Here are 21 ways to beat your current running slump forever.
- Develop a grand vision for your running and don’t be shy about it – If you’re feeling shitty about your fitness of late, develop a long-term vision for your running and work towards it. I broke my mid October 2012 slump by agreeing to enter the Paris Marathon 2013 and then planned out a schedule based upon that date. Dream big and run strong. Just be sure to set yourself definitive targets that you have enough time to get ready for.
- Don’t beat yourself up about running slowly or running shorter distances when you run again for the first time in a while - You can’t do anything about yesterday or tomorrow but you can only choose to seize today and live it to the best of your abilities. Even if it’s a simple as not eating another packet of fucking Skittles. Concentrate on running any distance at any speed, if the alternative is to do nothing at all.
- Ditch the procrastination now - If you keep saying that you’ll begin running again but never do it, ask yourself when you’ll start. Set definitive dates. Set distance targets. Enter races. 75% of runners who skip running in February won’t run again this year. If you won’t run this year, when will you run again?
- Stop setting yourself ridiculous goals - It’s easy to get excited in January with the New Year and plan a 90 minute half marathon for yourself when the best time you’ve ran is 3 hours. It’s a recipe for disaster and burn out. Evaluate where you are fitness wise and move up from there.
- Beware of judging yourself against others when you’re in a slump - When you’re starting out it’s natural to compare yourself to other runners who are at a similar level to yourself. If you suddenly stop running and they carry on as normal with their training, then you’ll quickly find yourself behind them. This is why I discourage people into compare themselves to other runners when their running is going well. By the sake token, you’ll feel even worse when they become better than you at running. Focus only on getting better yourself.
- Your personal best is yet to come - It can very hard to believe this when you feel like shit. But you set your own limits. I’m not gonna resort to cliche and say that ‘the sky’s the limit’. That’s bullshit. We live in a system where we work 9-5 and we are exploited by our employers so that we feel we are worth less than we really are. It’s in their interest to break your spirit so that you will sell yourself short and believe that you are fundamentally lacking. Set your own self worth and celebrate any success with your running whether it’s running your first 5k, or doing 10 miles for the first time and keep on keeping on.
- Practice the fine art of hatred with running - There are many fuckers out there who want you to fail with your running. There are too many out there who will naturally despise you, so why bother hating yourself? If you’re a depressive like I am, it helps to turn your hatred from yourself to the outside world and to let that fuel you onwards. Failure isn’t an option anymore when you truly hate so many fuckers. You don’t want them to win do you?
- Just because you’re in a running slump now doesn’t mean it will always be that way - The road back to your previous level of fitness may well be a tough one but it’s well worth enduring when the alternative is to sink back into your own mire.
- The public will judge you for being insane just for being a runner, ignore them and use their cynicism as fire - I’ve been ridiculed before by members of the public for running and being pretty shit at it. I’ve been argumentative with them before and asked “So then how did you find your last race?’. None of those who have criticised me seemed to have ran, yet they are resolute with comments like ‘I could easily do a half marathon if I tried’. The “if I tried” crowd could do anything if they “tried”. The problem is they don’t try because they are terrified of failure. When you start running you quickly realise that there is nothing wrong with trying and failing. All of my half marathon and marathon runs so far would seem like a failure to most. As a runner you quickly learn to accept failure as just another side of success. If you try nothing in your life you will neither fail or succeed. They will die having tried nothing for themselves.
- Stop making excuses about how now is not the right time to run again - Now is the only time you can change. You’re only on earth for a short period of time. You don’t want to get to the age where you can no longer run and regret not trying more when you were younger.
- Know that you won’t always hit walls in races - After my first marathon I was certain that they had to be painful. This is not the case. Last year’s marathon was easier and the next one will be even better. The purpose of each of your training runs should be to break down little walls each time so that you don’t hit the big wall in the race itself. Run that little bit further when your legs can carry you. When you do this, that wall will reduce in size just a little bit more.
- The “Running isn’t for me” excuse is bullshit – Running wasn’t for me either when I was younger except when I was tailing burger vans. I hated athletics in school and was more interested in eating chips and listening to music when I was 14, than running laps in sports. I’ve spent the last 2 years trying to shatter the illusion of what a runner should be. Running was pain for me then, it is getting more enjoyable with each run now. Claim running as your own and do it how you like it.
- Meet your only true running rival face to face - go into your bathroom and gaze into the mirror. The goofy looking fucker staring back will be your main rival from now onwards, especially if you are quite slow. This will make your mission going forward easier. Focus on bettering yourself and lighting up your own world whilst feeling no guilt or shame about who you are. And make sure you celebrate each time you achieve a PB too.
- Start your own running blog - write with your own internal voice and document your runs as much as you can including your feelings, failings and strengths. You can set up a blog for free on WordPress or Blogspot. Your running experiences might not seem like much to you but you at the time but what you write could help someone else who is struggling. The internet is littered with running blogs that start with “Ran x.xx miles” and end with “felt great”. It’s all of the shit that happens in between that we need to know about.
- Celebrate running and life - I ran at 5:30am under the promise that I could relax tonight with a bottle of wine and a pizza. If you are undertaking a hard running regime you sometimes need to live a little too. It helps to prevent burn out. Try not to see running as a sacrifice but something that will add endless amounts of joy to your life.
- Visualise how far you have ran with Google Maps - When I’m feeling low I try to comfort myself about how far I’ve come. I’ve ran 3,300 miles in 2 years, which was just another number until I consulted Google Maps. I’ve ran from Carrickfergus, Northern Ireland to Damascus, Syria. Considering what’s happening there right now, I think it’s time I started to make my way right back..
- On a serious note, measure your progress not by how far or fast run but by how much joy you feel when out on the road – When you love being out there, you’ll go out there more and progress will follow with it.
- By choosing to run today you’re not running merely for the sake of it, you’re running so that you will meet new friends at race meetings - The friends you meet from here onwards will shape your life for the better for the next 10 years. Running at awkward times of the day will seem easier when you think of it this way.
- If you have become discouraged about running because of how expensive it is then it needn’t be - You don’t need to change your shoes that often. You don’t need to buy expensive track wear. You don’t need to order supplements or drinks from the Internet. You just need shoes. And some clothes. Otherwise you might get arrested.
- If you aren’t making any progress with your running try some hill running - I’ve been trying to run between an average of 100-120m of elevation gain in each of my short runs and I’ve noticed that my stamina has increased dramatically. Before I was running a 10 minute mile at 65 percent effort, now it’s down to 50 percent and I run 9:30 minute miles at 65 percent. Not only will hill running make running on flat ground easier, but it allows you to take in some stunning local views.
- Running can lead to a greater appreciation of something bigger – I am not religious in the slightest but there’s something about it that leaves me feeling more connected to the Universe. There’s tremendous beauty in running alone under the sky and stars, all of my problems disappear. I lose track of who I am and want to farm chickens in a leper colony in Estonia.
I might meet you there some day in Tallinn.
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