Returning to running can be a big challenge. I just ran for the first time in 50 days. Yes, I was counting. In my case it was injury related, but you might have just gotten busy or had other priorities. Whatever happened these breaks happen. Sometimes they sneak up on you too!
Returning to Running – Are you starting from square one?
The short answer is no, you aren’t. You will hold on to your long term fitness. The longer answer is maybe it’s a good idea to treat your return as if you are starting from scratch. You might not have lost much fitness, but if you haven’t been doing anything high impact then your body is not at all used to the loading. So whether you’ve done nothing for two months or you’ve turned into a rowing machine, for running the result is still the same – unprepared for a sudden and dramatic increase in loading – even if the cardio fitness is there.
First you try, then you wait
No two people will respond the same, so the only way to test things out is to give it a go and see what happens. And here is the important bit: be willing to adapt based on what happens rather than plough on with your plan. That might look like walk/run or it might be a shorter continuous run – but chances are you only want it to be 20-30 minutes to start with. For me, my first run I ended up doing as 6 x 4:30 run, 0:30 walk – just so I didn’t have to think about when my walk breaks were going to be. Then it’s a waiting game. If you are coming back from injury you are waiting to see that whatever your injury is – isn’t having a major reaction to the impact. If you aren’t, you just want to make sure that everything feels pretty good in the 1-2 days afterwards.
Feels good? Proceed. If it doesn’t? Adapt.
If all is feeling pretty normal, than in a few days you can repeat the same thing, or maybe even extend it a teensy bit. And if it is feeling less than stellar that’s not an abandon ship situations it’s more looking at how you can decrease the load so you aren’t having that same reaction, until it stabilises and then moving forward from there.
When you are returning to running, progress looks different on everyone
You might progress really quickly and with no complications, or you might need to progress quite slowly with only making changes ever 3-4 weeks after your body adapts. You can’t control which situation you’ll get and most often it will probably be something in the middle. Just keep in mind that slow progress IS progress and the goal is to keep running not do too much too soon and end up back where you started.
The time for extra self-care is now
All of those muscles being used in ways they haven’t been for awhile so it’s a great time to invest in more mobility, more rolling and more body treatment (if you’ve found physio, osteo and massage treatment works for you). And it’s also time to fuel your body with all the things it needs while you ask a little bit extra of it.
A second opinion is always a good idea, especially with returning to running after a break
I have a coach, because I know I’m far more capable of making good choices when I’m accountable. If you are self-coached then don’t be afraid to bounce some ideas off a training buddy or check-in with someone on a regular basis to keep you on track.
I’m writing a book about how to love running enough for it to change your life.
The book is going to focus on my journey so far, the when the why and the how of the workouts and of training, but also how it all connects to things that are far bigger than running. I’m taking up the challenge of writing a book in 30 days. Which is a lot of writing, but hopefully just enough pressure to keep the momentum going. You can sign up to read the daily words on patreon and get access to a whole range of bonus podcast episodes, and an ebook with 52 running workouts, so you’ll never be stuck for ideas ever again. Stay up to date on: