At some point you felt reasonably fit…maybe even, very fit. Then life happened, you took an extended break and now you’re scratching your head wondering how to get back to running? Is it going to be painful, take forever, can your body even handle it?
Good news: your muscles (and brain) have a memory of those past activities and in many ways it’s often EASIER to get back into shape than it was the first time around.
Think about it. You don’t have to convince yourself it’s possible because you already know that you have run before. That takes away part of the battle and of course now with more life experience you’re better equipped to push through discomfort. It’s one of the reasons so many top distance runners are older than athletes in other sports!
Really, a lot of it depends on why you stopped in the first place. To start breaking down a plan of action, is it returning to running after baby, or returning to running after a knee injury. Or, is it returning to running after simply being too busy for anything but work, family, sleep, repeat? Were you doing other sports or athletic activity?
Each of these comes with their own unique set of challenges and requirements to help your body feel strong and ready. But for each there are some key principles that cannot be ignored.
CELEBRATE EACH STEP FORWARD
Instead of trying to get back to where you were on day 1, start from where you are now. Here are a few tips:
Positive emotions are going to reinforce the action
Don’t reward yourself with food, but do keep praising yourself for showing up
Ask your family to support your goals
Set up a jar to put money in for new gear and add to it every time you finish a workout
Remember that showing up AT ALL is a win, even if you don’t do the whole workout
All or nothing is not a mindset that will get you through this. Everything counts.
BUILD A MORE RESILIENT BODY
Runners have one very common issue, we simply want to run. Therefore we neglect all the other aspects of training which help to prevent injuries, make us faster and generally help with running for weight loss goals (a big reason many come back).
I know you’re busy.
I know you’d rather get those endorphins going.
I know it’s easy to skip over this section.
Time to reframe that entire way of thinking. How can you simply build these components into your workout?
Make hip and core movements part of your dynamic warm up.
Commit to doing a minimum of 2 full body strength training sessions of 20 minutes per week..
Know that you can still do a short run or take a walk on those strength days (again, it’s not all or nothing).
Knee injury runners make sure you’re spending plenty of time looking at good running form and doing hip and glute mobility & strength exercises that prevent issues like IT Band Syndrome ALL THE TIME. It’s non-negotiable.
Super busy runners, I hate to break it to you, but lots of runners are super busy. So it’s time to decide if you’re making excuses, wasting time in other areas or need to simply be ok with only having 30 minutes for your workouts. No one says you need to be running for hours on end!
DO WHAT YOU CAN.
FOLLOW A GOOD TRAINING PLAN
What is a good training plan? One that works for you, takes your life into account and is tailored around any injuries you may have.
My first recommendation is generally to find a running coach because they are truly going to look at whatever issues you’ve had, your schedule and your fitness level to help put in place something that’s not only DOABLE, but gives you constant little wins which keeps you motivated and excited.
Next up is to go with an online running program.
DO WHAT YOU CAN
Those who already have a high level of fitness from other sports, still need to remember running is a different stimulus and you need to ease into the process. But all the other points remain the same of finding a solid plan to help you build up, like this first half marathon program.
After that the keys are simple (not easy):
Consistency – show up for yourself
Don’t try to make up missed runs
Slow and steady is the key to continuing. It means preventing burnout and injuries, which will just force you to start over again.
Remember that your body is different now than it was before and different isn’t BAD
Remember your mental strength can help you now to overcome some of the physical