5 Tips To Help You Start Running Again After A Break

How-to-Return-to-Running-After-Time-Off

How-to-Return-to-Running-After-Time-Off

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Tips To Start Running Again

If you're returning to running after a break, start slow. Your muscles still remember your running history. So you'll soon be able to run like you used to. But before picking up speed, build your endurance and flexibility to avoid injuries. Begin with a walk or a jog and gradually turn it into running. Whether you want to run a 5K or not, cross-train for it. Then set small goals, and address your running problems at the first sign of discomfort.

At some point in life, you might have taken a long break from running whether due to illness, injury, major life changes, or simply because you didn’t feel up for it. Now when you want to start running again because you need the exercise or because you feel like it, remember that running after a long break is not easy. But it’s not impossible either. Science says it is easier for former runners to revisit the sport, thanks to their “muscle memory.”

What is muscle memory? When you exercise or do physical activities like running that strengthens the muscle, “little protein factories” or DNA-containing nuclei are generated in them. According to a study, such nuclei stick around even after you quit the physical activity.1 This forms a kind of muscle memory that allows the muscle to bounce back quickly when retrained.

So, once a runner, always a runner! All you need is proper training that guides your body into adapting to your long-lost running style and performance.

1. Start Slow

It might be frustrating to not be able to perform as well as before, but remember that trying to run for too long on your first day of training is only going to end up in injuries and pain.

Your new running plan must be based on 5 things:

  • How long you stayed away from running
  • Your fitness level when you stopped running
  • If you were injured, the severity of the injury
  • How many years of running experience you have
  • And whether you practiced any kind of physical activity during your break from running

Running coach DeeAnn Dougherty suggests that runners should be able to walk pain-free for 30 minutes continuously before they start running after a break. If you have taken a break of 2 weeks, Dougherty suggests starting back trying to match up to 50% of your previous weekly mileage. The longer the break, the lower the percentage. If you have been out of touch for more than 6–8 weeks, then start with a walk or a jog.

2. Build Endurance

Before you can pick up speed and intensity, you must build endurance. Here’s a sample starting plan you can follow:

  • Start with a 10-minute walk to warm up.
  • Move on to alternating between 100 m jogs and 100 m walks for the next 4 laps.
  • End with a 10-minute walk to cool down.

You can keep adding one lap every day for up to 8 laps, and then gradually increase the running and decrease the walking.

So keep it slow and stay away from hills until you are back to running at least 75 to 80% of your previous mileage.

3. Train For A 5K

It may help if returning runners train for a specific goal like running a half-marathon or any other race. With a deadline and/or an event in mind, it will be easier to get yourself on track. Even if you do not plan to participate in a running event, following an 8-week or 10-week beginner’s training plan for running a 5 km would be a good starting point.

4. Cross Train For Strength, Flexibility, And Endurance

Cross-training is the best option available for runners to prevent injury. But the benefits of cross-training do not end with just that. Runners can cross-train to improve fitness, promote recovery, and rehabilitate injuries. It enables you to boost your cardiovascular strength and increase endurance without putting a lot of wear and tear on the body. Supplement your running schedule with a little strength training, flexibility training, and endurance cross-training. Include activities like swimming, aqua jogging, cycling, walking, yoga, and Pilates into your training.

5. Identify And Solve Your Running Problems

Retraining is the best time to take a look at any problems you may have experienced in the past while running. Be it plantar fasciitis, shin splints, or runner’s knee, find a solution to it this time around so that you don’t fall off track because of such problems again. Listen to your body’s signs and act on them immediately to get back in top running shape.

6. Set Small Goals

It can be frustrating when you take time to reach your previous performance levels. You may think of your past running accomplishments and put pressure on yourself to match them. But doing so will only lead to pain and injuries and make it harder for you to recover. Set small goals when you are starting out and your confidence will increase when you meet each of them. As you build your endurance, intensity, and speed, running will start becoming more fun again.

So, instead of feeling disheartened about the low period, keep running. These small steps will take you a long way in reaching your running goals in the future.

References   [ + ]

1. Egner, Ingrid M., Jo C. Bruusgaard, Einar Eftestøl, and Kristian Gundersen. “A cellular memory mechanism aids overload hypertrophy in muscle long after an episodic exposure to anabolic steroids.” The Journal of physiology 591, no. 24 (2013): 6221-6230.

Disclaimer: The content is purely informative and educational in nature and should not be construed as medical advice. Please use the content only in consultation with an appropriate certified medical or healthcare professional.

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