One of the toughest things about losing your running mojo, is that you also fall out of touch with the entire running community – a community which normally inspires you to get out there.
You may have noticed I have been quiet on social media recently, and some of you have even sent me messages asking if I am alright/disappeared off the face of the planet. I am completely ok – thank you to those who checked in – other than I have completely lost my motivation to exercise. As a result, I have not had very much to post about.
I always try to be honest about my relationship with exercise, and not shy away from the low as well as celebrating the highs. I have written a few times since lockdown began about my struggle to find the place for running in each new “normal” – usually these finish with a positive story about going back out for my first run and how great that was.
I guess there are only so many times you can post about not wanting to run when the purpose of your account is to share the positive benefits of exercise.
In the past four weeks I think I have managed three runs. But for once, I have not wanted to post anything about them online – because the truth is I have had more than a few false starts. I don’t want to be the “Come-back kid who cried wolf”!
Also, each time I go back out after another fortnight off, it gets progressively harder. Unlike the academic goals I have had my whole life, the ability to run never just stays with you. Or at least not for me! I find it crushing arriving back from a session that used to be your ‘easy run’ feeling like I am about to have a heart attack.
The tricky thing though, is that when you do not have any runs to post about, or silly selfies to share, you stop interacting with the running community. You lose touch with the friends who given you motivation and inspiration – who remind you how much better it makes you feel, by sharing how much it has helped them.
At a time when it is so hard to stay connected in real life through running clubs or parkruns, the virtual community could not be more important.
It is a negative spiral, that I have found really hard to break.
There have been a million good reasons why I did not push myself to run, and I stand by them. Lockdown brought us all many challenges. For me there was a huge shift in priorities and what felt ‘important’, but also a return to nightshift work which left me exhausted. Ironically, when my clinical work took a reprieve, I got so absorbed in organising a wellbeing event for the profession that I failed to take much care of my own wellbeing.
Now three months have gone by, the biggest thing is that I have simply lost the habit, and habits are so much trickier to form than they are to simply continue.
I am writing this after the second of what I have titled on Strava my “Comeback Runs”. I won’t end this with another declaration that this is it, I have remembered how great running is and now I’m back, because I have written that before and it feels disingenuous now (even though I really hope it is the truth).
Instead, the thing I will do to help myself is to re-find my friends in the running community on social media. I want to share in their sessions, give them encouragement, and soak up their enthusiasm and motivation by virtual osmosis, whether I have been out myself or not. No more hiding behind the screen, feeling like an impostor. It is so much easier to find your passion with other people to help you.
You can find me on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook under @thisvetruns
It would be lovely to say hello!