I’ll admit it. Up until four weeks ago, I hadn’t run for almost six months. I can’t even use injury
as an excuse, unless what was injured was my motivation.
I’m known as the ‘All or Nothing’ member of Team ELLE’s Running Club
, which is entirely accurate. Ahead of my running ‘sabbatical’, I had participated in two half marathons and a full marathon in the space of just over a year. I trained obsessively. Running is addictive, and it can be easy to get consumed by training schedules and enticing challenges, but it’s also just as easy to fall off the wagon.
After I ran the marathon, I dramatically cut down on my regular running, but figured I had enough running experience and overall fitness to continue to participate in events as large as half marathons without any training. Incorrect. I remember getting to mile 10 of a half marathon and thinking, I can’t do this anymore? I stopped, and I walked. This was the first time since I began running at the end of 2011 that I ever walked during a run, including training (don’t get me wrong, sometimes my ‘running’ was slower than your average walking pace, but the principle remains) and once I let myself walk, it was that much harder to start running again.
This really damaged my confidence. I finished the event disappointed, deflated and feeling spectacularly nauseous. I was completely put off running. For a few months, I tried the occasional run, but I’d lost my passion. I walked all the time. I kept on giving up. Once I realised that my heart wasn’t in it anymore, I knew I needed to give myself a proper break from running, and decided I’d start again in the new year, a clean slate, and build my running back up from the bottom.
I feel like a beginner again. I can’t expect my body to run like I used to – I remember when I thought 10 miles was a short run, and now the mere thought of it makes me come out in a cold sweat. Of course, I’m still an ‘All or Nothing’ kind of runner, so though I may be starting off my training slowly, I’ve still set myself a challenge of completing a 50k Ultra Marathon by October…because I’m crazy. But I’m building it up slowly – from a half marathon
, to a marathon, to the final challenge - training properly all the way. I had forgotten how much I love running, and I haven’t walked yet.
The key is taking everything step by step. Manage your own expectations and don’t set yourself unachievable goals – if you’re going to put in the work, you will succeed, but without the time and effort of training properly, don’t expect it to come easy – you’ll only disappoint yourself and make the whole process a lot harder. Start slow, and find things that will help you stick to your plan - like arranging runs with friends. Remember that running requires as much mental strength as it does physical. Applaud yourself for putting on your trainers and getting out the front door, because once you’ve done that, the hardest part is over.
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