So you took a break from running. Maybe you were injured, maybe your body needed some rest, or maybe life just got in the way for awhile. Now you are ready to make a comeback!
START WITH LOW MILEAGE
If you have taken more than a couple of weeks off, starting back with the same weekly mileage is setting you up for an injury. Scale back for a few weeks and allow yourself to ease your mileage back up about 10% each week.
Don’t worry about speed. There will be plenty of time to build your speed back up later. In your first few weeks back you should run at a comfortably easy pace. If you are having trouble finding a pace that is comfortable, you may want to try run/walk intervals, but even with intervals, focus on a slow, steady pace. Going too fast, too soon, can result in injury.
MAKE TIME FOR RECOVERY
Taking rest days to recover is paramount in an injury free return to running. Try not to run more than two days in a row at first. Use the days in between for cross training or take a day off. Make sure you have at least one day off each week to give your muscles time to rest.
Incorporating weights, cycling, swimming, yoga, etc. into your training will allow your running muscles to rest while still building overall fitness. Cutting out one run per week and replacing it will a spin class did wonders for my overall fitness and significantly improved my running!
FOCUS ON CORE STRENGTH
No one likes core work. Ok, maybe there are one or two masochists out there who enjoy it, but for the rest of us it is a necessary evil. Strength in your core improves your running form, which improves your efficiency and reduces your risk of injury. So suck it up and do a few planks or crunches before dinner, in commercial breaks, in the middle of your day…basically whenever you can fit in in. 10 minutes of core work a day will do wonders for your posture.
You are making a comeback. It will take time. Have patience with yourself and take as much time to get back into running as you need. Listen to your body and take rest days as necessary to allow your body to recover so you can start your next run even stronger.
It is easy to be hard on yourself. When you are coming back after an injury or having taken some time off, its easy to fill your head with negative thoughts such as “I used to be so much faster,” “This used to be easier,” etc. Try to keep a positive attitude and replace those thoughts with positive ones such as “I ran more today than yesterday” and remember to be grateful that you once again are able to get out there and run!