Unfortunately, from time to time, obstacles are put in front of us that temporarily prevent us from getting everything that we think we should be getting out of our training.
Of course, the extent or severity of these obstacles can vary from person to person and between the obstacles themselves.
If you run into any obstacles, you may want to make some changes to your training plan or take a complete break to recharge your batteries or figure out what you want to do next. As with so many things in running, there is rarely a standard answer that will be the same for everyone.
No matter what you might think you know about a person, their successes haven’t been achieved without overcoming some obstacles. Past experiences and support system are two of the things that can help someone get past a setback and keep moving forward towards their goals.
There are countless examples of potential obstacles, but here are some of them and what you can do to overcome them:
Injury// Fortunately, I haven’t had much experience with major injuries that required long layoffs and/or recovery time. I have had plenty of aches, pains, strains and maybe a sprain or two. For anything less serious, it’s best to just take it easy for a few days and see how you are feeling after that. Taking it easy can mean different things to different people, so do what you feel is best for you.
For more serious injuries (breaks, tears, etc.), do everything your doctor or physical therapist says to properly recover before getting back to any running and then adjust your training plan once you are given the go ahead. Most importantly, be patient with your recovery and allow yourself to get completely better before returning to any serious training.
Motivation Drop// No matter your experience level, everyone has likely experienced a drop in motivation at one time or another. Whether just for one day or week or an even longer time period. It could just be that you need a mental break from running or maybe it would be a good idea to change things up a little bit.
Run some different routes, buy a new pair of shoes, sign up for a race or take part in a virtual challenge. If none of these work, then maybe it’s time for a break altogether. Once you feel motivated again, you’ll be good to go!
Busy Calendar// Everyone has different schedules and they tend to get busier from time to time with work, family or something else. This is where I will say that it’s so important to plan the time to run or exercise just like you would for any other event. It doesn’t have to be a specific plan or anything like that, but could be just as simple as what time of day you will have a chance to run or even what day or days that you will have a little time to get a run in during any given week.
Post-Race or Training Cycle Letdown// Sometimes, in the days and weeks after a race or at the end of a training cycle for a race, there can be the thought of “what’s next?” After all, you’ve just worked very hard to be in peak condition for a race and now you’re left wondering where to go from here. This can be the case even if you did really well in the race and reached your target.
What has usually worked for me is setting some new targets or even registering for another race a few months away to give yourself a new challenge and something new to prepare for. Again, this might be another one where some people would like a break and some time to recuperate.
Dip in Confidence// Confidence can be one of the most powerful assets a runner can have, but can also come and go with seemingly no explanation at all. One day you’re running strong and full of confidence; the next day you aren’t sure if you can make it to the end of the street.
There’s no quick fix or instant cure to fill you with confidence again. Sometimes, you just need to ride it out and slowly build it back up again with some easier workouts.
With any obstacle that you might come up against, it’s important to trust the process of running and of growing as a runner.
There is always going to be ebbs and flows, ups and downs.
Knowing and understanding that things won’t always be perfect might help you mentally prepare for when there might be a setback.
Don’t feel bad or guilty if you have to limit your activity levels as part of the process of overcoming whatever setback you come up against.
And always remember that getting through obstacles or difficult times makes the successes feel even better!