In our last blog, we talked about having an on-track “off “season that doesn’t unravel all the hard work that you put in during the “on” or competitive season. But even the best and well-planned out “off” seasons can make coming back, to put it best, strenuous and tumultuous. Whether this is the comeback of getting back into shape after the season or starting a new job after a “funemployment,” we can sometimes run into pitfalls. The first step in returning to true form is avoiding common mistakes and learning how to maximize your mindset to feel like yourself again.
Since I love running, we are going to look at this in mile markers…
Mile Marker One….Be Patient!
Many of us are extremely guilty of this one. We think, “I have been on break for a couple of weeks (perhaps months? a year?..but hey who’s counting?), I’m going to hit the ground running!” Until you wake up the next morning feeling like you were run over by a semi truck. Remember, it took you time to get into shape before; it’s going to take time again. This can sometimes be the most frustrating part of returning. If you had a slight injury before, it is particularly important to be patient and trust that if you can do it once, you can do it again. As much as we want, we probably aren’t going to PR, have our best round, lift the heaviest weight, or receive employee of the month in our first attempt back after break.
Mile Marker Two… Be Aware.
One of the most critical parts of sport, exercise, or employment is our self-awareness. We become very good at being aware of how our body is feeling, how we are competing in relation to practice, and how we stack up in relation to those around us. When we take a break, we stop paying attention to this awareness. It is harder to gage since we haven’t been practicing. It is extremely critical to have constant check-ins when returning to true form. This will tell you if you are pushing too hard or not enough. Figure out what your effort is and trust that you can gage it properly. Your mind is like your personal barometer to gage that you are exhibiting the right amount of effort in relation to the task.
Mile Marker Three… No comparisons.
If there was one thing that would send me straight to sport psychology jail, this would be it. Unfortunately, this problem is two-fold. Don’t compare yourself to past “you.” We often think if I have run this time before, if I have been able to lift this weight, if I have been able to make this amount of sales, I should be able to do it again. Odds are this took time (please see Marker One). Comparisons in this manner only lead to feelings of inadequacy and frustration. Only do this if you are drawing upon these instances for momentum and motivation, not leading to resentment. Also, don’t compare yourself to others. We all have our own body, our own plan and way of doing things, and our own timeline for returning to form. Some people are blessed with the ability to regain form in what seems like minutes, but the rest of us mortals need time. Don’t be afraid of it. The best things take time and are built to last.
Mile Marker Four… Don’t be deterred.
In returning to true form, we might experience setbacks. Perhaps you have an injury, an extended sickness, or something happens in your personal life. As annoying as the expression is, “life isn’t fair.” Know that setback have a way of making you stronger. Remember why you started the journey in the first place. Why are you on the track you are? Find inspiration from the moments of strength and the reasons you do what you do. The return can be hard, but your mindset is what can carry you through it. Don’t be fixed on all the things that you can’t do yet, but instead, concentrate on the daily improvements you are making. If you have to return to mile marker one, that’s fine. It’s your process of return, so own it and enjoy it.