A forced break from working out is every runner’s worst nightmare. Unfortunately, it is a rite of passage most runners go through at one point or another. From injury to pregnancy to a crazy-busy schedule, sometimes you just can’t run—and you just can’t take it. When those circumstances demand time off it can feel like the end of the world, and it’s easy to spiral into despair and to feel a certain amount of depression while you wait to recover.
So what can you do to stay positive when you’re on a forced running hiatus? While staying as physically active as you’re able can help, focusing on the mental aspect of your time off is even more important. Keeping up with your favorite running blogs, websites or magazines is a great way to stay involved, as is staying in touch with your regular running buddies. But one of the best ways to keep your mental game sharp and your spirits high is to make a plan.
This doesn’t mean just saying you’ll run three miles a day when you’re feeling better; the key is to be as detailed and specific as possible. Writing down every aspect of your plan is key to both surviving your time off and a successful return to running, so if you have a rough idea of when you’ll be able to start running again, grab a calendar and circle that date. Then set a long-term goal for yourself; maybe you want to be back at your 5K pace within two months or be prepared for a half marathon at the end of the season. From there, write out a training schedule with your weekly goals and definitive workouts that will get you there.
Make sure to consult your work and social calendars to ensure there won’t be any conflicts that could interfere with your workouts; you want everything set in stone to make achieving your goals as effortless as possible. It’s also smart to look ahead to what gear you’ll need; are you due for a new pair of shoes or will you need warmer or cooler clothes depending on the weather when you start back up? Make a list and take yourself shopping on a Saturday morning when you’d usually go for your long run (and feel free to treat yourself to a double latte if you’re still feeling low).
While making a plan for your comeback certainly won’t shorten the time you have to take off from running, keeping yourself focused and positive will make it much easier to get through. So use some of your newfound free time to craft the perfect comeback, and you’ll be running again before you know it.