Where did the time go? If you’ve asked yourself this question recently, you’re definitely not alone. December seems like a distant memory now that we’re ambling slowly towards the spring, but for many people, getting fit again in the early part of a new year can be a real challenge.
Re-establishing your running routine is as much a mental challenge as a physical one. You feel out of the habit and, because the Christmas break is usually more indulgent than any other break you might feel like you’ll never get going again. Don’t put too much emphasis on your first training session. Instead of panicking, make a plan for when you’ll do your first session and also when your second and third runs will take place. If you know exactly when sessions two and three will be, there’s no pressure to push yourself too hard in session one.
Aim to get your training routine back into place, but don’t worry too much about what you’ll actually do during each session. Chances are that once you’re back in action you’ll rediscover your enjoyment and make good use of each workout. Begin with a plan of what sessions you’ll do on what days to get you going again. Start with two sessions this week, three next week and then keep a record of the number of sessions completed each week on your fridge or phone. This will give you the satisfaction of knowing that you’re sticking to your schedule.
Set yourself some running objectives for the next few weeks and make sure you set specific deadlines. If you have key events or targets to aim for, you won’t be able to avoid getting back into the swing of things sooner rather than later. When thinking about your objectives and the training plan that will help you to achieve them, consider adding some new elements to your routine. Sometimes, aiming to replicate a previous routine isn’t enough to keep you motivated, but if you know there’s something fresh in your programme you’ll be spurred into action.
If you suspect that you might be a little out of shape after the Christmas break, this can be a good moment to set some benchmark times for specific distances or routes. You’ll either be pleasantly surprised to find that you’re not as unfit as you thought you were, or you’ll know that you can do better, which will drive you on to make your training count so you can achieve better times before too long.
Instead of trying to pick up where you left off before Christmas, make your training runs shorter or slower than before. You can also include walk breaks. By easing yourself back into running, you’ll either be satisfied that you’ve completed your planned workout or feel encourage if you could have managed a bit more. Avoid running too fast or too far as you might have to ease off, and that could further damage already fragile motivation levels.
For the first couple of weeks that you’re back in action, make sure that you allow yourself sufficient recovery time between training sessions and add some extra stretching after and between runs. You may have one or two areas that have tightened up a little over the break but don’t worry, everything will loosen up again soon enough.
Written by Jeff Archer for Women’s Running magazine (UK). For more great training advice, new gear reviews and inspiration, subscribe today!