Every runner encounters at some point in their running life a time when they have to stop running. Regardless of the reason for taking the brake, getting back into running from a hiatus can be very difficult. Which I found out very quickly when I started running again four weeks prior to signing up for Run As One (4 miles) on April 29, a New York Road Runners event for lung cancer research and awareness.
There is an emotional aspect that many have when re-entering the running scene after a break that can bring on a lot of emotions, such as: self doubt, loss of motivation or interest, disappointment, and frustration. Often, we may think a hiatus won’t affect us much once we try to get back into running. Once we start running again, we can become surprised to find how difficult it can be, physically and mentally.
Once we get past the re-entering stage – that is when you will realize running is one of the greatest activities to get involved in, running is an exercise that can be taken part of by everyone in almost any location around the world. For running you don’t need access to gyms or other people to play with. The main allure of running is that you can lace up a pair of running shoes, head out and enjoy a nice run!
By properly planning for 6 key areas, the returning runner (or beginner runner) can drastically increase their chance for success in one of the greatest sports around.
6 WAYS TO EASE YOUR WAY BACK
1. Wearing proper running shoes
The most important piece of equipment for running is a proper pair of running shoes. Getting fitted for the proper running shoe is the key to having a comfortable ride and support your feet need. Most major running shops can help you with a proper running shoe fitting. If you plan on participating in races, never buy them new for race day! You have to break them in through training first.
2. Avoid doing too much too soon
Whenever starting a new activity or re-entering such as running, it is important to ease into it. Do not make the mistake of going too far to soon or running too fast before you are ready. Start with walking first, and then progress into a run/walk program. Ease into a training program by gradually building up both your distance and pace. By easing into your training program the runner can drastically decrease their high risk of injury. Increase your mileage gradually. Don’t let your weekly mileage increase by more than 10%.
3. Recovery time
Rest is very important for growth. Do not pile on workout after workout; your body needs time to heal. In fact you need to get rest in order to become better. At the end of any workout it is important to do a cool down by either doing a slow jog or walk for about 5-10 minutes after your run. After a cool down focus on stretching. Stretching can help minimize some of the soreness that usually follows a good run. You may decide to rest by cross training. This may include cycling, powerwalking, hiking or swimming. Cross training is a good way to improve, but log at least 1 day off a week where you simply rest. As you start out you will need 2 or possibly 3 days off. You do not want to get injured. Injuries will cause setbacks.
4. Don’t forget to eat right
I do not claim to be a nutritionist, but I can tell you that I know many people run to lose weight, including myself at the moment. If you are doing this there is a chance you are also dieting. Remember to make sure you are getting balanced meals because your body will need the nutrients. If you are on a reduced calorie diet, realize that as your calorie expenditure increases you will reach a plateau and weight loss will stop. It seems counter intuitive but you may need to increase your calories to support your exercise in order to continue to lose weight.
5. Have a goal or plan
Motivation is very important in running. Having a goal with a proper plan in place to reach that goal helps the runner fight through the times when motivation starts to deplete. Create a goal and come up with strong reasons why you want to run and achieve this goal. A goal needs to be specific so if you are running to lose weight or you are signed up for a race that is taking place in a couple of months, then it is important to decide exactly how you are going to achieve that goal.
If you do not know how to attain your goal then it is probably important to seek out help. Find a running buddy or a running group, read articles about running, and reach out to others who may be able to help you develop a plan to reach your running goals.
6. Stay motivated
Once you are consistently running you may need to take steps to keep it interesting. Keep your running workouts fun! For instance, if you have not been running with music – try it, run a different course, (not the same one over and over) try running trails, join a running group, set distance or speed goals and/or sign up for a race. Also, consider keeping a training journal. Do more than log your times and mile, but remember to jot down how you feel. You will be able to look back and enjoy your improvements.
Running is a great activity to take part in. By planning, creating goals, and mixing up your running schedule with cross training, you can dramatically increase your chances of running successfully in the future.
If you have any experiences to share, please comment below. Good luck in all your running adventures!