Five tips for getting back running this autumn

Take some time out now to plan how you are going to ensure this comeback will be a successful one

Getting back running is high up the to-do list for many of us after a busy summer.

Now is the perfect time for a running reboot as we still have bright evenings, warm days and glorious autumn colours to look forward to. So, don’t wait until winter looms and motivation dips to try and muster the motivation to get out the door. Instead, let’s make September the month you start running again.

A successful comeback

If you are serious about making a comeback to running sooner rather than later, one of the best things you can do is take some time out now to plan how you are going to ensure this comeback will be a successful one. Grab a pen and take five minutes now to consider what you can do to thrive in your running return. Let’s work out how you will stay motivated and basically how you will avoid falling off the wagon a few weeks into your new routine this autumn. Let me ask you five questions :

1) Reasons to Run

So why is it you want to get back running in the first place? We all have our different reasons for running, so write down what it is you love so much about running and what you have missed by not running recently. How does running make you feel and what makes running fun? This will be a handy list to reread when you do need a motivation boost. It is also a constant reminder of what you can look forward to if you follow through on your great intentions.


2) Fitting it in

Where will you find the time to start running again? Be realistic about your calendar and decide where in your week you will fit in your training. If you can treat your running sessions like diary appointments that are non-negotiable you will be significantly more likely to stick to your routine. We all can find the time somewhere, the question is if you really want to find the time. If so, what are you willing to move down your to-do list to ensure your training sessions happen. Commit now to which days of the week and time of the day you will run.

3) Finding a plan

What training plan will you follow and what are your running goals? Once you have your training days in your diary, the next step is to be realistic about what type of training sessions are suitable for you. Only look 8 weeks into your running future for now. Consider following a walk/run beginners programme to build endurance and confidence gradually if you have been off the road for a while. Whatever training plan you choose to follow, aim to build distance safely, slowly and consistently. You are much less likely to get injured and you will enjoy your running all the more.

4) Getting Support

Who is going to be your cheerleader this autumn? Who will give you the encouragement when you need it, the pat on the back or that kick out the door when you are making excuses? We all have days where we struggle to get out the door and run. Having running buddies by your side or a supportive voice at home or at the end of the phone can be a great motivator. From coaches to running clubs, friends to family – you probably know already that person who can lift you up on a bad day and carry you onwards for another kilometre. Write down their names and work out how they can help you this autumn. Even better, can you help them also with their running?

5) A date in the diary

Is there a parkrun near you or a 5k race you can put in your diary as you first big milestone? Find one that fits your schedule and sign up. It is so important to celebrate your comeback and what better way than having a race in the diary. A 5k distance event around Halloween would be ideal for anyone returning to running this autumn whether your goal was to build running minutes or indeed speed. Five kilometres is the perfect launch point for future running goals and there is nothing like crossing that finish line to inspire you to set a new goal. Could you get others to join you too and make a day of it? Pop it in the diary now and imagine how it will feel to complete it.

Accept the hurdles

You can certainly get back running this autumn, but you have to remember that it won’t all be easy. The first few weeks can be particularly mentally tough as you build routine and get frustrated that what was once easy is now an effort. We all experience waves of discomfort, doubt, frustration or boredom on our running comebacks. You are completely normal if you are the same. Don’t give up. Keep going back to the notes you have written to the questions above when you feel a motivational dip.

Eight weeks from now

But once you get over the initial hurdles it becomes easier. Running becomes fun, enjoyable and so much less effort. You will wonder why you didn’t start back sooner. Once you have your clear plan of where you are heading, the reasons you want to get there, the people who are in your corner and the reward at the finish line, you can visualise your running future. All these components come together to help you turn that running dream into reality.

So go on, these next eight weeks are going to fly by anyhow, I reckon it is the perfect time you treated yourself to something just for you.

- Sign up for one of The Irish Times’s Get Running programmes (it is free!) First, pick the eight-week programme that suits you.

  • Beginner Course: A course to take you from inactivity to running for 30 minutes.
  • Stay On Track: For those who can squeeze in a run a few times a week.
  • 10km Course: Designed for those who want to move up to the 10km mark. Best of luck!

- Mary Jennings is founder and running coach with Her autumn running programmes kick off in Dublin and online in early September.