Sticking with it
Running can sometimes be a difficult journey and one of the things that we have to accept as runners that at times running can be hard, there will be ups and downs in your training, you can’t feel fantastic with every run that you do and you can’t always achieve a PB in every race that you run. You will experience a “plateau” where it just seems impossible to improve on your times and you may experience such negativity that you simply can’t summon up the energy to get out of the front door. What can make this worse is watching everyone else’s success so how do you deal with the negativity that can creep into your head? Do other people feel the same way as me, has anyone else lost their mojo? Did anyone else not want to just quit on that last mile and curl up because they thought they were going to die?
These ups and downs are all natural and part of the journey to progression so try not to be too down about it, lapses are normal so the trick is to make sure they don’t become anything more serious so that you end up giving up completely.
I have found in my experience that one of the main reasons that people drop out of running is because they don’t think/feel that they are good enough and this can be because they don’t get the results that they hoped for. The amazing transformation that people experience when they first learn to run, (do you remember going from 1 minute to running a full 10 mins within 5 weeks?) can have a profound effect on how they feel when the results don’t come as quickly or as often.
This could be for a number of reasons, maybe the results that were expected were unrealistic, we are surrounded by running forums where people share their success’s and achievements, the medals, the t-shirts, the glory, they make it look easy. People are treating marathons like 10k’s and this can often puzzle us and make us question what am I doing wrong when the usual 3-mile route hurts like hell.
Maybe you are not training in the right way, are you doing the same thing each week and not adjusting your pace or increasing your distance or even decreasing your distance as you may be overtraining.
The main thing is to keep perspective, look at the whole picture of what is going on in your life and don’t worry if you are having a down period, it doesn’t mean that you should stop running and it’s not for you. Think about how far you have come already and think about where you want to get to. Put the stick down that you beat yourself up with and have a bit of a “Spring Clean” of your running.
Sort your running clothes out, donate or throw away kit that you haven’t worn for 3 months and wear the kit that makes you feel good.
Do a base line assessment of where you are right now, this maybe a parkrun, don’t kill yourself getting around, but run comfortably, finish and record it. What would you like to achieve now and how do you get there? What do I need to do to get there safely and without injury?
Is your lifestyle slowing you down? Are you getting enough sleep and rest? The body needs to adapt to the stress of running and it needs to recover, rest days and sleep are all part of any good training plan.
How stressed are you? The body can only cope with a certain amount of stress so don’t expect it to perform if you are experiencing stress at home and work. Raising a family/working/looking after the house etc are all really stressful events so don’t underestimate how much this can affect your running. Try not to make running another stress, just accept that life is busy at the moment, it won't always be like this and just use running as an outlet, a tool to help you get through this period. There will always be more 10k's, half marathons, marathons even, be kind to yourself and enjoy the pure pleasure of running for fun.
What is your diet like?
Are you eating enough? We can be obsessed with how we look and how much food we eat but really ask yourself, are you getting enough calories in to fuel your body? A car won’t run efficiently without fuel, the same goes for the body.
Do have low iron levels or are borderline anemic. This is something I hear all the time, female runners are particularly at risk, get your ferritin and iron levels checked.
Are you chronically dehydrated. We can get caught up with not drinking enough during the day that we run because we don’t want to go to the loo when we are running. But being dehydrated is dangerous and can make you feel tired and sluggish. Your urine should be a pale straw colour.
Are you eating enough carbohydrate? It’s the body’s preferred fuel source for high intensity activity so don’t be fooled into thinking you can diet or cut carbs while running a lot – you can’t.