It happens to all of us at one time or another. We have a running routine that we are completely committed to and for months we faithfully honor that commitment by running those miles come rain or shine. Then, life happens.
Perhaps your work schedule got busy, you had a baby, or maybe you just missed eating red velvet cake. Whatever the reason, your running program has not been a priority. But now you want to experience that feeling of accomplishment once again but the thought of struggling to get back in shape is stopping you.
Well, this article will help you return to the days of glory when you had a running program that you were proud of.
Prepare For Discouragement
The easiest time to quit a new exercise routine is within the first 30 days. I call it my “quit window”. There are many reasons why this is. One reason why it’s so easy to give up in the first month is because we get discouraged by our lack of conditioning and results.
Some of your discouragement may come from the soreness you feel as your muscles are growing and changing. You may also experience discouragement if you are not improving as fast as you would like or if you are not losing the amount of weight that you expected.
Preparing for these types of discouragement as well as others will prevent you from quitting within the first 30 days. If you are concerned about muscle soreness, plan time to rest, or to ice your muscles. If you get discouraged by a lack in progress, try to stay motivated by reading running success stories and watching motivating running videos.
Once you get past your quit window, and have made a habit of running, you will be less susceptible to discouragement. It will take some effort but it will be well worth it once you gain back that sense of accomplishment that feels so good.
Sign Up for a Race
Decisions in life are easier to make when we have a direction that we are headed in. That’s why signing up for a race is a good way to keep you focused on your routine. By signing up for a race before you are ready to run it, you have set the preparation wheels in motion. You become less likely to bail because you’ve spent money and also because you have set a conditioning deadline date.
It is also a good idea to choose a race that means something to you. Perhaps there is a cause that you are passionate about, or maybe there is a race whose course will display some beautiful scenery. Whatever it may be, choosing a race that will light an emotional spark can make you more likely to participate.
Whenever an athlete like yourself is trying to return to the glory days of their sport, there is always the temptation to compare your current condition to what you used to do. This is a trap that can hurt you in the long run. Trying to regain your past physical conditioning instantly can cause injury to the body, and can be discouraging when you feel you haven’t performed as well as you should have.
Instead, gradually gain back your conditioning by taking small steps. This is even more vital if its been a while since you’ve engaged in physical activity. You may want to consult a physician to be sure that you are ready to run again. This is a good practice so that you do not force your body to do something that it is not prepared to do. Gradually increasing your effort will ensure a healthy comeback.
Don’t Sabotage Yourself
Chances are, if you aren’t exercising regularly, your diet probably isn’t as healthy as it should be. If it’s been a while since you’ve done some running, you’re going to need all the nutrition you can get to keep you energized and focused. Begin to take in the kinds of foods that will help your running, not hurt it.
By not getting the right foods into your system, you may be sabotaging yourself and your running program. You may have developed a habit of running 4 times a week, but if you are stuffing yourself full of fats and sugars, you are slowing down your progress.
Piggyback On Someone Else’s Routine
It’s always great to have someone else with you when you are running. It’s even better if the other person has already committed to their own routine and is sticking to it. Like I mentioned before, the easiest time to quit anything is in the beginning. By partnering up with someone who has passed the “quit window” you will be more likely to stick with the routine.
When I started training for my first half-marathon, I wasn’t sure if I was going to make it since I had never run more than 4 miles. Then, I met someone who had already run a marathon and was training for a triathlon.
She welcomed me to run with her on her short runs a few times a week. This was great for me because she was already in her training routine and committed to the program. This meant that I had an accountability partner. This made it harder for me to miss a day because I knew she would be out there waiting for me.
If you are not good at starting and sticking to your own routine, find someone who is and partner with them. Over time, that person’s commitment and discipline will begin to rub off on you and before you know it, you will be fully committed to your own routine.
Getting back into shape can be a uphill climb but if you follow some of these step, you will be able to ensure a successful comeback.
Editor’s note: Ralph’s blog is one of the best I’ve seen in the personal development area! Check it out, it’s seriously up there with the top-tier blogs from the big names.