How to Start Running Again After A Long Break With Ease by Following These Steps

If you have been wondering how to start running again after a long break and continue procrastinating, we can assure you that you are not alone. Life happens!

Running consistently is one of the simplest yet most critical ways to improve your health and fitness in the short run and long term.

And just when you think you have set a routine and built up your stamina to run regularly, you get stuck in your busy schedule. Even if you are a very motivated runner, family commitments, never-ending demands of your job, vacations, a serious injury, or some other serious life occurrence can disrupt your running routine.

The fact is, anyone who has been running for over a year has had a break of some kind for one reason or another. This happens to even the best of us. However, the important part is getting out of this running block. 

As long as your issue is not related to ill-health or an injury, you can start running again in no time at all.

How to Start Running Again?

Irrespective of why you stopped running, getting back in form is no easy task. But do not stress because there is a solution to your predicament. 

Here are 8 simple steps for you to follow to go from being a couch potato to an expert runner without losing motivation or risking an injury. So let’s begin!

1. The First Step – Get Started

The first step is to think about whether you are ready to get started irrespective of where you are in terms of stamina or performance. 

Did you take a break from running because of lack of motivation, an injury, or work demands? While it is difficult to get back on track after a break, it is surely an achievable goal. With the right amount of motivation, a little patience, and the right plan, you can start your running once again. 

If your running break has been brief, like a week or two, it may be quite easier to get started again. But if you have been away from running for longer, like some weeks or months, you must get back in your running routine very carefully so that you do not have any setbacks caused by frustration or injury.

Running after a serious injury is a serious decision. You must be free of any pain before you start your fitness routine. In this situation, you must start slowly and gradually increase your strength training routine. This advice is based on research that supports the theory that resistance training can help runners in their path towards recovery while preventing any further injury. 

In case your injury or health issue has been serious, it is advisable to consult your physical therapist or doctor before starting your running. Their personalized advice about the frequency and length of your running routine will go a long way.  

2. Build Up Your Routine Gradually

Since you have been off of running for a long time, it may take a while to get back into the routine of running every day. Most typical runners set quite high standards for themselves in terms of distance and pace. 

If this is your running style, take a step back.

The first step is to develop consistency. Instead of looking at how much and how far you run, focus on very simple goals. One such goal could be running regularly, perhaps daily, or every other day.

One example could be setting a goal for yourself to run one or two miles at a comfortable pace for a week or two. The first week will give you a feeling of how your body responds to the exercise as you return to your running routine. 

Another plan could be to start with brisk walking with brief runs at comfortable intervals. You must remember that as you start running after a long break, your body is in the process of reconditioning and rebuilding the tendons, muscles, connective tissues, and ligaments in your legs. 

Your progress and performance will depend on how long your running break has been. However, as long as you walk or run regularly, this physical exercise reflects progress. This is when you are most likely to get frustrated or give up, so continuing your exercise in the initial days or weeks is an important achievement. 

Some people find it easier to restart a running routine on a treadmill or a track. In this way, you can stop very easily in case of pain or being out of breath. You can also adjust the speed on a treadmill to a level that is convenient and doable. 

If this isn’t your cup of tea and you find a treadmill workout demotivating, don’t do it. You can choose one of the other options we discussed earlier and find what works for you. 

Irrespective of how you begin training, you will feel a sense of accomplishment and pride by recommitting to running instead of simply thinking about how to start running again.

3. Follow Your Running Schedule

Think back to when you started running initially. You are likely to have established a beginner’s running schedule to learn running and keep motivated. 

Once you return to running after a long break, it may be useful to follow that schedule and plan again. 

This will help you to reestablish your running routine and acquire the required physical strength. It will also help you avoid any injuries that could happen if you push yourself too much. Some options can be:

  • Run a mile for 4 weeks
  • 30-minute runs for 3 weeks
  • 2-mile runs for 4 weeks
  • 5 mile per week running for a month

Once you find the right running goal for yourself, you can adjust it to a higher level of difficulty as you feel your body respond to the training.

4. Cross-Training

Cross-training is another very important method of regaining your strength and stamina. 

On the days that you don’t run, you can cross-train to improve your endurance and strength. It will help you avoid causing stress to your joints and any possible risk of causing yourself an injury.

The main purpose of starting with a simple running routine is to prevent possible injuries while rebuilding your stamina for running. Injuries cause the largest number of new returning runners to discontinue. 

It is also a fact that cross-training runners can develop their strength and stamina better and as a result, they experience running injuries less often.

Some very good activities for cross-training include cycling, swimming, walking, yoga, strength training, and pilates. By choosing activities you enjoy, you can ensure that your training program remains consistent. 

You may also find that you have gained some weight during your hiatus from running. This is completely normal and happens to most runners. In this situation, choose non-weight-based activities such as cycling or swimming on your cross-training days. 

This is especially relevant for people with past injuries.

In case you do have to take a short break from running for a few days, continue to cross-train on your non-running days too. This will help you regain and retain your strength and stamina, which will, in turn, help you get on with your running goals.

Write down your training plan so that it has both running and cross-training with a good balance, and then follow through. 

5. Get Sufficient Rest

At the start of your running routine, be more conservative about how much you exert yourself. 

An example is not running for two consecutive days. You can either take a rest day or plan cross-training days between running days. Having a complete rest day can be very beneficial for your body as it starts adapting to your running routine.

One technique that will help you as a runner is doing resistance training on days when you are not running. Choose exercises that strengthen your glutes, quads, calves, and hamstrings. These will prepare your legs to perform better when you run. 

You can also mix up your resistance training with core workouts to help you keep good form for your running.

Another very useful activity for rest days is stretching. When you perform stretching exercises for releasing flexors and stretching calves and quadriceps, you can prepare for runs. Stretching exercises also help you recover from any pent-up stress caused by running.

It is also possible that on one of your planned running days, you may experience pain or muscle stress. In case this happens, take the day off and instead, go for a slower-paced walk. 

Using pain-relieving medicines is not advisable just so that you can go through with a preplanned run. 

6. Limit Your Mileage

When you start running after a long break due to an injury, you may incline to increase your mileage very quickly. By the way, this is what many runners do. 

You may find yourself injured once again. Even if you feel energized after the first few days and are tempted to adjust your running miles after a few days, resist the urge. 

If your running break was not due to an injury, returning to the running goals you used to achieve in the past can be detrimental right after a break. 

If you used to run five miles a day before your running break, you must not immediately start with the same mileage. This can cause serious damage to your muscles and joints and even your mental endurance. As a result, you may feel defeated, frustrated, and maybe even injured.

The best strategy is to start slow. Choose a short route that is simple and easy for you to run. Also, be more conservative while planning your running mileage and schedule. During the initial days, do not run on two consecutive days. Always take a complete rest day or cross-training day between runs.

Your focus must be to build endurance, strength, confidence and keep your joints and muscles healthy. For your first few weeks, use a conversational pace while running. Once your base is well-established at six to eight weeks, you can increase it gradually and cautiously. 

The increase can be 10% a week on average.

7. Find A Running Group

Running with a group can be very helpful for you when you start running after a long break. In addition to boosting your motivation to run, running with a group will also help you in many other ways. 

Your friends will help you stick to your running goals and build your exercise program. Additionally, running with friends while carrying out fun conversations can make the activity much more enjoyable. 

If you don’t have a group of friends that runs, you can explore other options. You can check with running shops or clubs in your area to find out when they have group activities. 

Another option is to look for a charity running group. You can find many people to run with while also helping a worthy cause. 

You can also look around your circle of friends and colleagues for possible runners or fitness enthusiasts. Motivating them to start a running group activity or finding one running partner will provide immense emotional support.

8. Join A Virtual Community Or Find A Park Runner

There will be days when you find your motivation running low. This is very normal. What you need to focus on is to keep doing your running in any case because your initial goal is to build the habit.

At such times, being a part of a community can be very helpful. If you cannot find a friend or group to run with, consider joining an online community. Many runners find that being a part of a virtual community helps them to remain motivated and committed to their goals in the long term.

Virtual communities or clubs use innovative ways to keep their members committed to the individual or team goals. While you should not feel pressured to accept any goals that do not align with your running or fitness goals, you can explore them to find some that suit you. 

If you do not feel comfortable committing to a community or club, you don’t have to. 

You can instead find a regular park runner to partner with. Look around for other people who follow a similar routine for running on your route or track. 

It may happen quite naturally, even without any effort on your part. People often follow a track or route regularly and become familiar with others who do the same. Many times, you will find yourself waving or nodding at others on your track. 

Simply build on this connection and explore common fitness goals or activities.

The bottom line is that you must make it impossible for yourself to skip a running plan and stay home. After all, when you have others checking up on your progress or comparing it, you will end up running! 

9. Consider Participating in A Race

After a few weeks of running practice, you may start feeling more confident. Choosing an upcoming race can provide the required sense of direction and motivation to train for. 

Look for a short race, perhaps a 5K for a start. Later you can register for something more challenging.

Put the race schedule on your calendar and plan your training. It may be a good idea to recruit a family member or friend to join you in the race. As you can both train together, you will find increased motivation and pleasure while keeping each other on track in terms of training goals.

However, some people are simply not competitive runners. If you are one of those who run simply for the joy it brings, think of a different goal. This could be an off-road trail or day trip to explore a scenic oceanside view. 

Choose whatever goal brings you pleasure and a feeling of happiness. It is very important to choose activities and partners who help you stay motivated and committed to running.

10. Remain Positive

Remaining positive and committed to your running goals for the long term is very vital to your success. If you start recalling your previous running achievements right at the start of your running, it is likely to be frustrating. This is why you mustn’t beat yourself up.

Simply think about all the positive steps you take and slowly build up the momentum. As you define small milestones and achieve them, you will feel positive about the progress you make, even if it is small. Your confidence will increase gradually.

The key to success at this point is to remain positive. You will have a lot of time to build your strength through cross-training and running. Just enjoy your running and keep increasing your exercise level slowly and safely.

If you feel frustrated at any point about how your running progresses, find a friend or running partner to talk to. You are sure to find sympathetic friends who run as they are likely to have gone through similar experiences. 

Keep reminding yourself that you are happy and grateful to be running again, even if it is not at the pace you used to. 

Get Some Perspective

Now that we have discussed in detail how to start running again, it is important to take a step back to understand what happened to your body when you stopped running because this is what is likely to happen again if you stop now. 

Your blood volume decreases, and there is a fall in your lactate threshold. The general rule is that if you have been running and training for a longer period, you are likely to get into shape sooner when you return after a gap.

If, for example, you were running for 10 years consistently and then stopped for a year, you will be able to regain your previous form sooner than someone who ran for a year and then took a year off. 

The reason is that when you’ve been running longer, your aerobic strength has a bigger foundation. Your body can produce greater reserves of energy to your muscles which in turn helps you run better. 

Even though your fitness level fell while you were not running or exercising, it will not be as low as it was when you started running initially. This means that regaining your running abilities is easier than developing them the first time around. 

However, a break from running or exercising also affects the conditioning of your tendons, muscles, connective tissues, and ligaments. While the extent of this depends on several factors, the rebuilding process is slow. This is why it is very important to restart your running at a slow pace and build it up gradually when you make a comeback.  

Success At Last!

Once you regain your stamina and strength and are running according to your previous standards, it is important to sustain it. Maintaining a running and training schedule, taking breaks, and knowing how far you can challenge yourself are all important steps in keeping yourself in shape.

If you want to increase your strength and stamina for running further, you can take several important steps. The stamina for running is your body’s ability to carry on the effort for a gradually longer period. 

Here are some steps:

Increase your speed or distance gradually. From 4 mile runs, don’t jump to 7 miles. Try increasing one mile a week and increase only if you feel ready for a more challenging routine. Review your progress over weeks, not days.

Continue maintaining your focus on strength training and keep a minimum of 2 to 3 days per week for it. This will help you improve your overall achievement level in your running.

In addition to increasing your distance and running speed, keep changing your intervals and rest timings. 

This means that you may take breaks between running after 15 minutes on one day and after 20 on another. Additionally, the time limit of these breaks can also be changed.

As long as you continue to enjoy running, you are more likely to keep running!


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