Tuesday, June 20, 2017

How to Start Exercising Again After a Break

I've been asked by a few people lately how I find the motivation to start running again after having a break. So I thought I'd share a little bit about that with you today.

First let me say that I didn't take breaks seriously until after I'd been running for 10 years.  The first few of those years were very low key, non-competitive running years. When I got into high school and started competing, I wasn't very smart about the way that I did it. I kept running after high school, and I took things a lot easier than I had done before. I ran for the fun of it, I ran to clear my head, stay focused, feel like I had a handle on things, but I didn't compete much. Then I decided to run this race with my cousin and my mom.  It was a relay marathon and it was a lot of fun. I actually felt pretty good about how I did, but I wasn't expecting to run that far, you can read all about that race HERE. So the next few days I was really sore and knew I needed a good break. That break turned from a couple of weeks, to a couple of months and then I felt like I hadn't run in years.

I got back into running again, just little bits here and there, again non competitive. Getting up to 3 miles felt hard sometimes. I stayed in that place for a few years. It wasn't something that I was working hard on. I was, again just doing it to help me feel like I had a handle on life and to keep in shape.  When I was pregnant with J, my Dr (who was an older Dr) told me it was best not to exercise while I was pregnant. Don't do anything but walking. (This has been proven wrong now, but I was a newbie and I wanted to make sure my baby was safe). So I took a full 10 months to a year off.  Shortly after J was born, we moved into my parents house. We were grateful that they were willing to take us in, but we wanted to be on our own so bad. Rent had been changed since the last time we rented, and we couldn't afford it at the time. We were going through a job change. I had depression. We had a lot of family things going on and a lot of those things were very frustrating to me. I didn't feel like I was making progress. I didn't feel like a good mom. I felt continually judged. I wasn't me. When I was thinking about it one day, I realized I hadn't been running in quiet some time. So I loaded J up in my running stroller, and I headed out. My goal was a slow 3 miles. I made it barely a mile and I was dying. I started feeling discouraged and complaining to Trevon when he had to stop me to remind me that A: I hadn't been running in a really long time and B: running with a stroller was completely different than running alone (not to mention I had just had a baby). It wasn't long after that, that Trevon found a work out that he wanted to do. It required 3 running days a week and it promised to help cut your 5k time down in 70 days. When he told me about it, I decided to join in.  Since then, I have always bounced back from a break fairly easy. I've taken a break durning the end of my pregnancies, and for a while after having my babies. Here's a few ways to make coming back off of a running break (or starting for the first time) easier.

1. Set a goal. Set a reachable goal for yourself and tell someone about it. When we let people in on our goals, we are much more likely to achieve them. Sign up for a race or set a goal to run for 20 minutes without stopping. It doesn't matter how far you can make it in that time frame, just as long as you keep moving for 20 minutes. If 20 minutes seems like too much for you, that's ok. Pick a number you're comfortable with and stick with it. Once you reach that goal, set another one.

2. Find a running buddy. This little tip has been one of the most effective ways for me to get going again. I do much better to get a run in, when I know someone else is counting on me to be there too. Plus it makes running more fun when you have someone to chat with during it. Your running buddies become some of your best friends.  They also become some of your best cheerleaders.

3. Mix things up. Sometimes when we are starting back up with our running, it can be slow going and you can get bored. Don't just go jump on a treadmill and keep it at the same speed every day. Change up your workout. Add some strength training, do some speed, cross train a little bit. Find other ways that you enjoy exercising and do them.

4. Take a challenge or start a program. I've done a few different challenges/programs, some of them I liked more than others.  One time I wanted to be better at push ups, so I did the 100 push up challenge and it was supper effective in the push up area. It didn't help a ton with running, but it was still fun. I've also done Insanity and Tabata which both helped with cardio in general and I've done the TSC Heart of a Champion program. While I don't agree with everything that Chris Kruger says, the workout part of this program did help cut some of the time off my 5K.

5. Prep the night before. This helps a lot if you're working on being a morning runner. If you set your clothes, shoes, keys...everything you're going to need out the night before. It's going to be easier to get out of bed and go in the morning. I do this with every morning work out I do. That way my mind is already planning on going out, I don't have to spend any time finding my gear. I just go change and head out the door. I also have my run planned so I don't have to worry about deciding how far I want to go or what route I want to take.

It doesn't have to be hard to start exercising again after a break. The hardest part is deciding that you really want to do it. Then taking the first step out the door.

What's the longest break you've taken from exercise?

Do you have any favorite workout challenges?