For everyone who has taken a break from running over the summer holidays, weddings, BBQs (and every other reason not to run on a summer weekend), it is time to get back into the swing of things and start running again, to get ahead of those autumn goals. The key to successfully returning to running after some time off is taking your time and not trying to do too much, too soon. It will take time for your body to adapt to the demands of running again, so don’t rush and enjoy the journey with these guidelines:
It is important to remember that you’ve had a break from training so avoid rushing back, expecting to be as fit as you were before the break! In the beginning, a walk-run programme is effective because it enables you to be ‘on the road’ longer than you would be if you run the entire time. For example, you might be able to run for 10 minutes but if you insert a 1 minute walk after every 3-4 minutes of running, you may find you can run for 15 or 20 minutes. Take a look at the Great Run run-walk training plans for more ideas.
When you are returning to running, the most important factor is ‘time on feet’. There is little point in running like a bat-out-of-hell if you can only maintain it for a few minutes! If you slow to a pace where you can hold a conversation, you will be able to run for longer.
CHECK YOUR SHOES
The only equipment you need is a pair of comfortable, supportive running shoes that meet your requirements. If you haven’t run for a while wearing your old running shoes can actually cause injuries. In time, the cushioning stiffens and hardens, breaking down, and your shoes will not provide the support you need. If you are in this category, go to a specialist running shop for advice and an assessment.
Running is a high-impact aerobic activity, therefore it is fantastic for burning calories and improving your cardiovascular health. However, it is important to ensure you have a well-rounded routine that includes strength and flexibility training, to keep your muscles strong and joints mobile. Weight training, calisthenics and pilates will help you with this and are especially useful for getting your body used to running again, following a period of inactivity.
SCHEDULE REST DAYS
Do not run every day. Your body adapts to training when you rest so if you run excessively, it won’t have the opportunity to make the changes. Try running on alternate days to ensure you progress, without doing too much.
LISTEN TO YOUR BODY
It’s normal to feel a bit sore when you return to running but don’t ignore pain or discomfort which lasts for more than several days. If you have a niggle, rest for a couple of days and seek professional advice if it doesn’t go away.
SET A GOAL
When you are trying to re-establish a routine, setting a goal is an effective way to focus your mind. It is important to ensure it is challenging and realistic, motivating you to lace up your trainers regularly! And remember, goals don’t have to be races – your aim could be to fit in your old jeans or run continuously for ten minutes.
HEED TO THE 10% RULE
It is exciting to experience changes to your health, fitness and energy levels when you become fit, but don’t get overexcited and increase your mileage too quickly. The ‘10% rule’ means never increasing your weekly mileage by more than 10% at a time, and will ensure you progress slowly but surely.