When was your last run?
It’s been how long since you ran regularly? A month, six months, a year, maybe even longer, does it really matter? If you are reading this you are thinking about or starting to run again.
THAT IS GREAT!
Stop and think first
So were you planning to go out and run a 5K at a sub 7:00 minute pace as your first run back?
Let’s stop and think about that first.
Just because you are ready to start running again doesn’t mean your body is ready to pick up where you were when you stopped – however long ago. In that time you haven’t been running, your body has changed, probably added on a few pounds and isn’t in running shape.
I know you probably cross-trained (didn’t you?) while you were not running, but is it the same as running? Not always and it does take some time (varies by the person) to get back into running shape.
Unfortunately, as I learned the hard way last year, there is a process to go through before you can get back to that kind of running and it doesn’t happen over night. Not to shoot down your dreams – it might not ever happen. In my opinion you have to dream, but also have your feet firmly planted in reality.
The 5 most important things that I learned when I came back are:
1. Talk with your medical professional? They will have recommendations about what you should and shouldn’t do – they are the experts. Yes I know is may be a pain in the butt to schedule time with a medical professional when you just want to run. However it is one of those things you should do before starting any exercise program – including running.
2. Start slowly, yes this means both your speed and distance.
3. Have your running form evaluated by someone who knows something about running and has a clue about what they are talking about. There are several different names for correct running form, but after watching all the videos, reading blogs, websites and book proper running form seems to comes down to:
- Stop before you run to check your posture
- Mid foot/fore foot/full foot strike
- Run under your hips
- Lean from the ankles
- Running tall
- No cross-over center-line arm swing,
- Running relaxed
- Shortened stride
- Faster cadence
- Run quietly
I wish that I had worked on my running form when I started my comeback, instead of 4 months in, when I had re-learned a lot of bad habits and it took me considerably longer to unlearn those habits, when I started to work on proper running form seriously.
4. Be persistent, you will have setbacks, aches, pains and be frustrated because you are not progressing as fast as you think you should. Just keep plugging along and before you know it you will be back to running, closer to the speed/distance that you are looking to do.
5. Have fun. Running is not a job, yes it can be hard work, but it also can be fun and if you forget that, then running becomes monotonous and something that you find yourself “forgetting” to do. Find others to run with that share your passion for running of running – it helps. Get online, join a running club, run in races, but most of all have fun when you run.
The reality is that
this is not the end-all of all lists on what you need to do while coming back from a running lay-off, but they are a few things that I learned during my recovery from a 15 month absence and subsequent return to running.
Welcome back to running. I hope that you enjoy running and listen to your body better than I did, during my comeback. Also remember that there is a tremendous online running community out there to support you during your return to running. There is always someone out there who is willing to help you over some of the hurdles you will meet and give you a little kick in the pants if you want or need it .
Run While You Can and Keep smiling – Good things will happen!