Overcoming a Running Lull

Running has played a varied focus in my life over the past ten years, sometimes I’m obsessed with it and sometimes it’s just a thing I do occasionally. But over the course of 2017 I started to lose interest in it. I have no idea why or what caused it, but I just started to care less. I was missing races that I’d paid to do, I was barely training and I even got to the point where I was thinking about giving up completely. I just assumed running was a phase of my life I was growing out of and that I probably just needed to find a new hobby.

I remember a friend saying to me “you’ve not done a lot of running recently”. In my mind I felt a pang of guilt that I’d neglected it, but then had a realisation that I didn’t actually mind. I had other stuff to do. Work was ridiculously busy, I was moving into a new flat, I seemed to be getting invited to a lot of evenings out. It was becoming more of a hassle than a the enjoyment it used to be. Maybe this is what happens after a few years, I thought, maybe I’m just bored of it.

For the last few months of the year I was doing a few races, but my heart wasn’t completely in it. I got up, started running, finished the race and picked up my medal, then went home. My times weren’t as high as they used to be and I knew when I was running that I wasn’t putting as much effort in as I could be. I always felt good about running, like I’d earned myself the fun the rest of the weekend had in store for me, but it was really just that. I was exercising so I could go and do the stuff I really enjoyed. That’s all it was really, exercise.

I was still just as obsessed with fitness, perhaps even more so, but where once I used to run home after work, now I was going to HIIT classes or getting up early for an extra weights session. The races I was doing were largely there to tick a box that I mentally created in my mind, I’m a runner, I have to run.

Something happened after Christmas though. Every year I tend to go through a stage of additional training for a few weeks to minimise the damage done over the festive season, by which I mean putting on a bit of extra weight and losing some of my fitness. However, over the past few weeks something seemed to have just clicked. I’ve started running more than I have for pretty much three years, I’m actively minimising drinking and unhealthy foods and I’m starting to really focus on getting my times down in races. For the first time in literally years, I’m running because I want to run and not because I’m enjoying the competition of a race.

It’s strange because there hasn’t really been a catalyst. Sure, I wanted to lose a bit of weight, but normally I do that with the gym and diet. No, it seems more like something in my mind has just suddenly switched on and made me love running again.

I tried many times over the last year to beat my lull. I signed up to loads of races, I tried to force myself to train and I sat and read books on running to try to spark my interest. Inevitably you can’t force your way out of a lull though. If something in your life isn’t right for the time then it just isn’t right. Sure I was still a runner, it was still there, but it wasn’t even close to being a priority in my life.  And if you force yourself to do something that you should enjoy then it becomes a negative. You’ll dread every second of it and you may actively start hating it.

A lull may be your mind telling you to give something a rest. It doesn’t mean you need to stop, but you shouldn’t worry about it. Then, when the time comes to focus on it again you won’t have built up any negativity towards it.

I’m now 11 races into 2018 and about 200km. It’s the most running I’ve ever done in a one month period and it doesn’t even seem like a chore. If you’d have asked me to do that this time last year I’d have probably laughed in your face. I have no idea how long it’ll last for, and if it goes away again, fine. But at this moment in time, running is going pretty damn well. I’ll enjoy it while I can.

Picture Credits: Virgin Sport, Wings for Life