It happens to most runners…you start to get really comfortable in your training and start to see great progress in PRs, see your miles rack up and then suddenly…
BAM…you are on the sidelines. Whether it’s an injury, weather…or in my case a baby, you suddenly find yourself not able to run. And for me it’s been nearly a year since I’ve run. And a year ago I was really clipping along. And now that The Babe is older I can actually sneak out in the morning and run a bit…or run a race…but after this past weekend’s race I find myself starting all over. It’s like I am starting from scratch. So now I need to fall back on my beginner training from when I was with Team In Training and slowly increase my mileage and play some serious mind games. But it’s been so long that I have sort of forgotten how to do it.
So the question becomes: How do I get going again after being sidelined for over a year? Well…here are some tips for just that question!
- Get some perspective. In general, the longer you have been training, the more quickly you’ll be able to get back into it after a layoff. So, someone who has been running consistently for a few years, then has a layoff of a year, will have an easier time returning to running than someone who has only just started, then is off for a year. Also, you lose conditioning. This is why running slower, reducing mileage, and allowing rest and recovery days are so important.
- Find a good plan. There are tons of free training plans out there, but be sure to stick to the 10% rule…don’t increase your mileage by more than 10% week to week. I am a big fan of Hal Higdon’s training plans, also Jeff Galloway has great plans too! Join a local running group, there will be folks that can give you some pointers and like minded people never hurt!
- Start with low miles. Don’t just pick up where you left off mile wise. Just because you were able to run say a marathon before your break from running does not necessarily mean that you should jump back into those long runs. Start slow and bank a few 2 and 3 miles runs for a few weeks and slowly increase your miles…also remember to take walking breaks. Start with three to four short runs per week so that you’re running every other day. Also try five to 10 minutes of running at a time, or alternate between running and walking.
- Set a goal. I personally am a goal oriented person and need something on the horizon in order to stick to the above mentioned plan. Otherwise I will blow off a run, and pay for it later. I set some big running goals this year, not realizing how frickin hard it was going to be to get back on track. So I have been reassessing my goals and there is no way that I would be ready for a half at the end of May…perhaps in the fall; but I am not going to push it now.
- Train strong. Strength training will help you in the long run (no pun intended!) Add some strength training to build those muscles back up, especially if you’ve not been able to do much exercise at all. If you’ve been sans running due to injury be sure to meet with a PT, or a trainer to get some good injury prevention tips. You don’t want to get stuck on the sidelines again. Also remember the 10 percent rule… If you’ve been off for three months or more, don’t increase your weekly mileage or pace by more than 10 percent, week over week. It is totally ok to increase it less if you need to.
- Train safe. Avoid hitting the open road right away. A track allows you to walk or run without getting too far from your car. Starting on the treadmill can be helpful, too. Or get a running buddy just in case.
- Remember to Cross-train. Getting some exercise in everyday will help your cardiovascular fitness. But that doesn’t mean you need to run. Add 2 or 3 days of cross-training to your routine. Spin, rowing, swimming, or using an elliptical… yoga, Pilates, weight training, and core exercises can help you get stronger and be a more well rounded runner…and perhaps help to ward off injuries in the future. Also never underestimate the power of walking!
Do you have tips for getting back to it after a break from running? What are your go-to training tips for getting back on the road?