Hey Conscious Runners! Lately, I’ve been hearing about a lot of runners struggling with motivation and holding themselves accountable so they reach their running goals. The truth is everyone has to start somewhere. Whether you’re coming back from injury or coming back from a planned break, you’ve got to start somewhere. Some of us start back with a few miles, some of us start back with a combination of walking and running and others of us start back one block at a time.
Lately, I’ve been struggling to find the motivation to lace up the shoes and hit roads. It’s in part because other interests have stepped forward and in part because I’m a bit daunted by the long road ahead to get fit. But I know, come Spring and Summer I want to be fit and fast (for me) and the only way that’s gonna happen is if I suck it up, put my shoes on and hit the roads/trails now. Sometimes it’s hard to believe I was running 55-60 miles per week several months ago and whipping 200’s around the track, when I can’t imagine running 30 per week now.
There’s no other way to put this. You have to get off the couch, lace up your shoes and get to it. It doesn’t matter how long the run is. What’s important is you do it. My boyfriend makes fun of me when I tell him I’m going for a 15 minute run. “What’s the point of that?” He says. But the truth is there is a point–a good one. There are physiological adaptations (increase in mitochondrial density, plasma volume and efficiency) that occur, the second you begin exercising. And as you continue to exercise/train, these adaptations continue to occur, making it easier for you to handle larger and larger workloads. I’m not going to go into all the adaptations that occur, because the point I’m making here is to start. And if starting with a 30 minute run seems daunting, then start with 15 minutes.
Have you ever noticed the first run after a lengthy break always seems to take forever, no matter how far it is. It is funny how things work that way–that a 4 mile run when I am out of shape can feel like it takes longer than a 10 mile run when I am in shape. After all, it’s not only your body that got out of shape, your “running” mind did too. That’s why it’s good to start back with relatively low mileage. Not only does it help to avoid injury, it also gradually re-indoctrinates your “running” mind.
The other thing is you begin to make running a habit again. And when something is habitual, you’re more likely to do it whether you feel like doing it or not–an important ingredient for goal achievement. When you first start running, expect to be sore in places you didn’t know you could be sore in. As I get older, there seem to be more and more places. Of course, how sore you are and how bad it feels depends on how much time you were off and what mileage/strength work you started back with. But after a few weeks or less, your body will adapt and running will become more comfortable and you’ll begin to love it again.