The more distant I become from something I enjoy, the less "connection" I feel with it, and the enjoyment derived from it. I can forget that the reward for putting in the effort is more than enough to justify making the effort. For some people, this seems not to be a major issue, but for me it's a big one. If I lay off running too long, I lose sight to some extent of the link between my running experiences and my mental and physical state. Starting to run again after laying off or slowing down in my training can feel like scaling a cliff I've scaled before a hundred times. I am disappointed at what I've lost, find the going difficult, and can be bored with what I have to do to get back to the top of my game, and have begun to lose sight of how much I gain from my involvement in the sport. A little of the "fire" is gone.
In looking for ways to rekindle that fire, I find that meeting up and talking to other people who enjoy running helps. While I may not be ready to do my best in a race, I sometimes force myself to enter one when I'm not quite trained up, just to restore my connection with the sport and rekindle the flame that drives me to improve myself. When I get out there and do something, I'm never sorry I did.
Fortunately, social media facilitates this.
This weekend, I ran the Bacon Bits race with a friend from my youth who recently moved to Colorado, and today I ran a Tortoise & Hare club race with the Fort Collins Running Club, so I've had a lot of good opportunity to reconnect with both aspects of the sport or running that appeal to me (camaraderie and competition).