How To Get Back Into Running After a Long Pause

You vowed it would never happen, yet it did. Once you start running and get into a grove you would hope you would never lose your rhythm and have to start from scratch, but sometimes it happens. Whether it is something beyond your control like injury or illness or other things in life had to be prioritized at the time, for some reason you stopped running. It probably sounds scary to get back into running but rest assured you can do it!

All you have to do in order to get back into running is put on your shoes and put one foot in front of the other! Sure, it’s a bit more complicated than that. But if you’re looking for answers to the question, “How to start running again,” you’ve come to the right place!

One note of caution: If you are returning to running after an injury that sidelined you, you should get a physician’s clearance prior to training. A good rule of thumb is that you should be able to walk for 45 minutes at a brisk pace prior to trying to run.

How Do I Get Back Into Running After Years?

If you have taken a long hiatus the best advice is to start slow, short, and easy. Let’s take those one at a time.

Start Slow: This is in reference to both the speed at which you move and the speed in which you try to make progress. If you take off too fast you may end up injured or too sore to run another day. For those reasons, taking it easy in the beginning is a great idea.

Also, even though it may be tempting to run every single day, resist the urge. You are far more likely to have success if you start off running three or four days each week for a few weeks.

Run Short: Maybe when you stopped running you could knock out long runs like a champ. Remember not to focus on where you once were. You only need to be better than the person you were yesterday!

Start out with short runs, perhaps even intervals. Setting smaller, very achievable goals will help you feel and find success.

Run Easy: This may sound the same as slow, but think about being relaxed and gentle with yourself as you journey your way back. Keep your body relaxed and your mind at ease. Run in some of your favorite places. Be patient while the changes happen.

Specific Ways to Ease Into It

There are many ways to get there. After all, the journey is yours. A couple of popular methods include C25K and intervals.

Couch To 5K: C25K is one way to get running. A program that starts off with you walking, it adds running intervals as you progress through the program. Couch to 5K has successfully guided many, many athletes to distance completion. In this program, the goal is to cover the distance and the app helps you to do so.

Intervals: Another way to ease into it is to follow an interval plan. The very first time you head out to run you should start off walking for 5-10 minutes in order to adequately warm up your body. After you have done that, jog for just :30 seconds or one minute.

If you can run for that long without too much trouble, resume walking for anywhere from three to five minutes. After your walk interval, run again (hopefully for the same amount of time you walked the first time).

interval running

If you are doing intervals the plan is to get to where you can walk and run the same set intervals for a predetermined amount of time. The best advice I can give is to perform that interval set at least three times successfully in the same 7-9 day period of time before you add to the run interval.

An example of how you might progress:

  • 5 minutes walking: 1 minute running
  • 4 minutes walking: 2 minutes running
  • 3 minutes walking: 3 minutes running

Of course, you can see the pattern emerging. It is important to note that for some people, they will find the greatest success in continuing to interval indefinitely. Some very successful athletes take a walk break periodically throughout an entire marathon. You heard that right. It’s called the Galloway Method and athletes have qualified for the Boston Marathon using this method.

Remember: there’s no shame in walking if that’s your plan.

How Long Does It Take To Get Back Into Running Shape?

It really does depend on the individual on how long it will take to get into running shape. The first variable is how bad of shape you have slipped into. If you have been eating potato chips washed down with gallons of Mountain Dew, you likely will have a harder journey than someone who has been engaging in other types of physical activity and just not running.

If you have been doing other types of exercise, including fairly intense cardiovascular activity, you will regain running fitness much more quickly.

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It also depends on how long you are off. Many people are shocked to hear that in just three months off of cardiovascular activity a person loses between 25-30 percent of their V02 max. If you are off for three months or more, consider yourself starting from scratch as far as mileage building.

Most experts agree that the most a person should consider trying to run week 1 is 10-15 miles, which is something I would never suggest for a person entirely new to running.

In addition to that, when gearing up to add mileage each week remember the 10% rule. You should never add more than 10% to your weekly mileage total.

If you run 3-5 days each week and are patient, you should find yourself in fairly good running shape in 8-10 weeks.

What Is The Fastest Way To Get Back Into Running Shape?

If you aren’t patient and want to see fast progress, there are some things you can do to speed things along. First, core strength is an important aspect of strong running. If you are only going to do one thing in addition to your running regiment you should incorporate at least 8 minutes of daily core work. Since your core is so crucial to running, you will quickly reap the benefits of this.

If you are looking to make other changes to help you progress more quickly, after you are running consistently for a few weeks you can add some variation to your workouts. Certainly not a plan for novice runners, but after you have gotten into the swing of things you can see big progress by mixing up the running workouts.

Most runners find huge gains when they add fartleks, speed work, hills, and a weekly long run to their schedule. Again, these aren’t things you should expect of yourself if you are brand new to running or if you have taken a lot of time off.

The Hardest Step

If you are wanting to get back into running, the easiest piece of advice is to just do it. In running, as in life, the hardest step is typically the first one. One of my favorite personal rules for the runs I don’t want to do is just to set out for 10 minutes. If after 10 minutes you aren’t feeling it, turn around and head home. Chances are good, however, that after 10 minutes you will be feeling pretty good and will choose to go further.

Good luck and remember: be patient and gentle with yourself. Rome wasn’t built in a day.

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