excited about seeing my progress.
4. Signing up for a race. This past weekend I did a 10k with a dear friend, not because I had trained for it and was prepared but because I had signed up about a year ago and did not want to be a no-show. We walk/ran the whole thing and there is no better feeling than crossing the finish line. That alone will keep you motivated for quite a while. I now have a 10k time to beat.
- 5. Last but not least, cutting myself some slack. I’m a lot happier with the world in general when I am not raking myself over the coals for things I cannot change like all those months my running shoes sat collecting dust. But I can look ahead to my next homework session. And I do.
Have you ever staged a comeback? How did you do it? What helped? Please share with our community. Someone out there is struggling right now and your tips can help them to be back in action. Starting today.