5 tips for getting back into running
Runners come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Not everybody runs at the same level year after year after year. There are very literally, peaks to valleys, when prepping for a race and times to dial it back a notch when other priorities take precedent. You may get injured or just get bored. Sometimes, you may quit rather than fight the cold winds of a winter morning. All of these scenarios happen from time to time and that is just how the lifecycle of a runner plays out. The difficult part is coming back from a hiatus. What do you do after a long-term injury or after pregnancy? Let’s chat about how to get back into running.
Getting back into running is possible
Scientists have actually studied this phenomenon testing elite athletes to see how fast their aerobic fitness level dropped if they were to just stop their training altogether. They found that after 3 months they were effectively back to zero. All hours and hard work put into training is gone after 3 months when you take some time off. Don’t worry though, there is a way back.
Returning to running is not easy
I won’t sugar coat things, coming back from a hiatus is not easy. Not only are you retraining your muscles, but equally important is your oxygen intake and blood flow. These take time to return to peak levels. Studies have shown that for every week lost, it takes at least two weeks to regain that level of aerobic fitness again. When you get back into running again, you regain lost blood volume. Not only does this help you transport oxygen to muscles more efficiently, but you also have more fluids available for sweating, which cools your body.
Getting back into running doesn’t have to be difficult. And it is much easier to come back than starting to run for the first time. If you are returning to running after being away, these 5 things to keep in mind that will make your journey back much more manageable.
Set a goal to get back into running
A goal or purpose acts as a primary driver. When you come back set a goal, something measurable and impactful. It may be something as simple as going out to do your first run.
Personal inventory of getting back into running
Ask yourself the tough questions of why you want to return to running.
- Is it to get into better physical shape?
- Are you going to run for a cause that has deep emotional ties?
The more personal and emotional the goal, the greater the drive is to accomplish it. Plan your training well ahead to give yourself the best possible pathway to achieve that goal.
The Future is bright
Whatever you have done in the past is in the past. You may have said something like, “I’ve run 4 full marathons, so I should be able to pick right up again and run another marathon this year without any problem.” While it is good that your brain has overcome those mental hurdles and your mental state is confident, your body still needs to work up to that level again. That takes time. Once you work up to your baserunning levels, ask yourself if you want to get to that level again and keep in mind how long you may have been out of the running when you make that assessment.
Age is a factor when getting back into running
We all have a tendency to think of ourselves as younger than we are. But it is a physiological fact that as we age our rebound time lengthens. Runners in their 20s have a much easier time getting back on track than someone just 10 years older. As we age it becomes progressively more difficult to regain lost speed and resilience once you’re into your 30s, 40s, 50s, and beyond. But it can be done. And if you want to do it, you definitely can.
Taking any kind of hiatus from running causes your body strength to fade when you stop running. It also takes your strength the longest to return when you do come back.
Ease into it
When you come back to running, the competitive juices can be a good way to motivate you to continue. But don’t get ahead of yourself, jumping into a race too soon can push it to hard too fast. You don’t want to risk injury so be cautious. You know yourself and your body so figure out what “too much” is for you and try to keep it well below that level as you are getting back into the rhythm again.
Believe in yourself when getting back into running
Sometimes it may seem the road back is too long and too hard to travel. But you can do it. You’ve done it before and you were amazing. Believe in yourself and you can come back stronger and better than ever.