Has it been a while since you laced up your shoes the last time and now you are ready to start running again?
Regardless of the reasons why you took a break from running (injury, stress, family, work, or a lack of motivation), it can be a challenge to get back to running after a long break.
Especially when you’ve been out for several weeks or even months, it is important to ease back in carefully to avoid injuries and other frustrations.
7 tricks on how to start running again
Forming new habits
Coming back from a long break from running, the most crucial part is to break those old habits of not running. It sounds so simple but it can be super challenging.
Forget about old paces and regimes you used to follow before your running break. Let’s find new habits first.
As you start running again, focus on consistency first. Don’t beat yourself up because you are not running as fast as you used to.
Set small goals you want to accomplish. Start your first week or two by simply wanting to complete two 3-mile runs at a very conversational easy pace.
Even these minor goals will make you feel that you have accomplished something. Setting too extreme goals when starting to run again can cause the exact opposite.
Follow a running training schedule
Remember when you first started running? You probably followed one of those “from the couch to 5K schedule“, right?
The main reason behind these plans is to keep you motivated. For some, this is absolutely necessary to stay on track with the training in the first place.
Many runners who’ve taken a long break from running also find it helpful to follow a beginner schedule so they can re-establish a running habit and avoid getting injured.
Do some research online or reach out to a running coach like me who will come up with a plan for you.
The beauty of cross-training for runners (swimming, aqua jogging, cycling, walking, strength training, yoga, and pilates) is that on days, where you are not running, you can still build your endurance and strength.
That will avoid overtraining and overstressing your joints and decrease your risk of injury. Decide on cross-training that you really enjoy making the process even more fun.
Runners who start running again after a break are getting injured super quickly because they tend to increase their weekly mileage too fast.
Again, forget about your old habits and build new ones. At least for now.
Either your muscles or your joints are ready for the same mileage that you were running before you took a break from running.
You want to feel happy and hyped after your runs not defeated or frustrated. Start with a low mileage per week and build your way up slowly.
You may want to run up to 6 weeks at a very easy pace until you have established a good running base. Then you want to increase your pace and overall weekly mileage by 10% per week.
Plan enough rest days or cross-train in between running days. If you had to take a break from running due to an injury, your doctor or physical therapist may be the first person to ask how much mileage you are allowed to cover right now.
Join a community
As you probably know, I’m a member of Adidas runners in New York City. Oftentimes, runners join us after taking a break from running and find it motivational to run with a group.
Within the community, you will meet new friends who will function as your accountability partner along the way. Right now many running groups are not active due to the current circumstances, but you can always attend virtual challenges to keep you involved.
Depending on your area, ask at a local running store if they offer group runs as well.
Sign up for a (virtual) race
One of my biggest motivations is the date of a race on my calendar. I agree, this may also present a challenge right now, but there are many races you can attend.
Having the race on your calendar will push you to continue to train. Pick a friend and have your friend sign up as well to increase your motivation and support.
If you are not into racing and are simply running for the joy of the sports itself you may want to consider setting a different goal. Anything inspirational will help to continue to motivate you throughout your journey back into running.
Positive energy only
I have experienced it myself that starting to run again can be super frustrating. You continue to go down that rabbit hole of former marathon times, or paces and now everything just doesn’t work out like that anymore.
Try to focus on your mini-goals and your baby steps towards becoming a stronger runner again. While you are setting new milestones you will feel more confident again.
Remember that there is endless time to work on new PRs and fast paces. Be patient with yourself and have gratitude for the fact that you are able to run again.
Last Updated on 6. January 2022 by Sabrina Wieser
Sabrina Wieser is a running expert based in New York City and the founder of Runningbrina - She is a USATF Level 3 and IAAF Level 5 Endurance Certified Coach and experienced marathon runner. She completed over 35 long-distance races and helped over 200 clients to cross their personal finish line. Her expertise in enhancing running performance through training and nutrition has been recognized by many within the running community and different media outlets such as Huffington Post, the Dr Oz Show and adidas running.
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