A blog by runners. For runners.

Coming back after a break: 7 tips to help you run again

getting-back-to-running-after-a-layoff

I was 33 weeks pregnant and just finished a 4 mile run when something popped in my hip. I was lucky enough to run up until this point in my pregnancy, but I knew this would be my last run for a while.

So, I took a break from running. A long one. For four more weeks of pregnancy and the first three weeks postpartum, I didn’t lace up my running shoes once.

My midwife cleared me to run again when I felt ready. On a cold, rain Friday afternoon 23 days after my son was born, it was time. I expected it to be slow and painful, but it wasn’t that bad. Sure I wasn’t setting any speed records and the run was short, but I was amazed the pace wasn’t slower and was shocked that I ran 3 miles without stopping.

Whether you get injured, sick, pregnant, or just need a break, there may be a time in your life when you need to stop running. Returning after a long running hiatus can be intimidating, but most runners can come back successfully. Here’s safely pick up your running career:

  1. Ease into it. I didn’t take a walk break that first run back, but believe me, they became a necessity over the next few months. It took a solid month before I could run 5 miles nonstop. And be wary of the “terrible toos”. Running too fast, too long, or too often will only leave you injured. 
  2. Check in with your body. This is especially true if you’re returning after an injury. Pay attention to how you’re feeling – both mentally and physically — and scale back if you’re overdoing it. I regularly ran 4 or 5 days per week before my break, but had to stick to 3 days of running for the first few months of my return.
  3. Only train once you’re ready. Don’t pressure yourself to be ready by a deadline or a race. It took a couple of months of solid running before I felt ready to train again. Everyone’s experience is different. Only resume training once you’re ready. 
  4. Don’t “should” yourself. Maybe you were averaging 8:00 minute miles before your break, but now you can’t crack 9:00 minutes/ mile. Perhaps you were in marathon shape but now you top out at 4 miles. Just because you used to be able to do something doesn’t mean you should be able to do it now. Go easy on yourself – getting back into peak condition takes time.
  5. Embrace cross-training. If you’ve been completely sedentary, biking, or swimming can be great ways to boost your cardiovascular fitness without going overboard with running. 
  6. Keep a training log. Months may go by and it may seem like you’re not making much progress, but if you have a training diary, you’ll see just how far you’ve come.
  7. Expect setbacks. Running is hard, and it will take time before it starts to feel easy again. There will always be disappointing runs and sub-par weeks. Remember that without the bad runs, the good ones wouldn’t feel quite as rewarding.

Have you ever taken a running hiatus? What are your comeback tips? Share below.

Written by Jen Matz.

 

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