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Ask A Coach: How To Get Excited About Training Again

NCAA runner turned high school coach Hillary Kigar has an answer for all things training! 

Q: I ran a marathon two months ago. I took some time off  but am having trouble getting excited about racing again. What can I do reignite the spark?

Don’t stress too much about not feeling stoked to run right away. The last thing you want to do is force yourself back into training. No one runs fast when they aren’t happy—that’s a fact! This could be a great opportunity to spend some time focusing on training for a shorter distance race and working on your speed. Pick a 10K, 5K or even a 1-mile race, and implement some faster runs and workouts into your training schedule. Changing up the distance may not only give you the mental spark you’re missing right now—but it may also help you build some speed that will come in handy when you are ready to train for your next 26.2-miler.

Related: How Should I Breathe When Running

Q: I almost always get a headache in the hours after a long run. What’s up with this, and what can I do to prevent it?

Your headaches are most likely a result of fatigue, dehydration or an electrolyte imbalance. You can’t do much about the first cause, but you can remedy the second two. Drink a couple of glasses of water earlier in the day before you run, or if you push out early in the morning, take in extra water the night before. It’s just as important to stay fueled. For runs lasting longer than one hour, consume something with electrolytes and carbohydrates. Energy gels or chews are good options and they have all kinds of flavors, from mixed berry to chocolate peanut butter. If your headaches persist or worsen, definitely talk to your doctor.

Related: Best Form for Running Hills

Q: What’s the best way to tell the difference between being out of shape and being over-trained?

One of the easiest ways is to take a look back at your training over the last couple of weeks. Has your mileage been consistent? Has your intensity reduced? Be honest with yourself; if you answered ‘no’ to those questions, most likely you are just still getting back into shape and not quite there yet. If you have had a consistent stretch of training and just feel burned out and low on energy, it could be that you need to scale back the number of miles you are running for a week or so to give your body a break. Regardless, be patient! All good things come with time.

Coach Kigar’s Tip: Keep Calm and Log On

It is a good idea for runners of every level to keep a training log. It can be as simple as: “December 5, 2014: Ran 4 miles, 40 min. 32 sec. Felt great.” Or you can really be detailed: “Ran on the Skyline Trail and saw three deer in the first 3 miles! It was a little rainy and the trail was a bit muddy…” You can use a notebook or diary, such as the Believe Training Journal ($19, velopress.com), or utilize online tools, such as Flotrak or Strava. Keeping track of what you do each day is important when it comes to identifying what contributed to an injury or what workout was key to helping you get faster. Plus, if you ever doubt yourself, you can look back at your log for proof of how strong you really are!