3 Simple Tips for Getting Back Into Running
It's happened. You fell off the running wagon. Maybe you're suffering from post-marathon burnout, or maybe the call of the couch was just too strong. Either way, you're looking to lace up your shoes again, but you're nervous. Do you really have to start all over?
The good news is, you may not have lost as much fitness as you thought. In fact, a break from running could help make you a stronger, faster runner.
Gauge your fitness level
Many runners mistakenly believe that if they take any time off, they will immediately find themselves out of shape. And while gaining fitness does take longer than losing it, you only lose about 20% of your total fitness after a twelve-week hiatus.
Still, you may want to take it easy for those first few runs back as you get a feel for your current fitness level. Remember to respect where you're at now-- run at a pace that feels comfortable, even if it's slower than before. The key is to get back to where you were without getting injured along the way.
Consider what first drew you to running. Was it the solitude? The chance to get outside? Try to focus on those things as you get back into the sport. Sometimes runners obsess over the numbers instead of simply enjoying the run.
As you get back into a routine, allow yourself to experience the joy of running, too. Your pace may not be as fast as you'd like, but is there anything more energizing than a run on a crisp fall morning? Or more tranquil than a quick jog on your favorite trail? Focusing on what you love about the sport may help keep your motivation level high as you rebuild your fitness.
Remember the basics
Another great thing about taking a break from running is it gives you a chance to relearn the basics. Proper form may be beneficial for your performance and injury prevention-- but it's easy to fall into bad habits.
During your first few runs back, try to stay mindful of your form. Keep your head back, elbows bent at 90 degrees, and make sure your foot lines up with your knee when it hits the ground. Taking the time to develop good form now will help you down the line.
Taking a break from running doesn't mean you have to quit for good. Starting over can be a positive experience, and can actually improve your running. So, lace up those shoes and hit the streets!