Who knew that something I used to do so willingly as a child and teenager would pose such a struggle now. Barely 10 years after running miles in any given day during soccer practice, games, or tournament, I’m teaching myself how to run again.
I say “teaching” but it really is like re-learning how to run. How to run and actually enjoy it for its own sake. During my days on the pitch, it wasn’t just running for the sake of running. It was chasing down a lead pass, it was catching up on defense, and it was being faster than their sweeper to score the game-winning goal. It was a means to an end.
These days, it still is a means to an end. But that end is now beating my previous time, going the distance, or logging the burned calories in my health journal for the day.
Additionally, it’s only me out there these days. I no longer have the goals of my teammates resting on my shoulders (eh, legs), it’s only mine I need to worry about. Which you’d think would make it easier. Wrong.
I now need to deal with this pesky and fleeting little feeling called “motivation”. People are always searching for it, but you don’t technically ever find it, you have to create it.
Here’s how I’ve began teaching myself how to love running again.
- Set a goal with a specific timeline. Begin with the end in mind. Write the date of your race or what have you on your calendar and don’t forget it.
- Have an accountability buddy. I am training with my sister in law and her sister, despite living hours apart. We text pics when we’ve completed workouts and build each other back up when we miss.
- Get hooked on the feeling. Even if you feel like your legs are resembling a certain wiggling dessert when you’re done, that sense of accomplishment and pride over getting it done will keep you coming back for more.
- Leave the negativity at the door. Quit the comparisons to your teenage self. The only comparisons you should make is to how much better, faster, stronger you are today than you were yesterday.
- Listen to your body. You’ll thank yourself later when you don’t try to push yourself past your breaking point. Don’t ignore those slights pains or pangs, as they could be a sign of something more serious. Stretch before (active stretching to warm up) and after (static stretching to improve flexibility) your runs and during rest days to help heal those muscles.
Believe me, it’s tough. There are days when I’ve looked at my training for my half marathon and thought that I CAN’T DO THAT. And then I remind myself that something is only impossible until you try it. And that something is always better than nothing. Being a runner involves committing to a lifestyle change and committing to yourself that you can go the distance.
Oddly enough, my mother also started getting into running when she was my age…