Running is a weird and unpredictable beast sometimes. You can run often and you get good times with very minor improvements on each run or all of a sudden you get a personal best by over a minute. There are also the times when you do not run for a week and all of a sudden, your pace has vanished, poof, gone. I found that when I returned to running that I was not only trying to go at the same speed as I used to, but I was also trying to run the same distance as I did before. I would get halfway there and I could feel the fatigue start to set in. I would become demotivated to carry on and stop, curse my stupid brain and body for giving in so early as I knew I COULD do that distance and I knew I COULD go that fast. So, here are a couple of tips to get you through that funk. I hope it helps! Sorry if it doesn’t…
Run shorter… Again and again
Back in the day I would try and run a 10k every night, and I did this without fail. I would just go and run it, times would differ of course, but I still made that distance. So when I returned with a considerable weight gain I was expecting the same thing… Quickly disheartened I would keep trying that same distance and getting nowhere, having to take walking breaks. I messed about with running slower, but mentally I was shot.
The solution for me was to change distance. I was never one to mix up my running too much, so I have began to run 1km or 0.5km sprints to help get my stamina up a little. By running these shorter distances and taking a little rest and going again, I am improving my conditioning, plus it is making me not think about running that 5 or 10 or 15km. I am just focussing on getting to the bottom of the road, getting it together and then going back. I may get to that distance overall, but because I am breaking it up I am able to stress less. So, if I ran my 0.5km part 10 or 20 times, I have travelled my intended distance. Just differently. It is quite amazing how I felt knowing I had done it.
Keep going out there and running
In all likelihood, when you go for that run and become massively deflated from your performance you are not going to go out the next day or day after and run. Big mistake, just try and chalk it up and run again. Even if it is on a treadmill, just get going, mix up those runs. Not only are short interval training style runs fun to do, but hill training is as well. You feel it in your legs from the fatigue, but you know you are climbing upwards and it helps to switch the brain off a little. Mix up that running routine to get out of your own head. Your legs can keep going, maybe you need to go a little slower, but your legs can do it. Muscle memory is a real thing and you just have to trust them.
You know everyone has that long run at the weekend right? Just don’t go for as long, or if you really want to go for it, go for a shorter distance and then rest up (a great thing to do in good weather) let your body relax a little then run home. Treat your head right and everything will work out in the long run. I see a lot of people wanting to go and run and then lose it because they know they have to run back. That little break does wonders… Worst case, you get to say that you ran twice that day!
Time is but a construct
“I was able to run a mile in 8 minutes”, “I was able to complete that 5k in 30.02”, “Why am I slower now, I can’t get faster, ughhhhh” As runners we are transfixed with two things and usually two things only, the time we ran and the distance… Okay, sometimes we are also thinking about what we will eat after the run (got to treat yourself ya know?). But the times always remains a major thing that impacts your run. This is especially true if you wear a watch or have your running app provide notifications on your mile or km. As soon as you fund out you ran that mile slower than last time you two one of two things, push harder and try and make the time up thus possibly sacrificing the entire run for that burst. Or you get frustrated and over think it for the next half a mile and by that point, your next mile is slower than the first and it all falls apart. You stop, get angry and have a terrible run IF you even try again.
Do you sense what I am going to say next? Yep, get out of your head. Hide the phone, turn off those notifications. Only have the distance on your watch. Do whatever you need to do to not think about the time. There have been times that I have put my phone in my running bag and just tracked my run that way. I get deflated knowing the distance or time and seeing it is not like it used to be, so by taking away the option of seeing it without stopping and looking, I raise my chances of running the entire planned route without stopping. The time should be the lesser worry in reality. Get to the distance first, the time will come the more you run it. That is something I taught my girlfriend, I made her run around a 5km route very, very slowly when she started getting into running. The aim was to tell her and her brain that she can run 5km. She did and now she does regularly. Was that the right way to teach her? Probably not, but as I improve and get faster again I will know I will pace her to faster times and when needed longer distances. She has fast times in her, she just needs to believe it and if I can help with that then great!
Try not to run alone
I know, in an ideal world we will all run together in one big happy group at all the right paces for us. But, sometimes solo runs are required to get that run in. Whenever you have the opportunity, however, find someone to run with, be that a friend, family member or join a running club to find people at your current pace. I have found that you run faster and further when with others. Why? You are not alone and you can talk (albeit probably a bit breathlessly) and if they are keeping at it, you will keep at it. Rest assured they are probably still going because you are with them, so it is a mutual thing! For a while I was only running with Victoria, so when I started running on my own, I found I couldn’t do it as well. It was annoying as I was always able to run on my own and never actually had a running partner until I met her. The positives are there and they should be welcomed. Motivate each other to keep going and you will get where you want to be.
Well, I hope that helped a little bit! I probably waffled for way too long, but that’s how I do it! Until next time.