How to Return to Running after a Break
As runners we all hate to see the If you’re like me, taking a hiatus from running is the last thing you want to do. But sometimes we don’t have a choice. We become injured, lose motivation, or get caught up in life. Whatever the reason for our extended break, coming back to running can be complicated and, if we’re not careful, painful.
The good news: It doesn’t have to be this way. To help you make a safe and successful return to running, here are a few of my favorite tips.
Patience is a virtue
After a prolonged break from running, it can be tough to get back into the swing of things. Your gait might feel “flat” and your body might feel more sore than normal. In fact, this is to be expected.
Our bodies don’t bounce back into running shape overnight. The amount of time you have taken off will play a role in how much your body needs to adapt. It could take weeks or even months for your muscles, tendons, bones, and ligaments to get strong enough to handle the stress of running.
This is where patience comes into play. As you return to running, it’s important to start slow, add in cross training, and stay mindful of how your body is feeling. If you’re coming back from an injury, avoid jumping back into your usual routine, as this can place excessive stress on your body.
Consistency is key
When you return to running, you’ll need to slowly (again, patience!) build consistency in your routine. This might mean incorporating periods of walking, cross training, and even strength work to help your body handle the stress of running—potentially over the course of several months.
Consistent training that supports all aspects of your body is the most critical factor in making a sustainable return to running. A specific workout or volume of training will not make or break your comeback. That said, every runner’s return to running is different. This is why it’s so important to consult with a knowledgeable physical therapist—one who can guide you back to where you want to be.
Correct the imbalances
The majority of the training we do as runners is highly repetitive and often one-directional. Unfortunately, this leaves our bodies vulnerable to imbalances and overuse injuries.
Your functional strength can significantly impact how quickly you return to running. For this reason, consider incorporating strength work that isolates specific deficits in your hips, core, and ankles to correct imbalances. Strength training, when done properly, can also help you tolerate a higher volume of running. To best correct your individual imbalances, be sure to get professional guidance on movements and strength progressions.
Make a triumphant return to running
It’s frustrating to be kept away from the thing that keeps you sane. And getting back to running after an extended time away isn’t always a piece of cake.
If you’re making a return to running, remember: your body is resilient. Have patience, be consistent in your training, and spend time correcting any strength imbalances. Before you know it, you’ll be back.
If you’re thinking about a return to running, you don’t have to go it alone. Our coaches are here to walk (and eventually run!) alongside you and give you the guidance and tools you need to succeed. As physical therapists, they can advise you on the right strength training and movements, too.