Running is an incredibly demanding form of exercise, and it’s difficult to maintain motivation over a long period of time, especially as your personal bests start to plateau and your body begins to show the strain and rigors running can put on it.
Whether you’ve gotten demotivated, injured, or simply taken a break from running to try other forms of exercise, once you stop it can be very difficult to get back into running. There are many reasons for this, and the first among them is that running is using a lot of muscles that don’t get used day to day.
The stabilizing muscles of the core and back, in particular, can suffer when you get back into running, but this isn’t only a physical battle.
The mental battle of trying to rebuild your form and confidence can take a huge strain on people and often makes it hard to rebuild the running habit.
There are things you can do however to make the process of getting back into running much easier, and in this guide, we’re going to look at some of the best ways to get your body and mind prepared to run again so that you can get all of the benefits that this excellent exercise provides.
Make a Plan
One of the best ways to get back into running is to make a clear plan of what you can currently do and what you’d like to be able to do. Include specifics like a route plan, distances and times as well as elevation.
Make a commitment to a certain number of runs a week, and use a training plan (many of which are freely available online) to progressively overload your body and start to make it fitter as you continue to work out.
A plan will help you to set manageable goals which can help build confidence and motivation, and start to rebuild the habit of running by using structure and commitment.
While many people won’t like making a plan, it’s a key aspect of almost all goal-oriented activities in life, and even a simple plan in the back of your mind is better than no plan at all.
Whether you commit to running every other day or just twice a week, to begin with, this can not only provide you with motivation but a sense of reward, responsibility, and achievement when you stick to your commitments.
The positive feelings this evokes are one of the best ways to actively motivate yourself to continue working on your fitness.
Starting small is key, and if you find running too difficult to start with, it’s best to begin by taking walks and reducing your distance depending on your own physical fitness.
Biting off more than you can chew at the beginning of your renewed running journey will almost certainly lead to an injury or a loss of motivation, as the feeling of failure can be overwhelming early in any fitness journey and cause anyone to lose motivation.
As they say, it’s better to walk before you can run!
Build the Habit
Building the habit of running can sometimes be easy, but can also be very difficult if the weather is appalling or you’re exhausted after a long day of work!
Building the habit of running is a key thing to focus on and will help get you out of the door even on days when you really don’t feel like it.
If you do this well eventually you will make running an integral part of your daily life and will even look forward to the endorphins and reward that a good run will give you.
Buy Some New Gear
A slightly sneaky approach to motivation is to incentivize yourself! Once you’ve started the process of walking or running and are beginning to build your habit, set yourself a fixed point in time where you will reward yourself with some new kit!
If you manage to run x number of times a week for a solid month, allow yourself to buy a new pair of running shoes, or perhaps a pair of compression leggings, or something else running focused that will make you want to keep running.
This has the added benefit of making you continue running after meeting this goal to get your money’s worth out of your new running gear!
Use a Fitness Tracker
Fitness trackers are everywhere these days, from phone apps to dedicated fitness watches.
They can be a huge help when it comes to planning your progress and motivating yourself, and are also a great way to monitor your heart rate and other health metrics to stay safe while you exercise.
Join a Running Group
Making running a social time is a great way to distract yourself from the fact you’re out running and to make running a more enjoyable time.
Not everyone is going to enjoy running that much, but making it a time for friendship and bonding can really add a fun dimension to running that makes it much more enjoyable and motivational.
This is also a great way to make new friends!
Set an End Goal
Setting an end goal, such as an event or some other target to aim for can be a strong motivator.
You may decide to enter a half marathon at a certain point down the line, or you may be aiming at an upcoming wedding or party, but whatever it is, having a key point in time to strive towards is one of the best motivators.
Get Enough Rest
Finally, getting enough rest is critical, and getting back into running will often require you to be gentle and forgiving to your body as it starts to get used to the exertions and stresses or running.
Get plenty of sleep, eat well and drink plenty of water to keep your body in top shape while you reboot your running life!