The Endurance Runner’s Guide to Starting Again After Calling It Quits

At one time, you might have had a success story about endurance running. Maybe you had the resolve to begin and you saw an amazing transformation in your life: you watched the pounds fall off, the pant sizes drop, and your energy go up. You finished marathon after marathon and never felt better.

But somewhere along the way, you fell off the wagon. Maybe a string of holidays sabotaged your diet and you never recovered. Maybe an injury sidelined you and you just never go back into the rhythm of running. Life got busy.

Whatever the reason, you just never got to running again. Maybe that lead to putting the pounds back on, the “fat pants” came back out, and you found yourself feeling discouraged and ashamed as all of the progress you saw slipped through your fingers.

Is it even worth starting again if you’re just going to blow it?


This is why and this is how you can jump start your running routine after you fell off the wagon.

5 Ways to Revive a Failed Endurance Running Routine

1) Be okay with fluctuations.

We put so much weight on every little fluctuation when it comes to health and exercise that our mood and even our self-worth can hinge on whether or not we ran a “good” time that day or if the scale read up or down a pound or two from the day before. In some regards, this is like checking up on the appreciation of a long-term investment every single day. It will drive you crazy to put so much stock in the minute day-to-day fluctuations.

Track your progress, absolutely. But don’t put so much weight in small changes (versus the overall trends) that you get discouraged and quit. This is the cycle that traps so many of us and ultimately prevents long-term, sustainable change.

Pay attention to long-term trends, not the minute fluctuations.

2) Start small.

Don’t get discouraged because you’re not where you used to be. You have to start back at square one, and that’s okay. Learn to be okay with starting again. If you try to run full throttle you will only discourage and potentially injure yourself! Ease into your routine by starting from the beginning. Walk first. Warm yourself up. Listen to your body.

If you can walk for 45 minutes without pain or injury, you’re ready to run.

3) Get your diet right.

A healthy runner is nothing without a healthy diet. If you fell off of the wagon nutritionally, make sure you make your efforts are holistic. Don’t just focus on hitting the gym, work on what you eat, too. Focus on a nutrient-packed diet that maximizes leafy greens and lean meats (if you want! I have eliminated meat from my diet, mostly by accident). Consult your physician or a nutritionist who can help you develop a specific meal plan based on your nutritional needs and health goals, versus picking a popular diet.

4) Strength train.

One of the best ways to get back to running and peak physical condition is to strength train. Cross-training by adding strength training to your cardio workout will help you tolerate longer runs more quickly. You’re focusing on making your body stronger and building your endurance. Overall, strength training is highly beneficial to runners and it’s a great tool, especially as you build back up to tip-top shape. Working your glutes, hips, and lower abs are particularly beneficial as targeted areas.

5) Celebrate your victories.

Lastly, celebrate your victories. It can be all-too easy to beat yourself up for falling off of the wagon in the first place, and so subsequent slip ups make for easy excuses to quit again. Don’t let yourself do it. Instead, make a habit of exercising positive reinforcement. Celebrate positive efforts and behaviors. Allow yourself to feel good about your progress and the good steps you’re taking. Remember: it is so much easier to stay a quitter. You’re no quitter.

You’re rising to the challenge, getting back up again, even if it takes a hundred times.

When it comes to endurance running, it takes just that: endurance. You will experience seasons of falling off and seasons of returning. Be okay with that and get back up when you fall off. It takes diligence and resolve to create extraordinary change in ordinary people!

What motivates you to get back up after you fall off the wagon? Share your stories in the comments.