The longer one goes without running — or blogging — the harder it is to start up again.
I was thinking about this on my run yesterday, which was my first in about two weeks. Two Saturdays ago, I landed funny on my right leg, and felt a stabbing pain in my shin. Ugh. I ended up walking-jogging to finish my run that afternoon. I got home and iced, and then decided I would take a break from running until I felt like impact wouldn’t hurt as much as it did that day.
I iced a bit more now and again, rode my bike around town, and generally started feeling better. By yesterday, I bargained with myself: perhaps some impact would be okay; perhaps my leg will heal even better with a little bit.
And so, knowing it wouldn’t feel exactly good (even though I myself was feeling pretty good and even a bit antsy), I thought I would give a short run a go yesterday.
I ended up glad that I did. It felt good to be outside and to get some exercise, and my leg hurt only a little at the outset and then I didn’t feel it much. It ached once I got home and I iced again last night.
All this to say, that while I was running yesterday, I came up with a short list of things to help one get back in the groove, whether for running or writing:
- Take it easy. You are not going to be able to run a marathon or write War and Peace on your first return to the track or the page. Do what you want to and what you can without hurting yourself, physically or mentally.
- Give yourself treats — coffee breaks, nice views, chocolate, flowers to stop and photograph. These things are refreshing, and motivational. They give you a chance to process, and to breathe. (Getting to a view is especially motivating for me while I’m on a run. Getting to a chocolate break is more so for writing than running.
- It’s good to have a baseline goal — for me, say, to run a 5k for my first time out after a while, or to write 500 words after a bit of a dry spell. Setting a modest goal lets you feel good when you blow past that marker. Or it can be motivation to keep going when you feel you cannot — just a little bit more and you’re there, and then you can stop! Though more often, with a bit of momentum behind you and the victory of reaching that goal, you’ll probably keep going, whether in mileage or words.
- Listen to your body and brain while you are in the middle of your workout or your work — that’s true for running and writing. If it hurts too much to pound the pavement, if it’s too hard mentally to pull those words out and onto the page, then take a break. (See number one.) Take it easy: walk a while, then jog. Or pound out 100 words, then stand up and walk around your desk a few times, and come back to write 100 more. Slow and steady, and you can get there.
- Remember it might hurt a little afterwards — you haven’t been using those muscles for a while. Ice, relax, eat well. I’m not sure what the equivalent is for writing. Is icing something like watching a mindless movie? Or going for a run?! Definitely relax and eat well. That’s just a good thing to do, no matter what.
Now I just have to remind myself to do these things, and to keep running and writing…