Returning to running

One of the most common stories in my local running club is “How I returned from running.” The story usually begins with how the person ran during high school, or even college, and then stopped. This running break often lasts as long as 15-20 years. These runners cite all kinds of reasons for getting back into running, but the most common are health and having more energy.

If you are thinking about starting another chapter in your running career after a long break, or have already started, be sure to follow a few tips:

1. Stick With It: Running is a difficult activity. It is an especially difficult activity if you haven’t run in years. Don’t be surprised if you are out of breath just running to the end of your block; in fact, expect it. However, if you stick with your plan, you will rapidly regain your old fitness.

2. Start Slow: The worst mistake a returning runner can make is to run too much too soon. Depending how long your break has been, it is important to really be cautious. It might be a good idea to use a run/walk plan where you alternate running and walking: (run 1 minute, walk 1 minute, run 1 minute, etc.). Additionally, be sure not to increase your mileage by more than 10% each week. For example, if you run 20 miles one week, don’t run anything more than 22 mile the next week. Take a look at Dr. Pribut’s blog for a specific schedule for how to return to running.

3. Listen To Your Body: I guarantee that you will be sore and possibly get a few injuries in the first few days and weeks that you start your running. Be sure to place an ice pack on any sore muscles that develop (ice on the muscle for 10 minutes, off for 10 minutes, on for 10 minutes, off for 10 minutes). Also, if you feel any injuries coming on, do not hesitate to take a few days off to rest up. It is much better to take two or three days off then having to take weeks off to get better.

4. Set Goals: One of the best ways to keep motivated through the beginning stages of a comeback program is to have definite goals. For example, pick a race that is a few months away and structure your training to get yourself ready for that race.

5. Don’t Run Alone: Another good way to motivate yourself is to find a running partner, or to join a running group. Things will go much easier if you have other people to support you through your comeback.

6. Weight Loss: Perhaps the number one reason that many former runners make a comeback is to loose weight. I hate to break the news, but loosing weight through running can take a while. Don’t expect to shed ten pounds in the first two weeks. In fact, running might initially lead to more weight due to increased muscle. Running will no doubt improve your cardiovascular fitness, but it is not guaranteed to lead to rapid weight loss. In order to increase the chances of weight loss, combine running with strength training (free weights, push-ups, pull-ups, etc.).

7. Have Fun! Try not to take your comeback too seriously. Instead, try to enjoy the road to increased fitness and health that running will give you.

How to Run Tempo Runs
Helping the Post-Workout Recovery