How to get back to running after a break

Dusting off your running shoes after a break can be intimidating. If an injury, pregnancy, or a tight work schedule got in the way of your passion for running, you may be wondering if you’re too out of shape now.

Will your body remember how to run at a certain pace?
Or will your legs feel weak and wobbly?
And how many times do you have to hit the pavement or get on a treadmill before it’s fun again?

The good news is that your muscles retain a memory of their previous strength, which can make it easier to recover than if you were starting from scratch. If he was inactive for only two or three weeks, he may not even notice a significant change in his running performance, especially if he remained physically active during his free time.

If more time has passed, you may not want to rush into long runs. Combine running with walking, take time to strengthen the muscles you don’t use, and reward yourself.

It can take about two months for a new behavior to become automatic. Once it does, it also becomes less demanding. But until then, you want to minimize the potential for injury and frustration. Use these expert-backed tips to get you through the pesky retraining period and hit the road with passion.

Ease into a grind

You’re more likely to keep running if you start with small goals. That may mean holding back a bit, both in terms of pace and distance. “Slow and steady wins the race,” said Karena Wu, a physical therapist. Slow down until you can pass the conversation test, which means carrying on a conversation while running.

Try to do two to three short, easy runs a week. You can also follow a 5k couch workout plan Designed for beginner runners and those returning after a long break.

Whichever plan you choose, make sure it has elements of strength training, stretching, and rest. The point is to stay consistent and remember that you’re using this time to recondition the muscles, tendons, ligaments and connective tissues in your legs, Dr. Wu said.

Incorporate immediate rewards

You may think you can gain strength during the first few weeks or months of racing, but research suggests that motivation alone isn’t always enough. Pairingsmall and immediate rewards to a task, like watching Netflix while on the treadmill or enjoying an Epsom salt bath after a long trail run, can make it easier and more enjoyable to continue these activities.

“People repeat behaviors they enjoy,” said Wendy Wood, author of Good Habits, Bad Habits. “If you hate running to begin with, there’s probably not much you can do to motivate yourself to do it again.”

Short-term rewards can help you get through the days when your motivation is lagging. And they can even speed up training of his new running habit.

Research shows you can also reap psychological rewards from running with a group of friends, affirmations from a coach, or listening to your favorite music. Some studies have shown that people who listen to music can run faster, perform better and feel less tired.

start strength training

Strength training helps prepare your body for running again and can keep you injury-free in the long run. Many physical therapists and running experts even recommend strength training a few weeks before returning to running to build muscle strength, increase flexibility, and improve overall biomechanics.

“I think a lot of people use running to get fit, but I would really recommend getting fit to get back to running,” said Irene Davis, a running biomechanics expert at the University of South Florida.

Runners tend to be weak in the feet and ankles, as well as the hips and glutes, Dr. Davis said. To strengthen these areas, try lifting weights, yoga, calisthenics either plyometrics at least two days a week.

Dr. Davis and Dr. Wu recommended exercises that train multiple muscles at the same time, such as single- and double-leg calf raises, band lateral walks (or monster walks), planks, lunges, squats, and step-ups.


A well-designed warm-up can also get your blood flowing and prepare your muscles for running. Dr. Wu and Dr. Davis recommended dynamic stretches, in which you move your joints and muscles through full ranges of motion, mimicking the movement you’re about to perform without holding them in place. For runners, it’s often the same exercises used in strength training, such as lunges and squats, as well as butt kicks and high knees.

Research has offered mixed and often conflicting results regarding the benefits of cooling down after a workout. But many athletes and physical therapists, including Dr. Wu, recommend static stretches, in which you hold a position for a period of time, after a run. He also recommended bringing your knee to your chest, pulling your ankle toward your glutes, leaning against a wall to stretch your calves, or do a deep lunge and circle your hips. He experiments with stretching and sees if it makes you feel more flexible or helps you refuel for the next run.

get enough rest

Just because your body remembers how to do it, doesn’t mean your muscles and joints are ready for the toll running can take. While you’re regaining stamina and strength during runs, you’re also breaking down your body in many ways, like opening microscopic tears in your muscles. Taking at least one day off a week will help prevent injury and allow you to come back stronger, giving your body time to recover.

During each run, your body also depletes its stores of glycogen, a type of carbohydrate stored in your muscles and liver. Resting and recharging helps replenish these stores so you can use them for energy when you run again.

Remember that you are making progress throughout the entire process. Running is an exhilarating form of exercise with the breeze in your hair and the ground at your feet. So dust off those shoes and walk out the door. – East Article originally appeared in the New York Times

Sign up for one of The Irish Times’ Get going programs (it’s free!).
First, choose the eight-week program that suits you best.
Beginner Course: A course to go from inactivity to running for 30 minutes.
– Stay on the road: For those who can run a couple of times a week.
– 10 km route: Designed for those who want to push up to the 10K mark.
Good luck!

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