Once upon a time (roughly 2008), I swore off running. It sucked. I sucked at it. And it wasn't fun anymore. Flash forward a year, and I broke 2 hours in the half marathon for the first time, and took 26 minutes off my previous half marathon time from 2008. Getting back in to shape sucked. And I vowed to never stop running again, because --say it with me now-- getting back in to shape sucks.
Did I mention it sucks?
Well here I am again. Apparently I can't even take my own advice. If you've found yourself in a rut, or are way more out of shape that you swear you were about 15 seconds ago, perhaps you can glean some inspiration from the following*:
1. Cut yourself some slack. You are not going to be as fast as you were (insert date of last stellar race performance here). It took you awhile to get out of stellar running shape, and it's going to take you awhile to get it back. Further, if you *try* to run at some of these previous paces you will either a) be super discouraged at how OMG RUNNING IS HARD, those paces are and/or b) wind up injured. If you end up with neither predicament, than clearly I hate you.
2. Take some time off from the running watch. Prior to two weeks ago, I had switched my garmin screen to no longer show me my current pace. My focus was getting in some miles, and not to worry about how fast or slow (ok just slow) I was going. If you can ditch the data altogether, do it. I wanted my HR data, and I thrive on seeing progress in that, so checking my HR on the run and logging my overall time (to consult at later dates when I wasn't as slow as molasses) was enough to not drive me batty.
3. Be smart. If you haven't ran any speed workouts in a few months, probably best to not start running a tempo run and interval workout in the same week. If your longest run has been 4-5 miles, it's probably not smart to jump to a 10 mile long run. If you haven't been running AT ALL, probably not best to run 7 days a week and/or 30-40 mpw. Again, if you can do this, and not end up broken, I hate you. :) The 10% rule is a good one to follow. If you're injury prone, I'd err on the side of caution **waves white flag in defeat on this one**. My marathon training starts in mid-July. I calculated the number of weeks I had prior to starting to see where my weekly mileage would have to start in order to increase by 10% (or less) a week, and still be where I needed to be for training to start. If the math doesn't add up, you should probably alter your training program.
4. Reward yourself. Preferably not with food. Uh...ooops. Guilty. Kyle works at a sporting goods store, and for the first time in the 2.5 years we've been dating he didn't use his monthly discount. Surely I could use some adorable new running clothes right? A few new running tanks had me feeling ready to run. If I keep up my training, a bright green pair of Pro Compression socks have my name on them at the end of the month (I think it was kismet that the socks I've been eyeing are June's sock o' the month, and are 40% off with code NEON). Duh, team green. (Side note: I heart my Pro Compression socks and am in no way affiliated with them, or being compensated for this mention.)
5. Make goals. Both short and long. Short term: I want to run consistent mileage. I want to look forward to most runs (I'll probably always dread certain hard workouts, such is life). I want to keep up with my stretches, foam rolling, etc. to stay healthy. And I'd like to be back to normal-ish paces by the time marathon training starts (4 weeks? 5 weeks?). Long term: Stay healthy and finally make some progress on some long standing PRs. Namely the half in September and full in November.
6. Make running fun. Make running dates with friends. Make a super fab-o running playlist. I made a playlist for my long run this past weekend that had an assortment of running songs from back when I *was* running well. It made ALL the difference on the run. I swear it flew by and was 95% effortless. It's been awhile since I've been able to say that. Plan a fun race weekend with friends. I run for the camaraderie.
7. Celebrate your progress. A long run that feels effortless? Pat on the back. A general aerobic run that's at a decent pace and right on HR target? Self-high five! Another mile tacked on to your LR from last week? Kudos. Highest weekly mileage of 2013? Huzzah! (yes, that may have been me last week) and will likely continue to be me.
*Caveat: Obviously a comeback of full blown injury proportion would and should require way more than this general "go get 'em!" inspirationz.
Anything I'm missing? If not, feel free to give me your INSPURASHUNAL words regarding your comeback so I can feed off your awesomeness and give my own a break for a minute. :)
Oh, and here's a random picture of me post-run where I SWEAR it looks like I'm enjoying running again. #proof or whatever the kids these days are saying.