How to Deal When You’re Forced to Cut Back on Mileage
When running is your escape from the daily grind, the way you spend “me-time”, and your source of Zen, being ordered to cut back on your mileage can feel devastating. There are many reasons you could have to dial back your running – whether due to injury, trying to prevent injury, or when high intensity exercise causes adverse effects – yet even with doctors orders, we runners are a stubborn bunch and refuse to take this news lightly!
Whatever your reasons, here are 4 ways to not go crazy if you find yourself on the receiving end of a prescription for less running:
Get In Touch With Your Other Identities
Personally, I feel this is the toughest part of being told to cut back. If you’re only sidelined for a week or so, this probably won’t be an issue, but if your timeline is undetermined or over a month when having to deal with injuries such as knee pain, you can expect to grapple with a slight identity crisis. Running is a huge part of who you are and who you identify as. When running is forced on the back-burner, it’s easy to feel a little lost.
It’s good to remind yourself that running is only a part of who you are. Think of how your friends, family, and coworkers see you. They know you run, but that wouldn’t be the only word they would use to describe you! There are other things that bring you joy every day, so explore those and see what they say about the rest of your personality.
Reconnect With Forgotten Hobbies
You didn’t come running out of the womb. Think of what you did before you picked up running. What were you excited to do that got pushed out of the way once you started doing long runs every weekend and group runs during the week? This doesn’t have to be a physical hobby (we’ll get to that next!), but anything creative that makes you smile.
Start a project, learn how to knit, read those books you bought but never opened. You have more time now, spend it wisely!
Focus on What You Can Do
Accentuate the positive. You may not be able to run much, if at all, and maybe high impact activities are out all together, but that doesn’t mean you have to be a couch potato! Running is a wonderful stress reliever in no small part to the endorphins being released, but running isn’t the only way to get that endorphin surge. Try out new activities you couldn’t fit into your running schedule like swimming, spin class, weight training, or yoga and find other ways to challenge your body.
You’ve most likely been focused on running related goals, so switching that goal-oriented mindset to things like mastering a headstand, pull-up, or deadlift is a great way to stay engaged with a physical challenge while letting your body heal.
Remember This Isn’t Forever
When you’re accustomed to running 4+ days every week, a hiatus of even 3 weeks can seem like an eternity, much less instruction to lay off the running for months on end. You are going to feel like you’ll never run again, so it is imperative to put things in perspective. Think in terms of the big picture of your running career, and remind yourself that even a year off of running is merely a blip in terms of the years up to now and the years following that you’re able to run.
Visual confirmation can help confirm the abstract thought of the longevity of your relationship with running. Look at past training logs, log on to Athlinks and see all the races you’ve done, or pinpoint the year you started running and consider how many 80-year-old and over runners there are out there, still pounding the pavement. You may not run for 10 months, but what’s that compared to 25 years of running?
Have you been forced to take a hiatus from running?
What was the hardest thing about that time?
What helped you get through it?