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How To Start Running Again After A Break

Did You Break Up With Running? ~

You started your relationship with running, everything was going great and then…something happened.

It started that one day when you slept in because you really needed sleep or had to work late or was on vacation with the family. Or maybe it’s hard to remember exactly how or when you drifted away from being cozy with running.

But one day off led to another day off and now it’s been a full-on, awkward length of time since you and running have spoken.

You know you want to get back together (it was going so well!) but…you’re wondering where to start and will it be the same when you do.

2-Step Reality Check For Getting Back To Running 

1. Figure out why you stopped running, so you can adjust things. 

So you have to take a cold, objective look at why you stopped running. What is it that caused you to stop giving running your attention and energy?

You definitely need to address why you stopped running, so that it doesn’t repeat itself as a pattern.

If you keep starting and stopping running, you might feel like a failure at running or feel that running’s not worth it. And of course, neither of those two things are true.

Answer the following questions to help pinpoint the issue and fix it.

Q: Do you dislike running on your own all the time?

If so, make an effort to run with someone accountable who will be there for you. Ask your local running store or other runner friends how you might find running groups or people to run at your pace.

You can ask friends to start a running group with you–it wouldn’t take long before everyone is running at the same general pace.  Or you may know a faster runner who would run slower with you one or two days a week, on their easy days.

Q: Do you feel like you just don’t have the motivation?

Start small. Commit to some small goal that you can meet, like running around the block or running for only 10 minutes. Don’t allow yourself to run farther (unless of course you really want to!).

Do this consistently, at least 3 times per week, until the enjoyment of running or your appreciation for its benefits naturally increases. It will happen, I promise. If it takes awhile, that’s ok. Keep at it. You’re still getting exercise benefits in the meantime.

Q: Do you feel like you just don’t have the time?

Well, there’s a 99% chance that you do have the time. It’s just that it’s an effort to make it happen. You have to schedule running into your life the way you make time for a shower or laundry. It just becomes part of your routine.

So set out your running clothes or pack your gym bag the night before. Make your lunch the night before so you can run in the morning. Or prep dinner in the morning so you can run after work.

Whatever it is that stands in your way or becomes your excuse for not running–take care of it before the time comes when you have to make the decision to run or not run that day.

If you really need help making time in your schedule, you MUST ASK your family or others to support you in your goals. Running is very important to you for your mental and physical health and this is all just part of what we learn from the process of running.

If you were seeing a therapist who makes you feel as good as running feels, you would find time for it!

2. Don’t pick up where you left off.

Anytime you reconnect in a relationship that you let lapse, it’s usually a little uncomfortable and you need some time to get back into it.

Luckily, your discomfort will come only in the form of sore legs.

The general rule: Take as long to get back into your routine as you were out of your routine, depending upon how you feel.

If it’s been two weeks or less since you last ran, you can start back with the distance you usually ran, but do it for half the number of times for the first week. For example, if you were used to running 4 times a week at 30 minutes, start back running 2 times per week at 30 minutes. Then gradually increase the number of times you run back up over the following week or two, depending upon how you feel. Don’t overdo it, ease into it.

If it’s been more than a month but less than three months since you last ran, start back at the beginning of where you first started running, with distance and pacing. Begin again and take it easy. Gradually increase over 4-12 weeks, depending upon how you feel.

If it’s been over three months since you last ran, just start at the beginning, take it slow and enjoy getting your legs and muscles and fitness back.

One important thing that will help keep you in the habit of running is to always have a running goal, big or small. This will help tremendously. As you start back into running now, pick a running goal that feels like fun and is doable within 3 months after you start back.

This can be a race or a distance or something else that excites you. Start keeping track of your training either digitally or on a calendar as you move closer to your goal. This will keep your eyes on the future and keep you running consistently.

Congratulations on getting back with running — you two look great together!

(Thanks to Women’s Running for their contributions.)

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