Have you set your sights on getting back after a ‘running career break’?
Maybe you were sidelined after an injury, or work and family committments had to come first; or perhaps you simply just got bored and lost your mojo. Our busy lifestyles can disrupt even the most dedicated runner.
So if it’s been 6 months, a year or even longer since you last laced up your trainers then follow our 8 smart suggestions to ease yourself back onto the track and into a new running routine.
1. FORGET THE PAST
Remember everything you have achieved in the past? Well throw them out the window for the present. It is easy to be unrealistic and expect an immediate return to your previous running level. Runs completed years ago bear no relevance on what you can do today.
Instead, start slowly. Begin with a short easy route you are familiar with and can run with ease. Over the next 9 weeks you are going to hold back on distance and pace focusing on slow, short and regular runs.
2. FOLLOW A TRAINING PLAN
Follow a plan and stick to it. There are some great training programmes out there, the most well known being ‘Couch to 5K’.
For those who are confident their body and personal fitness allows them to push themselves a bit further initially we recommend the following plan:
Weeks 1-4: Running 15-20 minutes, 3-4 times per week
Weeks 5-9: Increasing running times by 10% per week.
During this 9 week plan we recommend you limit your mileage to a maximum of 5 miles until you have established a good running base. After this you may cautiously increase your overall mileage and pace.
Your pace should be such that you are able to maintain a conversation. Ask yourself whether you are passing the ‘talk test’.
3. WARM UP & COOL DOWN EFFECTIVELY
How many times have we been told to warm up and cool down? Well let’s not forget it!
Take the time to warm up with a brisk walk and dynamic stretches, this gives your body a chance to loosen up while gently increasing your heart rate. A 2015 study published in the the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research demonstrated that when runners performed a dynamic stretching routine before a treadmill workout, they were better able to sustain a hard effort for longer than those who did’t.
Cooling down is just as important helping to regulate your bloodflow, preventing post work-out dizziness and easing your body into rest.
Consider spending 5-10 minutes of total body stretches even add foam rolling 2-4 hours later.
4. FOCUS ON CONSISTENCY
It’s not about how many miles you can clock in 1 run but rather how many runs you can clock in 8 weeks.
Your body needs time to adjust to the physical impact of running and you are at an increased risk of injury in the first 6 weeks of returning to running than at any other time. Maintaining a ‘streak’ of 3-4 short and slow runs per week reduces this liklihood of an injury. Patience is key during this rebuilding stage. It takes time for your muscles, tendons, bones, ligaments and joints to efficiently adapt and handle running.
5. MIX IT UP… STRENGTH AND CONDITION (S&C)
In the first 4 weeks do not run 2 days in a row; either take an active rest day or consider Cross-training. Dedicate some time to alternative forms of training this can be anything from using the cross-trainer, cycling, swimming, doing pilates, a circuits class, rowing etc.
Cross-training helps the body adapt, it increases endurance and builds strength without overstressing your joints.
It will help you avoid injury during the comeback period and adds a bit of variety to your training.
6. FIND A COMPANION
As you get back into running you may be able to boost your motivation by running with others. Having other people hold you accountable during training will help you stay on plan. Having friendly conversations during your runs will ensure you’re not tempted to go too quickly while you follow the ‘Talk Test’.
Why not consider make enquires about joining your local running club?
7. SET A GOAL
Have you a goal in mind? You may want to sign up to an event or race to follow your 8 week retraining period. Start with a shorter event, such as a 5k, before you register for a longer distance race. Check out the Fixtures on the NiRunning website for an event near you.
Having a race on the calander may help you stay motivated and give you something to aim for.
8. KEEP THE FAITH
It can be frustrating to think about your past running accomplishments…Try not to beat yourself up and simply focus on the positive steps that you are taking. Finally, remind yourself to be happy that you can run!