5 Ways to Jump Back into Your Running Routine
by Ashlee Lawson
At the top of 2018, I trained for and ran both The Speed Project, a 340-mile relay race from the Santa Monica Pier to Las Vegas on March 3, and the National Women’s Half Marathon in D.C. on April 29. During my intense training for these two races, I also started a new job, got engaged and worked tirelessly with my co-founders to launch the RUNGRL platform. Needless to say, I was tired. Tired of running, tired of talking about running, tired of anything related to running.
So, I took a well-earned break from the miles and cut things way back. I only ran for my obligations--weekly short runs with my run crew, District Running Collective, and for RUNGRL running events. Six months have passed since this transition and lately, I’ve missed my time with the pavement.
Recently, I’ve kicked things back up, getting out there more often in hopes of finding my stride. I’ve been reminded, though, that making a comeback can be hard--and humbling. Any time you take away from running--especially a break as long as six months--can have a noticeable effect on both your physical and mental fitness. Now that I’m back, here’s what I’d recommend to help get back to your old running self again.
1. Sign up for a race.
Having a race to look forward to has always been an amazing motivator for me. Whether it’s a 5K or half-marathon, if you plan in advance, it can give you an opportunity to follow a weekly training plan and make gradual gains. Pairing your upcoming race with a realistic goal can help motivate you to feel like you did before your break, if not better. Plus, earning a medal across the finish line doesn’t hurt either.
2. Accountability matters.
I’m blessed to have a built-in accountability partner in my fiancé. We keep each other honest, and are each there for that push that is needed when the one of us wants to skip a workout. Whether it’s with a local running club, an after-work exercise group, your bestie or your bae, having the support and encouragement of someone in your corner can go a long way.
3. Build a base.
The No. 1 mistake I make when it’s time for me to make a comeback is thinking that I’ll be able to run like I used to. I’m always quickly reminded of the importance of starting slow. For me, that means taking three to four weeks where I set out to run for a certain period of time (20, 30 or 40 minutes), instead of reaching for a certain mileage. It’s a bit of a jedi mind trick, but it helps keep me from getting down on myself by focusing too much on distance or pace.
4. Don’t fixate on how you ‘used to run’.
“Today you” is not the same as “six-months-ago, in-race-shape you”. It’s easier said than done, but adjusting your expectations realistically is important as you ease back into a regular running routine. Things that may have come easy to you before, likely won’t anymore--and that’s okay. The more level your expectations are set, the better you will feel after each run and each little bit of progress.
5. Give yourself grace.
Whether you took a break on purpose, or life simply got to be too much, it’s okay to take time off. We’re always so hard on ourselves, but don’t give ourselves the grace we so often deserve. It took me a while to be okay with the fact that I wasn’t running regularly, but once I was legitimately okay with giving myself and my body some time to rest, the more appreciated why it was necessary.
The comeback won’t always be easy, but it will be worth it.
Co-founder and CEO