Since All This started, I’ve been writing a lot about how to stay motivated.
How to set new goals and keep moving forward.
Today, I’ll go full contrarian (and possibly commit runner sacrilege) and acknowledge that it’s OK if you aren’t motivated to run right now.
It’s OK if you don’t run.
There, I said it.
My Motivational Roller Coaster
During the first two months of lockdown, I didn’t run at all. I pretty much didn’t leave the house except for grocery runs.
In June, I still wasn’t terribly motivated to run, so I started what I call #slowrunning. A Garminless, part run, part neighborhood exploration focusing on movement more than speed. Those runs served their purpose – they got me moving again and rekindled my enjoyment of running.
Only recently, when I registered for Coastal MTN Trail Running’s Summer Scavenger Hunt (a series of 30 running challenges and scavenger hunts), have I started running again with any real consistency.
These few months off were probably the longest break I’ve ever taken from running in the past 20 years.
These Are Strange Times
It’s cliche, but true.
Our routines have been shaken up. It seems like every time we think we’ve found a new routine or a new rhythm, something new comes along to shake it up again.
Races have been cancelled.
Running outside with a mask is annoying (side note: but do it anyway).
Even with a mask, it can be hard to avoid a twinge of panic every time you come upon another runner on the sidewalk.
These aren’t normal times, we shouldn’t be surprised when our normal workouts aren’t the same.
Running is supposed to be a form of stress relief. Not another to do list item staring back at you, causing you stress and anxiety.
What To Do If You Aren’t Motivated To Run
If you don’t want to run, or aren’t motivated to run, it’s OK to step away for a bit.
The world will continue to turn.
Running will still be there when you are ready to come back.
Try Not To Stress About It
There are ebbs and flows to everything. A time to plant and a time to reap, as The Byrds (and The Bible) so eloquently said.
There are seasons when you run insane mileage and train for challenging events. But everything must balance out and that also means there have to be times to let your body and mind relax and recover.
This is a normal cycle and isn’t something to worry about.
The cycle will continue and one day you’ll realize your absence from running made your heart grow even fonder of it.
Journal About It
I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t suggest journalling about it (whatever ‘it’ is – I find journalling about it is a part of the solution to nearly every problem).
Consider why you don’t want to get out the door to run or why you are lacking motivation.
Are you a group runner without accountability?
A race focused runner without a race?
A routine-focused runner without a consistent routine?
Identifying the challenges specific to you may help you identify what you can do to get back to running (or not – I’m not trying to convince you to keep running at all costs, but understanding why you do the things you do can always help).
Set A Time Frame To Be Away
Without intention, taking time away from running can create a vicious cycle of stress.
You may wake up each day and go through the mental gymnastics of knowing you ‘should’ run, but also knowing deep down you aren’t feeling it. So you don’t run. Then, when you don’t run, you spend the day with a guilty niggle in the back of your head telling you you ‘should’ be running.
It can get ugly.
Determining at the start that you will be away from running for a week (or a month, or whatever) gives you a defined vacation away from running.
During that time, you don’t have to do the back and forth of trying to talk yourself into running (when you know you aren’t feeling it) or feeling guilty for not running.
A clear time frame away may also create anticipation for your eventual return.
And if you still aren’t feeling it as your return to running date approaches?
Worry about that when (or if) it happens.
While running might not be the right thing for you right now, it’s important, for both your body and your mind, to stay active.
Keep the fitness habit in your life by doing something.
Go for a walk (your feet do more than run ya know). Dig your bike out of the back corner of the garage. Try yoga or Pilates. Break out the dumbbells for some strength training. Sign up for an online dance class.
If You Take Time Off
This is the good news/bad news section…
While taking some time away from running can be just the ticket for you right now (and that is totally OK!), coming back from running after a break can feel… well… awkward.
While coming back from a break is a big topic worthy of its own post (excuse me a second while I add ‘coming back from a running break’ to my blog posts to write list…), for now, I’ll just say: adjust your expectations.
You won’t (and shouldn’t) immediately go back to your pre-break mileage.
As I learned firsthand a few weeks ago, the first runs back from an extended break can be a humbling experience.
Sure, I may have run an ultramarathon mere months ago (Really? Was that really only a few months ago?), but now, a 5k, at a comfortable pace, feels impossibly challenging.
There isn’t much you can do to avoid this, but anticipating it can (hopefully) make it a little less of a shock.
Enjoy your break. We’ll see you when you come back.