Life happens, and sometimes we find ourselves taking a break from running. Whether it’s due to an injury, lack of motivation, or other responsibilities, getting back into the groove can be intimidating. But don’t worry! With the right approach and a little patience, you can make a successful comeback and get back on track with your running routine.
I recently started running again for the first time since before I had my baby. I started off short and slow – a run that took about 20 minutes and then built up there. Now, I am back to running 5k all in one go. Slowly, but I’m getting there.
So I wanted to explore the best strategies for starting running again after a break, incorporating tips from various sources to provide you help you get back into running.
- Evaluating Your Fitness Level
- Setting Realistic Goals
- Starting Slow and Building a Strong Foundation
- Avoiding Injuries and Incorporating Cross-Training
- Rest and Recovery
- Incorporating Strength Training
- Gradually Increasing Mileage and Intensity
- Staying Motivated and Enjoying the Process
- Seeking Professional Guidance
- Get Back Into Running
Evaluating Your Fitness Level
Before diving back into running, it’s important to evaluate your current fitness level. This will help you set realistic expectations and avoid pushing yourself too hard, too soon. Start by going for a jog at an easy pace for 20 to 30 minutes and pay attention to how your body feels afterwards. If you experience discomfort or pain from an injury, it may be best to wait a little longer before starting a new training program. Consulting with a doctor or physical therapist can provide valuable guidance on when and how to resume running.
Setting Realistic Goals
Having clear goals in mind is crucial for a successful comeback. Start by writing down your objectives and make sure they are achievable and realistic. It’s important to avoid comparing yourself to others or your previous running self. Instead, focus on your individual progress and celebrate each milestone along the way. Setting smaller goals, such as running a certain distance without stopping or improving your pace gradually, can keep you motivated and prevent burnout. Remember, it’s about enjoying the process and gradually building up your fitness level.
Starting Slow and Building a Strong Foundation
One of the biggest mistakes runners make when returning from a break is pushing too hard, too soon. Gradual progression is key to prevent injuries and ensure long-term success. Start by incorporating shorter and slower runs into your routine. This will allow your body to adapt to the demands of running and minimise the risk of overexertion. Consider following the principle of progressive overload, gradually increasing your running distance and intensity over time. Patience is key during this phase, as your body needs time to rebuild its endurance and strength.
Avoiding Injuries and Incorporating Cross-Training
During your comeback journey, it’s essential to prioritise injury prevention. Listen to your body and pay attention to any signs of pain or discomfort. If you experience unusual pain, it’s important to stop and rest. Ignoring the pain can lead to further injury and derail your progress. Incorporating cross-training activities, such as cycling, swimming, or strength training, can help build overall fitness and reduce the risk of overuse injuries. Strengthening key muscle groups and working on flexibility can also improve your running performance and prevent imbalances.
Rest and Recovery
Rest and recovery are just as important as training itself. Allow your body enough time to heal and adapt between workouts. This is particularly crucial during the early stages of your comeback, as your muscles, tendons, and ligaments adjust to the demands of running. Aim for at least one full day of rest between runs and incorporate active recovery activities, such as gentle stretching or foam rolling, to promote blood flow and reduce muscle soreness. Adequate sleep and proper nutrition also play a significant role in the recovery process.
Incorporating Strength Training
Strength training is a valuable component of any running routine, especially after a break. It helps build overall body strength, improves running form, and reduces the risk of injuries. Consider incorporating exercises that target key muscle groups, such as the glutes, hips, core, and legs. Bodyweight exercises, resistance bands, or free weights can all be effective tools for building strength. Aim to include two to three strength training sessions per week, focusing on exercises that mimic running movements and address any muscle imbalances.
Gradually Increasing Mileage and Intensity
As you start to regain your fitness and build a solid foundation, you can gradually increase your mileage and intensity. However, it’s important to do so in a controlled and systematic manner. Avoid sudden jumps in mileage or intensity, as this can lead to overtraining and increased risk of injury. Instead, aim for incremental increases in your weekly mileage, allowing your body to adjust and adapt to the added stress. Pay attention to how your body responds and make adjustments as needed. Remember, consistency and patience are key to long-term progress.
Staying Motivated and Enjoying the Process
Maintaining motivation throughout your comeback journey is essential. Find strategies that work for you to stay engaged and excited about running. Joining a running group or finding a running buddy can provide accountability and make the experience more enjoyable. Consider signing up for a race or setting new goals to keep yourself motivated. Celebrate your achievements, no matter how small they may seem, and remember that every step forward is progress. Embrace the process, stay positive, and don’t be too hard on yourself if you have setbacks along the way.
Seeking Professional Guidance
If you’re uncertain about how to structure your comeback or have specific concerns, seeking professional guidance can be beneficial. A running coach, physical therapist, or sports medicine specialist can provide personalized advice based on your individual needs and goals. They can help assess your running form, identify areas of improvement, and create a tailored training plan that minimises the risk of injury. Consulting with experts can give you the confidence and support you need to make a successful comeback to running.
Get Back Into Running
Returning to running after a break is an exciting opportunity to rediscover your love for the sport and challenge yourself in new ways. By approaching your comeback with patience, consistency, and a focus on injury prevention, you can set yourself up for long-term success. Remember to listen to your body, set realistic goals, and celebrate each milestone along the way. Embrace the journey, stay motivated, and enjoy the process of getting back into running. You’ve got this!
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is for educational purposes only and should not be considered as medical advice. Always consult with a healthcare professional before starting any exercise program or making significant changes to your fitness routine.