Every time I take time off due to injury or health reasons, I am quickly reminded just how hard it can be to start back again.
I can’t even begin to tell you all how excited I was on Saturday morning to wake up knowing I was going to get my first chance to run again. I had a plan already written down on what my first one would be: 2 minutes running/1 minute walking for 40 minutes and finishing it off with 20 minutes of walking. I wanted to ease into running and slowly increase it.
I went out to a soft ground area in a local park and found a loop I could run that was relatively flat. I slowly started and was quickly reminded just how humbling coming back to running can be.
No matter how many times I’ve gone through this process, I always have to remind myself of the same things:
It’s Going to Feel Tough
Realistically, you probably haven’t lost as much fitness as you think. Are you going to be able to pick right back up where you left off? Probably not; however, if you treat your body well and ease yourself back into it you will be surprised how quickly your body will come back.
That being said, you have to go into it expecting it to be hard. The first several weeks are extremely humbling and I make sure that I don’t even pay attention to pace. It’s all about getting your body used to running again. Don’t worry about pace, there will be plenty of time for that later.
Control Your Breathing
Don’t be surprised if the first few runs back your heart feels like it is going to beat out of your chest. Your heart isn’t used to running, so make sure you are paying attention to controlling your breathing and keeping your heart rate at a moderate level.
This to me is more important than running a specific pace those first few weeks. It’s to get your heart used to running again and controlling your body.
Start on Soft Ground
Your body gets used to the pounding of running, but once you’ve taken a significant time off sometimes you need to slowly bring yourself back into the pounding of concrete. My first run was done on a small circle path that isn’t paved. It wasn’t exactly too exciting but it was a lot less pounding on my legs for the first run back.
If you have an area to run in on soft ground, I try to stick to it for the first couple runs. I have used soccer fields, grass in between the track, or even just the small unpaved side of the road. Your legs and body will thank you for this the first week.
One Day at a Time
If you are goal oriented like me, the moment you start to run again you automatically start to think about how you are going to get yourself back to working to your goals. However; this isn’t the time to go down that path just yet.
You want to take it slow and let your body return to running at its own pace. If you push it too hard, you can wind up injured or burnt out again. Listen to it and don’t push it more than it needs to. There will be a time when you can push your body in training, for now it’s much more important to make sure it is still recovering properly.
I focus on one day at a time and go from there. I don’t think ahead right now, because if I can’t make it through the reintroduction into running then I will be even further from working towards my goals.
Coming back to running is tricky, sometimes frustrating, but also the best feeling in the world. Don’t get frustrated – be patient with yourself and your body! Don’t panic over the fitness you lost, it will come back in time. The most important thing you can do for your body is to let it move at its own pace.
I’ll be back out running this morning and tomorrow morning and then will break until the weekend. Fingers crossed it all goes well!
What was the last “break” you took from running?
How long does it usually take your body to get back into it?