The other day, I found my very first race bib from 2006. I can’t believe it’s been 10 years since I started running!
Back then, I started running, quite literally, only because I wanted to earn Weight Watchers Activity Points. I was a smoker, and I was really out of shape. I found the Couch-to-5K program. Those 60-second running intervals in week 1 felt like an eternity and left me with side stitches. Running was hard. I completed the program, and ran a 3K race. Then I didn’t run again for a couple years.
In 2008, I got a heart rate monitor and re-did C25k. I had quit smoking, and was pacing my running with a heart rate range. I did another 3K. Then I did a couple 5Ks.
I fell in love with running.
Then in 2010, I trained for, and completed my first half marathon.
I loved running. I ran 3 times a week, never more, never less. I found a half marathon training program that I still love to this day, 11 half marathons later. I did speed work and dreamed of a sub-2 hour half marathon finish time. (I got close in 2011, with a 2:03:39.)
My life went through a lot of trauma in 2011. And during that time, my passion for running disappeared. I kept signing up for races, but I didn’t train for them, so my finish times weren’t great (for me). I was experiencing pain (from not training) and my confidence was going down the toilet.
While I still had the desire to run, my passion for running was lost…
Over the last couple years, I’ve run a little here and there. Nothing regular. I tried to force myself to run. It felt hard. I even tried to do the C25K program again. But I wasn’t enjoying any of it. And because I didn’t enjoy it anymore, I didn’t run consistently.
Until one day… I discovered I love running again!
How did I do that? I’ll tell you!
5 things I did that helped reignite my passion for running
- No pressure. I did not put any pressure on myself. I didn’t follow a program. I didn’t do speed work. I just went out and ran when I felt like it. The amazing thing… I started feeling like running more frequently!
- Start small. And by small I mean, short distances. I started with 1.5 miles. I ran 1.5 miles a couple times a week for a couple weeks. It was part of a strength training program I was doing, so I wasn’t focused on pace. I just focused on getting the 1.5 miles done. I started noticing that I was enjoying myself and I was feeling really good. Then I bumped up to a 2-mile run. I believe that starting out with a short distance set me up to succeed and really helped build up my confidence.
- No comparing. I see people who talk about how fast or strong they used to be. They use it as “proof” that they are lacking somehow now. I refused to think about what my pace “used” to be. Because quite honestly, who cares? Not me. I focused on now. How I felt now. What I wanted now. I was loving running and I focused on that. If focusing on the past makes you feel bad about yourself in the present, why would you choose to do that? Focus on the present, and don’t compare! (Comparison is the thief of joy!)
- Celebrate victories. I took back out my favorite half marathon training program and started scheduling my 3 days of running per week. I started doing some speed intervals on the treadmill. I started increasing my long run distance. I noticed that my pace was getting faster on the long runs, and running felt enjoyable and easy. When I finished a run faster than I expected, I celebrated. I shared it with friends. I patted myself on the back.
- Sign up for a comeback race! The week I got out my favorite half marathon training program, I realized that I had the perfect amount of time to train for a 10k. So I signed up for one, I trained and on race day, I crushed that race! I did not expect to, but I finished my 10K in under an hour! (59:41 to be exact!) And it was rainy and windy, just to add an extra level of awesomeness!
And lastly, stay positive! You can’t berate or force yourself into loving something. If you enjoy it, then it’s easier to stay focused on the positive. After I signed up for my comeback race, I missed a couple mid-week training runs. I did not beat myself up for it. It was important to me to remind myself why I’d missed them. One was because I was at my son’s basketball tournament. The other was because I was super run down, and I was listening to my body needing a break. Neither missed training run was because I didn’t want to run. And I did not berate myself for missing a couple runs. Life happens, and all fitness and training is not lost over 1 or 2 missed runs.
I have even signed up for more races this year, including a 6.7 mile race around Crater Lake (in Oregon) in August!
I can tell the difference between when I was forcing myself to run versus now when I am enjoying getting out there and running. It doesn’t feel hard anymore. I confident and happy and looking forward to the next day I get to run!