So you were a runner, you loved it, but then something happen and you stopped running. I think knowing how easy it was to run a 20 miler before and then having 2 miles seem daunting can make coming back seem impossible. I think “overwhelming” doesn’t even begin to describe it. Not running consistently for most of last year and then planning to run a spring marathon this year (and putting a goal on myself like qualifying for Boston) felt very heavy. I honestly didn’t even know how to start. And then I decided to just start. I had to completely remove any expectations for my runs and remove all measurements to my former self.
Here’s what I did to get myself back into running after significant time off:
not compare myself to anyone:
- Having run with the Track Club before, I didn’t want to discourage myself if I wasn’t back at the level I was at before. So while I did train with them for track practice, I did all my long runs alone. It’s such a mental thing and everyone is so different. I do well training alone but other people thrive off being around other people. Because I am so competitive and a perfectionist, I could see it not being a positive thing to throw myself into that environment when I was so out of shape and had a long way to go. For me, the best thing to do was just focus on me and the small improvement I saw every week instead of feeling like I was getting left in the dust and letting negative thoughts into my headspace.
30 day – 2 mile challenge to jump start my run
- This was key for me. This is how out of shape I was. A two mile run felt like SOMETHING. I challenged myself for the month of December to at least do 2 miles everyday- no excuses. A lot of days I would stay on the treadmill longer than the 2 miles- but some days 2 miles felt like enough. Putting run consistency back into my life was such an important element to getting back into shape. Jumping back into a legit training plan when you don't have a base is pretty tough- so doing a month to ease back in made it SO much easier for me.
choose a schedule that fit where I was then
- When my running took a pause (after the Tucson marathon), I was running upwards of 70 miles a week- a lot for someone in their first year of running. When I got back to running this year, the idea of doing that mileage was so daunting since 2 miles already felt tough. I remembered the fatigue and exhaustion I felt (attributable to the health stuff I was working through and not to the miles- but I also associated the high mileage with that time) and I just didn’t want to go back to that low again. I chose a running schedule that wasn’t as high mileage to start off with. For me, Hanson’s (slightly modified) was the best fit for me. Now I’m back up to pretty high mileage but then I focused on doing less miles to try to get the most out of myself and work back up. What worked for you in the peak of your fitness before, may not be your best fit now. Don’t be afraid to change things up.
be gentle with myself
- This was the toughest one for me. But it is hard coming back. It is tough comparing yourself to your faster and more in shape self. Be patient with yourself and give yourself praise when you deserve/need it. You’re not going to get anywhere fast (literally) if you keep beating yourself up for not being the former you. You’ll get there sooner than later- but be patient with yourself on the journey.
be realistic with goals and expectations
- Choose goals for your next races that are reflective of where you are currently at in your fitness. No point in trying to set new PR's if you aren't even at the same spot you were when your fitness fell off.
- There are going to be good days and bad days on the road back to being in shape. Downplay the bad days and focus on your good days. As you go on, you’ll have more good days than bad days- but it can’t get to this if you don’t push past the ugly, uncomfortable and annoying days. Know your best and fastest days are ahead of you and focus on that.
Sunday was Milestone's First Annual Half Marathon Fun Run- which sounded like FUN to me since it meant LESS miles than my normal Sunday morning long run. I added some tempo miles in the middle of it to get my legs moving again. Less than 2 weeks until the Holiday Half.... OY VEY.
Have an amazing day- and if you've taken some time off from working out- now is the PERFECTTTTT time to get back at it- just starts with a step/jog/run. ;-)