It’s hard for me to believe now just how far and fast my legs once took me. From a full marathon to fast 5Ks, hoping to break a sub-45 minute 10K, along with pacing various run clubs, these legs have done a lot of mileage.
Just after I completed my marathon, though, I really started to switch off running. What was once enjoyable became a chore, and I had found myself a new love, anyway – Olympic weightlifting. Although I found nothing was better for overall fitness and weight control than running, I couldn’t wait to drop the gruelling running plan and spend some time under a barbell.
Now, what was once such a strength of mine has become a weakness, so I’m working hard to get back the endurance I once had. Sometimes it’s more difficult to go back to something you were once good at as a relative beginner, so read on to hear the strategy I’ve been using to improve my running once more.
Be kind to yourself
So you used to be able to run a 25 minute 5K, but you can’t now. Don’t stress about it. Sure, that can be a goal in your future, but set some new mini goals and eventually you’ll get back to where you were. Comparison is the thief of joy – and this includes comparing to how you used to be – so don’t forget to celebrate your new running achievements instead of comparing them to your old ones.
Think about why you quit
If you quit running last time because of a recurring injury and you don’t address it this time, the same thing will happen again. That goes for lack of time, feeling tired and poor nutrition, too – don’t let history repeat itself and learn from your past running experiences. If you frequently got injured then build up strength in the gym as well as hitting the pavement. If you lack time, then be realistic when planning your running – running twice a week long-term is more beneficial than trying to run 5 days a week and only lasting a month. For me, I’m working to keep my running varied and interesting to ensure I don’t get jaded with it again.
Get back in touch with your running buddies
Since moving to Manchester the best friends I’ve made have without a doubt been my running buddies – although I haven’t actually run with them for over a year! I’ve always said the best way to improve your running is to run with others, so swallow your pride, forget how you used to run, and get out with your club again. You’ll probably be in a lower group than you used to be, but enjoy the process and get chatting to your friends and it won’t seem like a big deal anymore.
Work on your technique
How’s your running technique after all that time off? Was it great in the first place? Use this opportunity as a fresh start to perfect your running technique – this will make you super efficient and help prevent injury. You could work with a coach, budget-allowing, or even just study yourself using a site like Kinetic Revolution.
Get some new kit!
Seeing as I’ve changed shape quite a bit since I was a bona fide runner, my kit didn’t fit so great anymore – and quite frankly it was outdated. I’ve got myself some new kit that fits and looks cool, which motivates me to run! Don’t forget about your running shoes, too – the midsole foam may have broken down in the time you’ve been away from pounding the pavements, so now might be a good time to get yourself a shiny new pair. There’s a good selection of both shoes and kit over at Pro:Direct Running! (aff)
I hope this tips get you on the road to becoming the runner you once were – or even just enjoying the journey once again. I hit my mini-goals of running every weekend in December and also getting my pace down to sub-6 minutes per kilometre, and am having a think about what my new goals should be. Whether these include a race or not remains to be seen, but I’ll be making sure I enjoy the process whatever happens.