So, while Catnip was writing a post about staying motivated while pregnant and Salty was asking why we do this to ourselves, I was sitting around and considering the fact that I’ve had no motivation to run over the course of the last month. Or two. So I started to wonder what it takes to break out of a running rut. And then I started wondering if it really mattered whether or not you really break out. Stop throwing things at me and hear me out.
Have you ever taken a break from running? I’ve taken whole years off before. And when I came back I came back because I wanted to, not because I felt obligated to.
Here are five ways to break out of your running rut…or not.
1. Physical fitness – muscular and cardiovascular strength, endurance, stamina, mental toughness – is important. But (sacrilege!) it doesn’t have to come from running. It could come from cycling, swimming, yoga, rowing, climbing, crossfit, kickboxing, or any of a hundred other activities designed to challenge you. You can swap out a cross-training workout for a run and do it guilt-free, especially if your brain needs the break. At the end of the day, a little cross-training might even make you a better runner (shhhh. Don’t tell the boys on the LetsRun forum I said that!)
2. Pay for a race – because we’re all trying to save money, and the little bit of guilty pleasure that comes from doing something for ourselves turns in to guilty guilt if we pay for something and don’t use it. If you sign up for a race, you’re more likely to run in preparation for it. Now that you’ve paid for the race…
3. Sign up for a training plan – so that you are well prepared for race day. A training plan is great for getting a specific workout on the calendar for a specific day. That way you don’t get out of bed and a) wonder what to do, b) decide that since you don’t have a specific workout in mind you might as well do laundry instead, or c) get right back into bed. Most training plans get incrementally harder, so you can look ahead and tell yourself that you’re not going to be ready for that 15-miler in week six if you don’t do the workouts in weeks one through five.
4. Phone a friend – running buddies can keep you accountable, and you’re less likely to bail on someone else than you are to bail on yourself. If you can’t pin down a friend for a running date, engage your family and/or social media. The pressure of knowing that someone, somewhere, expects you to check back in next week and let them know about all of the improvements you’ve made might just get you to lace up your shoes.
5. Recall positive reinforcement – this sounds really corny, but a few years ago when I had just started running again after a long self-imposed hiatus, I did a 5-mile run that I really, really didn’t want to do. I was tired, it was hot, I was tired, I was achy, I was tired, I had a bunch of stuff to do, I was tired…but I did it. My husband, who I didn’t realize had been paying attention to my struggle, recognized and mentioned how proud he was of me for going out and running even though he knew I really didn’t want to. He has no idea what effect those words had on me, and still to this day remembering that bit of encouragement is better at getting me out of bed and on the road than any other cute little saying or mantra or motivational poster has ever been.
All that being said, I still stand by my original thoughts on this subject. It doesn’t really matter if you run or not. All that matters is that you do something.
What experiences or thoughts have helped you break out of a running rut?