Re-establishing a Running Routine

A gorgeous day on the trails might be enough to pull any runner out of a slump!
A gorgeous day on the trails might be enough to pull any runner out of a slump!

I have a confession to make: I did’t run for almost 4 months. Okay, so that might not seem too crazy. But it’s the longest break I’ve taken in almost four years since I began my running/fitness journey. In those four years I ran a full marathon, five half marathons, several 5Ks and countless trail and road races of other distances. From mid-July to November 2015 I ran zero miles.

2015 running stats showing no activity in the months of August, September and November.
Full disclosure: I’ve put up some terrible running stats this year. But note the complete lack of anything for August, September and October. Yikes!

Now, it’s not like I was a total slob – I went on some great bike rides, many walks, and even some pretty amazing hikes during that time. I took some yoga classes, joined an indoor beach volleyball team and got in a few nice gym workouts. I also wasn’t without my reasons for taking a hiatus, which I am choosing to keep private for the time being. But the fact remains that the long break started to cause some palpable physical, mental and possibly even emotional changes. I didn’t feel like myself when I wasn’t running, but for some reason getting started again felt so difficult. Why is that?

Photo of running sneakers and iPhone armband.
I wonder if my running shoes enjoyed their vacation?

Sometimes, especially when it comes to fitness routines, it feels like starting again means starting over. According to Active.com, “it takes about seven to 14 days for your aerobic fitness to start declining.” The full impact of taking a few months off depends on a number of factors, including the intensity and frequency of your running. For me, as you can tell from those MapMyRun distance stats, I wasn’t running consistently prior to my hiatus. Not only was I likely facing a significant loss in aerobic fitness, but my body’s structural fitness was suffering as well. I became apprehensive to get out and run, knowing I would be nowhere near my peak or even previous fitness level.

A sunny fall day on the Genesee Riverway Trail.
This is what awaited me on my first post-hiatus run in Turning Point Park. I couldn’t ask for better running conditions.

You might be wondering, what finally changed? Well, I think the stars aligned a bit and I worked up the courage to just strap on the ol’ running shoes and make my body do the thing that used to feel as natural as eating or breathing. Here in Rochester, we’ve been blessed with a few exceptionally warm and mostly sunny days to start the month of November. Thanks to the ending of Daylight Saving Time, I’ve found a new motivation to wake up early (gasp!) and run outside in order to savor the only hours of daylight not spent at work. I’ve only logged 3 runs so far since the beginning of the month, and I’m feeling a bit sluggish but overjoyed to be back at it. I’m looking forward to rebuilding some speed and endurance and setting some new running goals for 2016 and beyond!

View of boardwalk over the Genesee River through trees.
Looking at the Genesee River boardwalk from the wooded trails in Turning Point Park. According to social media, that section was a highlight of the MVP Rochester Marathon’s new course. 2016 goal race?!

What are your running goals? Share your experiences in the comments below!

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3 thoughts on “Re-establishing a Running Routine

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