Are you thinking of starting to run again after a long break? Then you are in the right place.
Today, and with my help, you are going to learn how to make a strong running comeback.
Yes, I know, sometimes it feels like an impossible feat.
I’ve been there, and to be honest, I still feel that way every now and then, but with the right training guidelines at hand, you can find your way back to running in no time.
How to Start Running Again
Over the years, I have learned a few tactics to break out of an exercise slump I’m sharing with you a few of these ways.
So, for those of you who have fallen off your running program and are serious about running again, here are my tips:
1. Start Small
Adopt a beginner’s mind.
Therefore, be careful here.
After a long break from running—whether it’s due to injury, illness, life, whatever—expect some roadblocks on your way back to the running field. In fact, after a break, expect to lose a significant portion of your stamina.
That’s why you will need to start on the right foot by going small.
As a result, if you are starting to run again, you better hold back and resist the lure to do too much at first—especially if you have been in phenomenal shape before the break.
To be safe, do just a little, and then progress slowly and gradually back to your former levels.
For instance, if you are used to running a 10-miler without breaking a sweat, then run 3 to 5 miles at a slow and controlled pace. No need to hurry it up here.
You get the picture here.
Commit to a 15 to 20-minute short runs, three times for one week. Sure, you may want to do more, but just stick to 20-minute run sessions. After three or four weeks of regular training, aim to increase your workload and running mileage.
2. One Goal
In my personal life, whenever I fell off the exercise wagon, it’s usually because I had too much going on in my life. I was trying to do too much, squeezing everything in, with no intense focus.
The key to success in life—whether it’s running, work, or personal growth—is to keep your focus as much as possible on ONE thing, and maintain that focus for as long as needed for the objective to be met.
This is easier said than done.
I know. I know…
Speaking to you as an overachiever—a common trait among most runners—this is really hard. For some people, focusing on one goal may seem counter-intuitive, but in my experience, it will pay off eventually.
Sit down and come up with the ONE goal you want to achieve. Do you want to run a 5K under 30 minutes, or shoot for a sub 3-hour marathon? You choose. Just make it accurate enough.
Write down your ONE goal, and keep it visible. Your work desk is a good place, so is the living room.
3. Find Inspiration
In challenging times, finding the right inspiration that can lift you from a slumber and spark a fire within you is of utmost importance.
Therefore, be a muse hunter.
In my experience, the easiest way of finding inspiration is reading success stories and studying the people who have achieved what you after. I don’t know why, but the simple act of reading inspirational stuff works.
Next time you find it hard to lace up your running shoes, reach for a book, fitness magazine or pull up a runners’ blog that motivates you.
I specifically started my blog as means for keeping me inspired and motivated.
Get into the habit of reading about people who love running and getting fit. They can show you the peaks and valleys of the training process, and you can learn from their mistakes and successes. Second-hand experience is vital, and it will save you a lot of trial-and-error time.
If you are looking for the right inspiration that applies to your particular case, then Google your goals, and read success stories. Of course, some of the stories can be overhyped for “entertainment purposes,” but if they are pumping your inspiration reserves, they pose no harm as long as you are aiming for realistic goals.
You can also join a forum of like-minded and goal oriented people. Participate in the discussions, leave comments to their posts and contribute with your own posts.
The most inspiring thing for me comes in the shape of quotes. I like to print them out and put them where I can see them on a regular basis—usually alongside my goals.
Here are a few:
“Strive for progress, not perfection.”
“Running is the greatest metaphor for life because you get out of it what you put into it.”
“You want me to do something… tell me I can’t do it.”
“Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.”
― Haruki Murakami,
“You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”
“Pain is weakness leaving the body.”
– Marine Corps
“Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will.”
“Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up, it knows it must outrun the fastest lion, or it will be killed. Every morning in Africa, a lion wakes up. It knows it must run faster than the slowest gazelle, or it will starve. It doesn’t matter whether you’re the lion or a gazelle-when the sun comes up, you’d better be running.”
― Christopher McDougall
If these don’t do the trick for you, then you can always GOOGLE them.
4. Commit Publicly
Nothing can get you up and running quicker than the prospect of public humiliation.
We, members of the human species, are genetically wired—from society, Mother Nature, God, whatever—to seek social acceptance. In fact, none of us likes to look bad in front of their group.
Therefore, put this instinctive power to your advantage by sharing your goals with others and committing publicly that you gonna do whatever it takes to get them done.
Nowadays and thanks to social media networks, like Facebook and Twitter, you can tell everyone you are in contact with about your running and training goals.
You can commit your goals with your family members, friends, co-workers, your blog, or you can participate in forums of runners with similar visions, and so on.
The possibilities are endless.
When everybody—your family, friends, Facebook contacts, whoever—know about your goals, it’s gonna be really hard for you to back down. You have leverage on yourself, which is always a good thing in case you needed motivation.
Just the act of going public about it can help you go the extra mile.
What’s more? Think long term…
You will also need to hold yourself accountable—long term—for your actions. Don’t just commit once and it’s over, but hold yourself accountable for the long term by providing everyone on your accountability list with regular progress updates every week or so.
That’s how they (and you) will know if you are progressing or lagging behind. Feedback is essential.
How to start the commitment?
Commit to run three to four times each week for the upcoming four weeks, THEN schedule the runs then share your schedule with your social group. Simple enough.
After you cover all bases, do what you have to do to carry your plan into fruition.
5. Change up your Running
Running gets boring when you do the same routine over and over again. In fact, this is one of the most profound running lessons I have ever learned.
One of the fastest ways to lose your enthusiasm for your regular running program is the classic mistake of sticking with the same running routine, day in and day out. After a certain time of doing the same runs over and over again, your body will adapt to the workload and hit a plateau.
So what’s the trick here?
You have to stay vigilant with your running program. Learn how to spot the signs that it’s time to shake-up your running routine so you can stay consistent with it.
So what can you change?
Gee, I could list a hundred things you could try, but let’s stick to the basics here.
Look for new running routes, incorporate more running workouts—intervals, Fartleks, tempo, long, and recovery runs—into your training program. You can also change your running music playlist, your shoes and other running gear, etc.
And make sure to do other workout routines too. Hit the weight room regularly or add a regular Yoga routine to your cross-training program. I think that the yoga mat is the best compliment to a runners road work.
6. Befriend Runners
They say that you become the people you surround yourself with. I touched lightly on the subject of peer pressure as means for keeping motivated, but there is still more to cover about the importance of the social group you surround yourself with.
For introvert runners, like me, this is a hard one to swallow. But in case you have usually ran alone in the past—especially if your running has stalled— try to boost your motivation—alongside with a host of other benefits—by hitting the pavement with other runners.
Running with a partner is awesome. A running buddy will also hold you (and hold each other) accountable for your actions. You are less likely to pull out if you knew your training buddy is waiting for you. Again, the peer pressure tool working to your advantage.
If you spend time with other runners, it will rub off eventually. Beliefs are contagious, and it’s better to be infected with the empowering beliefs than limiting ones.
Therefore, do the bulk of your running with a partner and try to hang out with runners like you. That’s how you will instill discipline for the long term.
In case you don’t have a running partner yet, then ask around and approach local runners at your local running club. Check your local health clubs to see when they offer group runs.
Ask your co-workers, ask your Facebook contacts, ask everyone. In fact, you are more likely to get approached by someone if you reach enough people with your public commitment plan. Just make sure to get your message out there for maximum exposure.
7. Celebrate your Successes
Just the fact that you are thinking about going back to running again is a cause for celebration, even if you are not capable of running the way you used to.
As a result, reward yourself often during the early stages, and rejoice in everything you do. So when you are successful with your first week, do something nice for yourself.
There are so many things you can do to make yourself feel good. You can go get a manicure, see a new movie (The new Avengers movie is out, and I can’t wait to go see it), or go play football or a baseball game, get new clothes, etc.
Do whatever makes you happy.
So what are you waiting for?
Get back to running right now, and be sure to apply what you have just learned. And please be careful out there.
Thank you for reading my blog post.
Please feel free to leave your comments and questions below
Featured Image Credit – Jaromir Chalabala through Flickr