How to Overcome a Setback in Your Running Program

running setbacks

From time to time, we all will experience some sort of setbacks in our running and exercise program.  In fact, setbacks are just a part of life.  How we deal with those setbacks often defines who we are as a person.  The longer you work at this, the more chance you will have some issue that will prevent you from running.  The question is, what should you do to get back onto a running program, if you have some sort of setback that has kept you from running for some period of time.

My great concern is not whether you have failed, but whether you are content with your failure.
–Abraham Lincoln

Just last week, I myself had a case of bronchitis.  I could not sleep for a few nights, and at one point it felt like someone was using a cheese grater on my chest…   ouch!  Anyway, that is one reason why I missed a couple of days of posting last week.  I do apologize for missing a day or two, by the way.  I was truly out of commission from life for a couple days, and am sure you understand.  I missed work one day, and I missed running for three or four days.  Today, I was able to roll back onto the pavement and go for an easy run, and I am trying to get back to my normal routine. Hopefully I will be able to give you some ways that you can get back to your running routine after a setback as well.

Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.
James 1:12-15 (The Bible)

So, there are many things or setbacks that may prevent you from running.  Some of the common issues may include, illness, injury, family issues, work issues, vacation, or other disturbances to your schedule.  If you are like I was with my case of bronchitis, then you could not run because your body needed rest more than it did exercise.  Or, maybe you sprained your ankle, and needed to stay off the foot for a while.  Perhaps you went on vacation, and just got out of your normal routine.  While I would hope you would try to maintain some kind of routine, even then, at this point, the reality is you are off the schedule and you need to get back on it.

So, here are some points to keep in mind when trying to get back into a running program after a setback.

  • Do not beat yourself up – For whatever reason you have been setback, at this point, it really does not matter.  What matters is whether you will improve from here forward.  Beating yourself up, and by getting angry or upset at what happened will not make things better.  Just make a goal, and work toward meeting your running goals each day.
  • Ease back into it – Another key to overcoming a setback is to take it slow.  You will lose some of your fitness with time, and the longer you are out of commission the more fitness you lose.  So, it is important to back the duration and distance off a bit from where you were before.  From a  mental standpoint, it also helps to ramp up your running gradually as well.  If you were following one of the running schedules in this blog, then just move back and adjust depending on how long you were out.  You will likely move through the schedule more quickly the second time, so feel free to adjust the running schedule accordingly.
  • Get going – Sometimes, we talk ourselves into circles, and keep putting off what we know we need to start.  I know it will be hard but, once you are ready, then just get going.  You may not be able to run as far or fast as you could before the setback, and that is not the point.  The big thing to focus on right now is just to get back into a routine.  Then you can build up from there.
  • Do not try to be a hero – If you want to know a quick and easy way to get injured, then go ahead and be a hero right after you have been out of commission for a while.  Your body needs a transition that is smooth.  For example, do not think that you can go run 6 miles after being out of a running routine for 3 weeks.  If you do not get injured, you will certainly pay for it with muscle soreness over the next few days.
  • Reminder:  Get some support – If you have a good support of friends and fellow runners, then it is less likely that you will get out of your running program due to voluntary reasons, and easier to get back to running when you are out due to involuntary reasons.
  • Reminder:  Review the basics – It may be a good idea, if you have been out of commision for a while, to go back and review the basic running tips for beginners.   You may also want to review proper running form , proper warm up and cool down, and running stretches as well so that you stay healthy.

What Do You Think?
What are some things that have set you back from running before, and who did you get back to a running program?

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