Before you head out for your first run back, take a look at what took you out in the first place. For many people, it was injury.
Whether it was chronic soreness, discomfort during and after your runs or a minor injury turned into a chronic injury, eventually you just stopped running altogether. Now, you’re ready to get back into running.
In this article we have got some tips on how to get back to into running for good this time – no pain, no discomfort, just sustainable improvements to keep you running longer.
To begin, once you’ve identified why you stopped running, find a training plan that ensures it won’t happen again during your comeback. A plan will give you a manageable, day-by-day approach so that your comeback does not overwhelm you.
No matter what type of injury or pain caused you to stop in the first place, cross-training, mobility, the plan you choose, and the changes you make are going to be integral parts of your successful comeback.
STRENGTH TRAINING & CROSS-TRAINING ARE KEY
Be sure that strength training is incorporated into your training program. And on your strength days, take the workout seriously. Focus on your form, and really push yourself to build strength that will translate in your running form.
Sports medicine studies show that strength training improves runners of all distances: marathoners and sprinters alike.
Moreover, cross-training and building strength is going to improve your body’s readiness, which, studies show, reduces the risk of injury.
Cross-training builds muscle groups that running does not. So, if you’re out on a run and your body winds up in an unexpected position due to fatigue, a slip, or something else, those other muscles will be groomed to help out.
Strength training introduces the body to new shapes and positions, and it then builds strength in those positions. By strength training more regularly during your comeback, you will have more muscles available to help you out on a run.
Mobility needs to be on your to-do list every day when you’re coming back, even on your rest days. Even if you the only training you did that day was a light jog or an easy run, foam rolling and some intentional stretching are non-negotiables.
Running and cross-training put your body under stress, and during training you are teaching your body to adapt to that stress. But the real adaptation happens in the recovery process, when torn muscle fibers repair and grow stronger.
Mobilizing and stretching will set your body up for proper recovery. Ramp up both processes to put yourself in the best position to come back stronger from a long break.
A comeback is a valuable time for a runner; it often allows runners to better understand the body’s mechanics and why running works the way it does. Many runners coming back enjoy taking up yoga or pilates, practices that teach participants about the human body and the way your muscles truly work.
GET SPECIFIC ABOUT YOUR PLAN
Choose a specific training plan, as they are not all created equal. Identify some goals as you return to running. If signing up for a half marathon will motivate you to come back, go ahead and do it and tailor your training accordingly.
Choosing a specific training plan is especially helpful for runners who are coming back and want to train for their first marathon or a similar long race. Many race distances or courses are too tough to come back to unless your training was specifically geared for that race.
If no training plans seem to fit your specific needs, consider getting a running coach who can design the plan that you need. If your race is local, chances are your running coach will know the course and can take you through the steps necessary for you to achieve your goal.
If you know you will be working out on a treadmill usually, pick a training plan that is geared towards treadmill workouts. If you have struggled with weight gain since leaving running, consider finding a plan that incorporates nutrition, and make weight loss a focus of your training.
Also, if you have not been doing much cardio during your run hiatus, be sure to pick a plan that includes walk breaks at first.
Remember, sustainability is the goal not only for injury prevention purposes, but also because it will make training bearable. And if training is bearable, you will keep going with it.
ADJUST YOUR HABITS
The goal this time around is to train and run sustainably, which clearly didn’t happen the first time around. To help fix this, take a look at your running habits from when you used to run before.
Was there certain running gear you found uncomfortable? Get rid of it. Were you going a long period of time without mobilizing? Foam roll. Were you focusing enough on your run form? Make sure you are this time around.
Adjust your habits to get rid of the things that were holding you back the first time. For example, you may have not even realized that your glutes weren’t engaged while you ran before, but now you know and you can fix it.
Coming back is an opportunity to do things better. So be sure you can identify which things need to be done better before you come back.
And look at everything here – your nutrition, your hydration, your flexibility, your strength, your running form, all of it. If there are adjustments you can make without too much disruption, make them.
Overall, coming back to running can be a blessing in disguise for many runners. By fixing the things that took them away from running in the first place, running often becomes much more enjoyable. And when running is enjoyable, you tend to see better results.
So, embrace this opportunity and get dialed in about how you are training and what you can do better.