A couple of months ago, I fell in love. Truly, madly and deeply in love with running (mostly madly). At first, it was pure bliss and things couldn’t be more perfect. Running was all I thought about, all day long. I actually couldn’t wait for my next run, every time I went out I did a little better, a little longer, a little faster.
I got new gear. I ran a couple of 10k races. People told me I looked happier, that I was glowing. I mean, I even loved it so much I started this website! It was young love, and boy, were we happy….
Well, we’re a couple of months later now, and it’s safe to say the honeymoon period is well and truly over. There’s plenty of days where I want to say “f*ck it, I’m staying in bed”. Without an impending race to keep me motivated, with aches and pains all over my body and having reached somewhat of a plateau, this is a crucial point in our relationship: do we continue and work hard at it, or do we just call it quits?
I’m in a little running slump and I’ve been working hard at getting out of it. Here’s how I’m doing it:
1. Change of scenery
Running the same route can be a good way of keeping track of your progress, but after a while you start functioning on auto-pilot and get a little bored. Try a different route to keep things interesting. If there’s not a lot of different options for routes, you can just make a change as simple as running it in the opposite direction. Works for me.
2. Vary your training
Mix up your training. Instead of trying to run long distances, do a couple of shorter runs and focus on getting faster. Do some hill training. Try sprints. Intervals. Run at a different time of the day. Anything to keep the boredom from creeping in. One technique I’ve found really good was to set myself a weekly distance goal. So rather than running 10k on the weekend and a shorter run during the week, I’ve currently set myself a 15k weekly minimum goal. Whether I achieve it by doing one long run or several short ones, it doesn’t really matter.
3. Set a new goal
Getting to 10k was so easy for me because I had a goal to work towards, a date by which I had to reach this magical number. After the high of running those first few races, I knew I needed a new goal to keep me going. So, half marathon is September it is. Suddenly I’m a lot more likely to get out there again.
4. Take a break
I’m definitely guilty of wanting too much, too fast. Result: injuries and a bit of a burn out. So, I gave myself a week off. It made me crave going for a run, it resolved some of my aches. A little break is sometimes the best medicine for getting out of the slump.
5. Have your injuries looked after
when running long distances frequently, aches and niggles are bound to come up. In my short stint as a runner, I have had shin splints (the WORST), plantar fasciitis (the WORST) and now issues with my hip (the WORST). There is such a thing as too much exercise. It’s one thing being brave and running through the pain, it’s another causing permanent damage to your body. I’ve gone to see a sports injury professional who has given me an excruciating sports massage (the WORST), tips on how to stretch and how to prevent it. I may love running but I’m not stupid enough to ignore when something’s wrong. Get your injuries looked after professionally, or you may not be able to run at all again. It’s not worth it.
6. Reward yourself
If all else fails, resort to some good old fashioned bribery. Promise yourself a treat – whatever that may be for you – for reaching a goal, for getting out there. It works on kids, it sure as hell works as me – I’m simple like that. I heard a great idea from a friend who got herself a charm bracelet. Every time she reaches one of her goals she gets to buy herself a new charm. No one likes an empty charm bracelet, right?
7. Grin and bear it
Look, it’s called working out for a reason. If it were all fun and giggles, the word work wouldn’t be used, would it? Some days you just have to drag yourself out of bed, put on your shoes and get out there, whether you like it or not. Think of it this way, you never regret going for a run after it’s done.
How are you getting out of your slump? Share your tips with us!