At some point you felt reasonably fit…maybe even dare we say it, very fit. Then life happened you took an extended break and now you’re scratching your head wondering how to get back to running? Is it going to be painful, take forever, can your body even handle it?
Good news: your muscles (and brain) have a memory of those past activities and in many ways it’s often EASIER to get back in to shape than it was the first time around.
Think about it. You don’t have to convince yourself it’s possible because you already know that you have run before. That takes away part of the battle and of course now with more life experience you’re better equipped to push through discomfort. It’s one of the reasons so many top distance runners are older than athletes in other sports!
How to Get Back Into Running
A few things will be common for every runner, but the reason you stopped running can also play a big part in the answer.
- Celebrate each step forward
- Build a more resilient body
- Follow a good training plan
- Do what you can
Really, a lot of it depends on why you stopped in the first place. To start breaking down a plan of action, is it returning to running after baby, or returning to running after a knee injury. Or, is it returning to running after simply being too busy for anything but work, family, sleep, repeat? Were you doing other sports or athletic activity?
Each of these comes with their own unique set of challenges and requirements to help your body feel strong and ready. But for each there are some key principles that cannot be ignored.
Celebrate Each Step Forward
Instead of trying to get back to where you were on day 1, start from where you are now. Prior to my knee injury, which ultimately lead to surgery, it was normal for me to run 40 miles per week.
I could have been frustrated about not being able to walk around the block afterwards, but I choose to start a new journey. I celebrated each day that I walked a little farther and then celebrated when I shuffled through a 10 minute run and then my first mile and so on, all the way up to a 50 mile week recently.
- Positive emotions are going to reinforce the action
- Don’t reward yourself with food, but do keep praising yourself for showing up
- Ask your family to support your goals
- Set up a jar to put money in for new gear and add to it every time you finish a workout
- Remember that showing up AT ALL is a win, even if you don’t do the whole workout
All or nothing is not a mindset that will get you through this. Everything counts.Have you had an extended break from running? These tips will help get you started again. Click To Tweet
Build A More Resilient Body
Runners have one very common issue, we simply want to run. Therefore we neglect all the other aspects of training which help to prevent injuries, make us faster and generally help with running for weight loss goals (a big reason many come back).
I know you’re busy.
I know you’d rather get those endorphins going.
I know it’s easy to skip over this section.
Time to reframe that entire way of thinking. How can you simply build these components in to your workout?
- Make hip and core movements part of your dynamic warm up.
- Commit to doing a minimum of 2 full body strength training sessions of 20 minutes
- Know that you can still do a short run or take a walk on those strength days (again, it’s not all or nothing)
Knee injury runners make sure you’re spending plenty of time looking at good running form and doing hip strength exercises that prevent issues like IT Band Syndrome ALL THE TIME. It’s non-negotiable.
And if you still have knee pain, then hold off on running and checkout these ideas to keep your fitness up with knee pain.
Super busy runners I hate to break it to you, but lots of runners are super busy. So it’s time to decide if you’re making excuses, wasting time in other areas or need to simply be ok with only having 30 minutes for your workouts. No one says you need to be running for hours on end!
DO WHAT YOU CAN.
Follow a Good Training Plan
What is a good training plan? One that works for you, takes your life in to account and is tailored around any injuries you may have.
My first recommendation is generally to find a running coach because they are truly going to look at whatever issues you’ve had, your schedule and your fitness level to help put in place something that’s not only DOABLE, but gives you constant little wins which keeps you motivated and excited.
Next up is to go with some tried and true things like the Couch to 5K program, which has worked for thousands of people! It means getting past your weird ideas that you shouldn’t be walking, which is a key tool for increasing time on feet and allowing the body to adjust to the pressures of running.
Do what you can
Those who already have a high level of fitness from other sports, still need to remember running is a different stimulus and you need to ease in to the process. But all the other points remain the same of finding a solid plan to help you build up, like this first half marathon program.
After that the keys are simple (not easy):
- Consistency – show up for yourself
- Don’t try to make up missed runs
- Slow and steady is the key to continuing. It means preventing burnout and injuries, which will just force you to start over again.
- Remember that your body is different now than it was before and different isn’t BAD
- Remember your mental strength can help you now to overcome some of the physical
More questions about getting started? Dive in to these resources:
- 7 New Runner Tips
- How many days a week should you run?
- Do you need a pre-workout?
- Should you do fasted cardio?
Other ways to connect with Amanda
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Facebook Community Chatter: RunToTheFinish