Over the last few years I have been unfortunate enough to be laden with injuries from broken bones to muscle tears. Although I have always, and still have, a huge passion for running, at various points along my journey so far it has faded a fair bit. Over Christmas my coach and I decided that I would take a short break from competitive training and racing for a few months to allow my body to fully repair itself and allow me to actually regain my love for running by taking runs easy and just enjoying the feel of actually being out running.
So far, it has worked. I’ve run without any injuries and have run as and when I feel I want to [not exceeding 3/4 runs a week] – each run has felt more enjoyable. Having a taken a step back from hard ‘training’, I’ve also done a a fair bit of cross training / cycling, quite often substituting runs for a ride if a friend’s injured and wants company on the bike.
Here are a few suggestions to make sure you and running don’t fall out:
- Find a buddy, or join a club eg. Nike Run Club
Running alongside someone can be SO motivating. Having done a lot of both training alone and training in a group, I know there are positives and negatives to both. Having someone to talk to or just run alongside you silently can keep you going further if you tend to get bored easily, but also if they’re slightly faster they could even pull you along faster than you’ve ever run before.
Joining a local running club or more relaxed club like the Nike Run Club could keep you on the road (or trail) for longer. By committing to sessions at a set time with others you are less likely to find an excuse not to go.
- Vary your runs eg. Intervals, speed work, long slow runs
Plan your running week so that you don’t always run the same route at the same pace at the same time. Add an interval session, long run or fartlek.
- Take the scenic route
Why stick to the same 3 mile route time and time again? Try and look for new routes along canals, through local parks or woodland, round a lake…find somewhere beautiful to run. (You might even have some insta-worthy moments 😉😉)
While you’re out on your run, take time to breathe, focus on taking slow deep breaths. If you need a break, walk for a few minutes – you’ll enjoy the run more if you’re not killing yourself 100% of the time.
- Don’t feel you ‘have to run’ or force yourself to run – it’s ok to have a rest day!
If you are a regular runner and one morning you really don’t feel like running, maybe your body is trying to tell you something? Take a day off – a day (or even a week) off will not affect your progress. Running when you don’t want to be could lead you into the mud mentally when it comes to setting out on your next run.
- Do some other sport at least once a week eg. a cycle, swim or yoga class
Cross-training (by this I mean anything other than running) is also a good way of keeping your body fit without running. If you feel a niggle developing, a swim or cycle could be a great way to keep your training going without making the injury worse. Taking a day off to do some other exercise may also mean you’re more grateful to be running the next time you run…!!
- Set yourself a goal
You’d be surprised how much more motivation you have once you have set yourself a goal! By entering a race or setting an end-of-month target you are less likely to feel like the running has ‘no purpose’ and it’ll keep you going. Deciding to run a Saturday morning parkrun could be your first goal.
- Create a banging playlist and listen to some tunes
On long runs it can be nice to zone out and get stuck into some music. Your concentration may move from the run to the music and I find time passes far quicker. Make sure the music is relatively fast with a beat around the same as your cadence so you can run to the rhythm! I prefer not to listen to music on short runs and during training periods I need to focus on the run with as few distractions as possible.
How do you stay motivated?
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