Whether you’ve been off for a few weeks, a few months, or a few years, getting back into running is always a challenge. If you’re like most runners, you’ve probably taken the occasional break from running. Family, work, school, sickness and injuries are just a few of the things that can keep us from logging miles.
It can be frustrating to feel like you’ve lost all of the progress that you worked so hard for, but it’s important to remember that your running experience does matter. The progress that you made months or even years ago will allow you to progress faster and more efficiently than you would have without it.
It’s always difficult to form new habits, especially when those habits require the time and energy that running does. So instead of beating yourself up for taking that break, give yourself a pat on the back for making the decision to start running again.
Manage your Expectations | Follow a Training Plan | Update Your Gear
Accountability | Set Attainable Goals | Rest | Cross Train | Make it Fun
After taking a break from running, you can’t expect to pick up where you left off; your body will need time to get used to the stress of running again. Approach your first runs with an open mind. Listen to your body and don’t feel pressure to run the same distance or pace you were running before your break.
There are thousands of training plans available online but many of them are generic plans created by inexperienced runners. You don’t necessarily need a custom running plan, but you should pick a plan that matches up with your fitness level, experience, and goals. Do your homework to find a training plan from a credible source that meets your needs (Shameless Plug: Check out our Beginner 5k plan) Following a bad training plan can be worse than having no training plan at all!
Your running shoes are your most important piece of running gear, so before heading out on that first run, make sure that they’re up for the challenge. Check the overall condition of your shoes to ensure there is no excessive wear on the soles or tears in the upper material. If your shoes are several years old or have a few hundred miles on them you may need to consider picking up a fresh pair.
If you’ve never had a professional fitting or gait analysis, it can make a big difference in finding your perfect pair of shoes.
You also want to make sure you are as comfortable as possible on your run, so it’s important that your running clothes fit properly and are appropriate for the season. If you’re looking for a place to start, check out the Marathon Sports Summer Running and Winter Running guides.
Asking others to hold you accountable to a commitment is one of the best ways to motivate yourself to get things done. Create an accountability partner. Friends, running groups, or a coach will make it harder to skip out on a run. It will be more exciting when you get to share your achievements with them. Think of your accountability partners as a support system, not someone waiting to slap your wrist.
Few things in running are as heartbreaking as falling short of a goal. Failing over and over again can be detrimental to your confidence and take the joy out of running. So when you first start running again,begin with setting small, easily attainable goals. Each mini goal you achieve will build your confidence as a runner. Use your training results to update your goals on a regular basis.
One of the most common mistakes that runners make as they get back into running is running too much, too fast. Your body takes a long time to adapt to new stress so even when you feel like you can run faster, run longer, or run more frequently, it’s important to follow your plan and get enough rest. For example: keep your easy runs easy.
If you feel like you have to exercise everyday try active recovery workouts like walking, yoga, or an easy bike ride. Another good idea is to focus on your flexibility with things like foam rolling and stretching.
In my experience one of the most important aspects of running is cross training. You can focus on low impact cardio workouts like biking, swimming, or hiking to build your fitness, but it’s also important to strengthen our bodies with activities like weight lifting, yoga, and calisthenics. These types of workouts can help improve mobility while increasing your ability to avoid injury.
Studies have shown over and over again that the best exercise is the one you enjoy. That’s because if you enjoy it, you’re much more likely to actually do it! This could mean watching TV while running on the treadmill, listening to music/podcasts/audio books, running on a different surface, or at a different pace. There is no wrong way to run, so do whatever you need to make it more enjoyable for you.
The first few months of running after a long break is the perfect time to create good running and recovery habits, boost your confidence, and strengthen your body. Remember that improving as a runner is a process that can’t be condensed into a few short weeks, it’s going to take time. Enjoy the process and relish in the fact that you’re taking an active role in becoming a healthier, happier you!
About Jake Milrod | IG: SeeJakeRun1
Jake Milrod is a writer, runner, father of two, lover of all things outdoors. Since getting back into running, he’s completed 3 half marathons, an Olympic triathlon, and a Half Ironman Triathlon. While Jake enjoys racing roads, trails, and triathlons, he is always happiest running at a snail’s pace on his local Concord, NH trails. Check out his writings at SeeJakeRun.com