Smart strate­gies to get back to run­ning

Don’t freak out; you’ll get back into the swing of things faster than you did the first time around


SO what if you took some time off from run­ning, you’re still a run­ner! And you can still get after it like a boss. All you have to do is put one foot in front of the other (lit­er­ally) and fol­low these four ex­pert-backed strate­gies.


Strength train­ing is one of the top tips for run­ners from train­ers, so it’s im­por­tant if you’re mak­ing a come­back. “Strength is the great pro­tec­tor,” said sports medicine physi­cian Jor­dan Metzl, au­thor of Run­ning Strong. “Be­fore start­ing to run again, fo­cus on strength train­ing for at least three weeks,” said Metzl.

That’s es­pe­cially true if you took some time off to give birth to a tiny hu­man, he says. Preg­nancy can make your lig­a­ments weaker so that your hips don’t break while you’re push­ing a baby out.

On the other hand, if you’ve been hit­ting the weight room in­stead of the road on the reg­u­lar, you’re prob­a­bly good, he says.

Even if you’ve been do­ing lots of car­dio, like swim­ming or cy­cling, dur­ing your run­ning hia­tus, your mus­cles will still need a tune-up be­fore you start pound­ing the pave­ment, says Janet Hamil­ton, an ex­er­cise phys­i­ol­o­gist. Strength train­ing builds your mus­cles, in­clud­ing those that other work­out modal­i­ties, like your favourite car­dio class, can miss, she says.

Once you’re back to hit­ting the pave­ment, keep up strength ex­er­cises at least three times a week, says Metzl.


If you’ve suf­fered through shin splints, run­ner’s knee, plan­tar fasci­itis, or any other in­juries when run­ning in the past, now is the time to deal with them, says

Hamil­ton. Other­wise, his­tory will re­peat it­self (and you’ll have to read this ar­ti­cle again next year).

If you tracked your pre­vi­ous runs, take a hard look at your train­ing and con­sider the pos­si­bil­ity that you may have ramped up your mileage or speed too fast. Did you cross train enough? How old were your shoes?

And even if your in­jury was more of a nui­sance than a side­liner, Hamil­ton rec­om­mends set­ting up an ap­point­ment with a phys­i­cal ther­a­pist, sports medicine

physi­cian or a cer­ti­fied run­ning coach who is trained in phys­i­ol­ogy, kinesiology or biome­chan­ics, to talk things over.

“Tune into the whis­pers of your body, and it will never have to shout at you,” she said.


The fastest way to get back into run­ning is to slow it down. Even if that means tak­ing reg­u­lar walk breaks or sign­ing up

for a couch-to-five-kilo­me­tre walk-run train­ing pro­gramme, says Hamil­ton.

In fact, she tells all her clients who have taken a break of sev­eral months from run­ning, to spend the first cou­ple of weeks fo­cus­ing on walk­ing, not run­ning. (Try pair­ing your strength work­outs with walk­ing a few kilo­me­tres sev­eral times a week to get some kilo­me­tres un­der your feet.) Be­cause here’s the cold, hard truth: “If you don’t have a long his­tory of run­ning be­hind you, you may need to start at the be­gin­ning with your train­ing,” she said.

But don’t freak out. You’ll get back into the swing of things faster than you did the first time around, says Metzl. Thank you, mus­cle mem­ory! Just be pa­tient and lis­ten to your body to know when it’s okay to ramp up your speed and/or mileage.

“When you fin­ish your runs (or walk/ runs) the goal is to feel, ‘Wow, that was easy. I could run more,’” said Hamil­ton.

If you’re ex­hausted or feel like you need to spend the rest of the day on the couch binge-watch­ing House of Cards, you’ve pushed it too hard. Metzl sug­gests cap­ping your speed and/or mileage in­creases to no more than 10% from week to week. (So if you run eight kilo­me­tres dur­ing your first week back, you should cap your week-two mileage at 8,5 km.)


Buy­ing new run­ning shoes is the best — and not just be­cause it makes you look like a badass. Wear­ing worn shoes can com­pro­mise your run­ning form from the ground up, mak­ing run­ning way more dif­fi­cult than it needs to be and in­creas­ing your risk of run­ning in­juries like IT-band syn­drome, shin splints and even stress frac­tures, she says.

Fact: run­ning shoes are gen­er­ally ready to be re­tired after 480 km to 800 km, so if you’ve been wear­ing your run­ning shoes just be­cause they’re cute for the past sev­eral months, chances are you’ve sur­passed that bench­mark, says Hamil­ton.

She rec­om­mends that run­ners track their daily, weekly, and monthly mileage to make sure they aren’t run­ning on shoes that have passed their ex­pi­ra­tion date.

Plus, noth­ing mo­ti­vates you to get after it like a fresh pair of kicks.

— Women’s Health.

Strength train­ing builds your mus­cles, in­clud­ing those that other work­out modal­i­ties, like your favourite car­dio class, can miss.

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