start running after a long break

How to start running after a long break

Been out of the running game for a while? Not to worry, we can help you start running after a long break. 

People take time off for many reasons. Could be an injury, work responsibilities, or family that demanded your time. It may seem like a daunting task to get back into running after taking time off. I’ll tell you from personal experience, returning to running is achievable. As long as you have a good game plan and some patience, you can get on back on track without any issues.

Ask your doctor before you start running after a long break

This is the medical disclaimer.

Always check with your doctor before starting any kind of intense exercise activity just to be sure everything is in proper working order. Your doctor can give guidance and insight based on your individual situation and health history. 

Make it a habit

After a hiatus, it can seem difficult to get back into the groove of running on a regular basis. 

Consistency is key as you’re getting back into running. In the beginning don’t worry about form, or speed, or distance. Set small, achievable goals so that you can build on small successes.

For example, you could start out with an easy brisk walk. Remember that you are at the beginning of the process of rebuilding your habit. It may take some time depending on how long you’ve been on a break from your running schedule. But as long as you’re carving out some time, even if it’s just walking, you’re still making progress.

Building habits takes time. 

Regardless of what you do to get started again, you’ll gain a sense of pride by recommitting to running. As you set and tackle small goals, that sense of accomplishment will carry you forward to bigger and better goals.

Find a training plan as you start running after a break

If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. 

When I first started running, I followed a very beginner training schedule to learn how to run properly and to keep myself motivated. You may have done the same. Many runners who have taken time away from running also find it helpful to follow a beginner schedule to get back in a running habit and avoid injury. 

For chubby runners here are a few plans to get you back into running:

Limit your distance

Rome was not built in a day.

Chubby runners who return after an injury often find themselves injured again because they went too far too fast.  Understanding that it will take time is a huge key to success when returning to running. Patience is a muscle that you may need to rebuild. 

Slowly build mileage as you start running after a long break

The name of the game is consistency.

Start slowly and be patient. Start with a short, easy, flat route that you know is no problem. Be conservative with your running plan. When you’re just getting back into it, try to space out your running days to every other day. This will give you time to rest or cross-train between running days.

Run at a comfortable, conversational pace

To build confidence in running again requires you to set and accomplish small goals. This means that your pace will be slower to start. Speedwork is out for now. Run at a comfortable, conversational pace. This means you should be able to talk while you’re running. If you are breathing too hard and cannot carry on a conversation, slow it down.

Let your muscles build as you start running after a long break

Muscle takes time to rebuild.

Even though your mind may be ready to run 10 miles out of the gate, your body needs time to build again. It’s not just that your muscles aren’t ready, but your joints aren’t prepared for the constant pounding of the pavement. Again, remember to be patient. Too much too fast could cause you to end up feeling frustrated, defeated, or even injured.

Cross-training is key

Changing up your routine, keeps your muscles confused and that keeps them growing.

To give your running more success, you should be mixing up your training with cross-training on the days when you are not running. This creates muscle confusion, and consequently your muscles grow stronger. Cross-training allows you to increase endurance and build strength without over-stressing your joints and increasing your risk of injury. 

Cross-training adds variety

I’ve talked about the power of cross-training in other articles. Here are some great examples of good cross-training activities for fellow chubby runners:

  • Swimming
  • Cycling or spinning class
  • Weight training
  • Yoga
  • Rowing machine

Taking days off from running will give your body time to recoup from the constant pavement pounding of running and add some variety to your life. Both of which help to be consistent with your running plan.

Rest is vital as you start running after a long break

Sleep and rest are just as important as consistency in your running program.

Try not to be too aggressive with your running plan as you’re getting back into the swing of things. Don’t run on two consecutive days. Take an active rest day in between running days or cross-train between runs. Even a full day of rest can also help with recovery.

Stretching

Stretching is also very helpful on both rest days and running days.

Stretch legs, hip flexors, quadriceps, and calves especially. This will keep you limber and help to prevent injury. Also, do full-body stretches. Running is a full-body exercise, so remember to stretch all muscle groups at least a few days per week.

Sleep

Sleep is the time when your body can rest, repair, and regroup. 

As you get back into running again, try to get a good night’s rest every night. This time is crucial for your recovery. Putting your body through the intense exercise again after time away is a real shock to the system. Sleep and rest will help your body regroup. As running and cross-training help to build muscle through use, sleep helps to build muscle through non-use.

Plan for a race as you start running after a long break

Planning for a race may seem like a crazy idea, but it might give you the motivation you need.

Plan for a race? After I’ve been away from running for years? I know it sounds crazy, but for me, setting a long-term goal gives me motivation and something to shoot for. Once you’ve got a few weeks of jogging under your belt, you may want to pick a race to train for. Look for a shorter race, like a 5K, before you think about a long-distance race.

Motivation

Having a race on the calendar helps me stay motivated and driven. The very act of writing a goal down increases the likelihood of success. If you don’t think you can do it alone, get a friend or family member to run it with you. That can increase motivation and be a great step for success.

Positive mindset builds strength as you start running after a long break

Experts continue to find evidence that our thoughts — positive and negative — don’t just have psychological effects, they also have physical effects on our body. 

Focus on positive things, like past successes. This can help keep you moving forward and keep you motivated. Dwelling on injury, or your time away from running, can make you depressed and discouraged. 

Affirmations

Saying positive things about yourself out loud every morning can actually help you build confidence and success. 

It may sound silly, but just like writing down goals increases the likelihood of success, saying positive things out loud, increases the likelihood of success. As you set and reach each goal you’ll feel good about your progress and get a confidence boost. Patience is key during this building stage.

Gratitude journal

One great way to build success is to recognize past success. 

The mind is a muscle just like any other. As you exercise it, it will get stronger. Many life coaches teach that writing in a gratitude journal causes the mind to grow. As you recognize blessings, accomplishments, and positive people in your life, you increase the mind’s capacity to recognize more of these blessings in your life. Success builds on success. That process can help you stay motivated and positive as you get back into running after a long break.

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