The Comeback Kid: Returning to Running Post-Hiatus

I just had this revelation: when I’m curious about something or looking for guidance, I don’t always have to rely on the Internet and other people to provide me with answers. I can actually provide those answers for myself. It’s a novel concept, right? I’m always hearing stories in which people say, “I was looking for X but couldn’t find what I wanted anywhere. So I made it myself.” But for whatever reason, I’ve never considered myself the sort of person who could create her own solutions.

This came about the other day, when I was searching for a training plan that would be appropriate to use after a hiatus. Technically, I haven’t been on a hiatus, but I also haven’t been running consistently at all. I mean, we’re talking once or twice a week here. In the past when this has happened, I’ve thrown myself back into running like nothing ever happened, only to burn out a few months later and getting inconsistent again. I don’t like this cycle, and I don’t want to keep repeating it, and that’s why I was looking for someone else’s wisdom about returning from a hiatus. There are a lot of resources out there about how to come back after a hiatus, with tips on how to stay motivated and things like that. But from what I could tell, there was nothing beyond that. So I’m going to develop my own plan. How do you like that?

Okay, so there are some basics to get out of the way before moving on to the actual training plan. These are essential–I’ve never bothered to assess my reasons for slipping into hiatus mode in the past, or pay attention to my mental state when starting back up, and that’s been to my detriment. So the rules of the return:

  1. Start slow.
  2. Think about why you stopped running and why you want to start again.
  3. Forget about your ego.
  4. Establish a pattern.
  5. Set an intention instead of a goal.
  6. Remember that you’re still a runner, no matter what.

These address all the little ways that you can trip yourself up when you’re getting back to running. I inevitably do more than I should, beat myself up for not running faster or longer, set goals that I can’t achieve…it just turns into a mess. It’s no wonder I have this pattern of slipping in and out of running, sometimes I make myself miserable when I’m doing it. This is something I enjoy, it shouldn’t be another way to feel bad about myself.

What I’m going to do is move through this training plan in phases. First, I’ll build a regular schedule and take time to let my body get accustomed to running again. Then, I’ll start gradually building mileage. Finally, I’ll establish a routine that will keep me at a solid fitness level, but that will also allow me to be flexible and enjoy what I’m doing.

Tomorrow, I’m starting Phase 1. This phase will be three weeks long, and will establish the days I’ll be running as I move forward: Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday. Saturday will be an optional day that I’ll use to run if I’m feeling good, or to do some other kind of activity. Mileage and speed don’t matter at this point, I just want to get out the door for a minimum of 20 minutes on those days. My intentions will be kindness and patience–no beating myself up, no talking down to myself, no belittling my plan, no speeding up when I’m not ready.

It’s already scary to think about, because this is so different from what I’ve done in the past, and because it also involves recognizing that I’m almost starting over and feeling okay about that. I’ve never been good at those things! But, you know, things change.

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5 comments

  1. I also needed this! I think I have in my head that a 2-3 mile run is a “waste” but after not running consistently for a couple of months, I just need to get out there and not overdo it. This week I’m shooting for 2 miles a day, no specific pace, just to DO the miles. Good luck and I look forward to hearing how it’s going!

    1. I get caught in that trap too, Carrie. It can be so hard to get yourself to do the miles when you don’t feel like they’re enough to make a difference, then you get caught in that vicious cycle of not doing anything. Good luck this week! If you have any days where you feel like it’s a waste, remember that 2 miles is a lot better than none! And if you miss a day, it’s okay!

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