If you've taken a break from running because of an injury, or because of a lack of time or motivation, and you want to get back into it, you’ll want to use the tips outlined below to ease back into it safely.
Before you try to return to running, you should be able to walk, without pain or discomfort, for at least 45 minutes. Walking helps to prepare your muscles, joints, ligaments, and tendons, for the more rigorous task of running.
Wearing worn out running shoes can compromise your running form, which makes running more difficult and puts you at an increased risk of injury. Track the mileage on your shoes to make sure that you aren’t running on shoes that should be thrown out. As a general rule, running shoes are built to last for about 300 to 500 miles, but check your shoes weekly or monthly for signs of wear and tear.
Instead of hitting the pavement right away, ease your body into it by running on a track. Not only is a track a controlled, flat, environment, it allows you to practice without going too far in case you need to stop. In cases where a track isn’t available, a treadmill may be an option as the surface is also much more forgiving than pavement and you can control how long and how intense you want your run to be.
Don’t try to do too much too soon. Often runners that come back from a break due to injury end up re-injured because they’ve increased their distance too quickly. Follow a beginner schedule so that you can establish a regular running routine and avoid injury. If you don’t want to follow a schedule, track your mileage so that you don’t overdo it and end up re-injuring yourself. Some basic rules to follow:
On your rest days from running, cross training is a great way to build up your strength and endurance without running too much and putting yourself at risk for injury. Participate in activities that you enjoy so that you’ll stick to it – activities such as swimming, cycling, yoga, Pilates, walking, and strength training are great options to fill your time.
While over-the-counter pain relievers may help you feel better in the short term, they actually mask the pain that is signaling your body to stop.
If you’ve taken a long break, getting back into the swing of running on a regular basis, can be difficult. Take small steps to establish a regular running habit, including:
If motivation is an issue for you, try finding a friend to run with or join a local running group so you’re not alone. This will help you stick with your running program in the long run.
If you’ve taken time away from running because of an injury, it’s important to make sure that it’s safe to get back to your routine. Check with your physical therapist at Blue Hills Sports & Spine Rehabilitation to make sure your body is ready to get back at it. They will give you advice on how much, and how often, you should be running to get you back into your running routine safely.
Getting back into a regular running routine can be frustrating if you used to be an avid runner and you start to think about your past running accomplishments. Try to go easy on yourself, set smaller attainable goals so that you feel good when you reach them. This will help you to build confidence and continue with your running program. When you first get back at it, enjoying each run, while you build up your fitness, should be your top priority.