Get Back to Running
Running is one of the most popular forms of exercise. The website Statista reported in 2017 that a whopping 55 million people actively participated in running, jogging, and trail running. While that’s a staggering statistic, it’s honestly not all that surprising.
Running has an enormous variety of benefits. Running improves your heart health and overall wellbeing. It can boost your mood, improve your sleep, sharpen your mind and focus. Running has something for everyone!
But, just because it has all these amazing benefits, doesn’t mean that it’s easy to stay “on the wagon”, so to speak. Many runners face times throughout their running career where they completely lose focus and motivation. So, how do they get back to running after these setbacks?
It’s crazy thinking about all the different setbacks you might encounter that can keep you from your running dreams and goals. It could be simple things such as work, family commitments, or anything else that takes your personal time away. But it could also be something more serious, like an injury that prevents you from running. In more extreme cases, an injury setback might even take months before you get the green light to start back up again.
No matter the reason for falling off the running wagon, it’s important to know that you can always work your way back to your previous running motivated self!
You may wonder, how long does it take to get out of running shape? Well, the answer just may surprise you! Foremost, the good news is that if you were once active, you will lose less fitness than those starting a running journey from a sedentary lifestyle. So, if you’ve been a runner in the past, you’re in better shape to get started back up!
When looking at the research, signs of losing fitness for runners show up when you have been off for as little as two weeks. Though your decline in fitness starts rapidly, it eventually levels off. Whether you’ve been off running for 12 weeks or 12 months, I’ve got the tips you need on how to get back to running!
One of the worst things you could do for yourself is to be impatient and unforgiving. Yes, you’ve slacked off. No, you haven’t been giving it your all. But now is not the time to kick yourself while you’re down. You’ve decided to start fresh, and that’s all that matters!
Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither were you! Be patient with yourself. Take every small victory in stride and don’t lose your cool. You may not be where you were in the past, but trust that you’ll be there before you know it! Know that your fitness is coming and have the patience to understand that it will take time.
Walk Before You Run
Once you’ve decided to get back to running, understand that you’ve got to walk before you run. Of course I mean this both figuratively and literally! In the figurative sense, take small steps before you dive back into running where you were, and in the literal sense you should walk to prevent injuries and ease your body back into running shape!
And don’t be down on yourself about “just walking” for your workouts! Not only are you preventing injuries by not starting off too strong, you’re also going to be experiencing a multitude of amazing benefits that many people take for granted! Walking is an amazing fat burning exercise that promotes cardiovascular health, weight maintenance, and mood improvements!
Start by walking around the block or your neighborhood until you can comfortably walk briskly for 30-45 minutes. Once you’ve built your stamina and strength to that, it’s time to work towards your goal of running!
Transition to Running
Now that you’re dedicated to get back to running and you are in walking shape, it’s time to start the slow transition to running! There are all kinds of programs out there that are perfect for people who want to transition to running. From “couch to 5k’s”, there’s something out there for everyone!
Alternating between running and walking is a popular, and effective, method to get you transitioned to running. It’s the best way to build muscle and endurance safely by slowly increasing your ratio of running to walking. For example, you may start out at a 1:3 run/walk ratio. This means, after a proper warm-up, you run for one minute, then walk for three.
As your endurance continues to increase, you would work up to a 1:2 ratio and so on until you’re running most of your workout. Because it’s designed in this way, the running will become easier and you’ll be increasing your ratio in no time!
The key on how to get back to running successfully is injury prevention. Increasing your mileage too quickly can play a huge role in an overuse injury! With running, you’re much better off being the tortoise than the hare! Start slow and stay consistent! The last thing you need is a severe knee injury that will completely set you back another few weeks or even months!
Be sure to keep the mileage low in the beginning. And when you’re ready to increase mileage, most running experts suggest the 10% rule. This is a rule that states that you should increase your long run mileage each week by only 10%. For example, if your longest distance is 5 miles, then the next week you can try for 5.5 miles.
It’s also important to note that you should also continue to add in plenty of rest and recovery between runs, making sure that you don’t do too much cardio in a given week.
How did the tortoise beat the hare? Consistency. The hare had a quick start, but burnt out. The tortoise kept chugging along, slow and steady, until he ultimately won the race. Same goes for you!
Make running a habit. Make exercising a habit. Plan your workouts and mark on a calendar the days you plan to workout. Then deliver on your plans. Each time you show up for a workout, whether it’s a walk or a run, you are one step closer to reaching your goal and getting to the best shape of your life!
If you’re not already aware, cross-training can play a huge role in getting you back to running. Some people think to be a better runner, you need to run loads of miles, but the truth is actually the opposite. Overrunning yourself is the fast track to burnout, injuries, and overworked muscles.
Cross training has not only been proven to improve your speed and stamina, but it has also been linked with preventing injuries! Some examples of cross training options include:
Swimming is the perfect form of cross training! It works your entire body while also not putting any extra pressure and weight on your joints. Running can take its toll on your knees and lower body, and swimming is a great way to relieve that tension while keeping up your cardio!
Slowing things down with a walk is always a great way to keep up your fitness, but hikes do even more! Going on a hike outdoors involves lots of changes in elevation. Walking up and down hills and other terrain changes things up while keeping you connected to the great outdoors.
Taking pressure off your knees while getting your heart rate up rapidly, cycling is perfect for those who have access to the gym, but want to change things up! If you don’t have access to a gym, you could always rent or purchase a bike and take your workout outdoors!
Another great form of cross training is strength training! While it’s a little more intense on your muscles, it will allow you to build strength which will help your running performance and endurance!
So, not only is cross training great for your off days to help you get back to running, it’s also a way to keep you motivated! By mixing up your workouts, you’ll be less bored with the same thing over and over and far more likely to stick to your program.
Run with Others
Once your running is getting back and you’re seeing significant improvements, the key to your continued success will turn from getting into shape to staying motivated. One amazing way to help your motivation is by having an accountability partner.
Find a friend or two who have similar goals to run with. By having someone to share your victories (and defeats), you are increasing your chances of sticking with your running regimen and staying on the wagon with no sign of falling back off in sight!
Consider a Race
Similar to finding others to run with, you can also start considering a race to take part in. Even in these unprecedented times of a global pandemic, there are still a ton of virtual races out there. Grab your friends, sign up, and run the race together!
Having a specific goal that you are working towards will also keep up your motivation and drive to get back to running. Whether it’s a 5K or an ultramarathon, pick something that will give you the boost you need to push yourself and keep striving.
As with everything in the fitness world, safety should always be the first priority. Before you start any training program, be sure to consult with your doctor. If you are planning on making a lifestyle change such as this, especially if you haven’t recently exercised, your doctor will be able to not only give advice but check for any health issues that may put you at risk.
Some potential health risks that would be a cause for concern include: heart problems, asthma, high blood pressure, diabetes, or previous serious injuries. It’s always better to check with your doctor and be safe, then assume you’ll be fine and be sorry.
There are many benefits that come from running. A couple examples are improvements in heart health and overall wellbeing. However, it easy for runners to lose motivation or become injured. When this happens, it is easy to lose focus and find other things to do besides training. Above, we covered 8 proven steps that will help you get back to running in no time. By using these steps, with a little patience and hard work, you can accomplish any fitness or running goals you may have in mind!