Did a vacation disrupt your running routine? Or maybe an injury has kept you sidelined and then you never got back in the groove? We have all been there. Times when your regular exercise time has been shot by the unexpected. And getting back into the running habit after taking a couple weeks’ break, or even a couple months to a year off is a scary proposition for a runner.
The good news is that most of it are in your mind. Having the right mindset about getting back into shape will help you overcome any mental roadblocks that are keeping you off the road.
Here are five tips that will get you back to being a road warrior once again.
Check your gear.
If it has been longer than a couple of months since you last ran regularly, recheck your running gear. Do you have sunscreen? Is it outdated? Do you have a supply of BodyGlide or some other salve to prevent chafing? Band-Aids for blisters?A body band or other running pouch that carries your emergency contact info?How are your shoes? Do you need a new pair? What about socks? Get that all in order before your first run. Going over your gear will help gently prepare your mind and mood for getting back out there.
Lacking motivation is a serious problem for runners. Before lacing up your shoes, it is common to be hit with self-doubt, worry, or feel little desire to get out the door. The important thing at this point is to start small. First, if you are trying to establish a morning run habit, take baby steps by getting your body used to wake up at an earlier time. After a couple of days, go for a morning walk where you run 5 minutes of a 30minute walk. Slowly increase your run time from there.
Run with a partner to keep your motivation up.
As most of us know, we are more likely to keep appointments with our friends than with ourselves. While you might be tempted to ignore a wake-up alarm if you have scheduled a solo run. But you will be less likely to ignore that same alarm if by doing so you would be standing up a friend. Buddy up. Find a running buddy who can commit to running a certain number of mornings every week with you. Then you can play catch up as you jog.
Have off days.
Your body needs time to recuperate and heal. When your body is getting used to running, overdoing a running session without following it with downtime is a likely recipe for an injury. Alternate days where you run with days where you focus on building your core, or strength training other muscle groups.
Aftercare is important.
It is surprising how many runners do not put much thought into what comes after a run. But proper aftercare is an essential element of the overall running experience and should not be neglected. Do some gentle stretches to help bring your heart rate down to normal. Hydrate. Restore lost electrolytes and nutrients.
Massage is also an element that is often overlooked but should be a part of a runner’s aftercare checklist. When muscles are exercised, such as when runner’s run, the muscles contract. Contracted muscles are in a tightened state. If they remain in this tight state, the body looks to other muscles to carry the load that they once were carrying. This causes a muscle imbalance, which can lead to injury. All of this can be prevented by massaging tight muscles. You don’t need to book a session with a massage therapist either. For instance, this massage tool can help provide the same level of therapy as a chiropractor.
Use external motivation tools.
Do not knock the benefits of an appealing reward system. There is a reason why parents give kids treats to reinforce good behavior. And the basic premise can still work for you with your running routine. Before your first day of going on a run, already have in mind a way that you will reward your endeavors. A massage, a fruit smoothie… 30-minutes of guilt-free indulgence playing the game of your choice. Get your mind to associate your run with an enticing reward, and you might have an easier time getting back in the saddle.
Track your progress.
Keep a daily log of your run times. Log in the number of miles you ran and at what speed. If you start off with a walk, then log that in too. Keep a diary of your running excursions so that you will be able to look back and see how far you have come.
Change things up and keep your run interesting.
Ever felt bored with your run? Perhaps you are a week into getting back into the habit, but you no longer feel motivated or interested? Always be on the lookout to make things interesting for yourself. Do you regularly struggle with reading everything you want to read?Both for personal pleasure and for your work?Then this next tip is for you. Purchase an Audible subscription. Listen to your favorite author as you churn up that road. And soon your morning run might just turn into your favorite time of the day.
You might also want to try running on a treadmill at a gym. Or driving out to a park with a great running trail. Change up the trail you run every once in a while to keep things interesting for yourself and prevent future burnout.
As the saying goes, well begun is half done. And there is some truth there. Starting well can help you pick up momentum to carry you through the initial fight against inertia. The above tips will pave the way to get you through your first days on the road. If you are patient and persevere, that runner’s high awaits!