We have all been there. Running can ebb and flow throughout our life and sometimes life just happens and running takes a back burner. Hello 2020 pandemic! Sometimes we think we are just going to take a few days off to regroup but that turns into a few months off and we are basically starting over again. It can be easy to feel deflated at this point and not know how to come back after a break from running. This can be completely different yet exactly the same as if you were a noob runner. I think it is even harder than being a new runner actually!!
How to Come Back After a Break from Running
Lots of tips and advice that I have used personally and that others have suggested when getting back into it! My goal is to teach you How to come back after a break from running safely and injury-free. We don’t want to start back up again just to have to get sidelined all over again!
Stop the Comparison Game
I think it is harder to come back after a break because of the comparison game. We know what we are capable of but because of the time off…well we aren’t at that level anymore. This mentally can play a toll on us!! My biggest tip is to delete old PRs off of your watch if you use one. This will let you start fresh and not think about the past and how awesome you were. Work on setting new PRs and getting those goals accomplished again. I reset all of my PRs after I had my son. I just wasn’t the same runner that I was pre-pregnancy and I was starting over from scratch after almost 2 years off. It made all the difference in the world for me.
Run for the Love of It
Why did you take time off from running? Too busy? Burnt out? Just didn’t make it a priority? Most of those things can circle back to the root cause of not loving it anymore. If we don’t have fun and enjoy running then why would we do it? Find your love for the sport again and just run for fun. Don’t worry about times, or distances, or paces. Just run for fun! It will make a huge difference on your attitude with starting over again!
Take Things Slow
Be honest with yourself at the beginning and realize that you aren’t able to go as fast and far as you think you should. Take a step back and slow things down. Be patient and stick with it. It can take several weeks until things start to click again and you really enjoy the actual act of running. Rushing into mileage and speed is a recipe for injury which will lead to even more time off from running!
Where to Start
Where to start with your training varies based on how long you have been off. A good rule of thumb however is:
- If you’re off 15 days to 1 month: 60% of previous mileage average
- If you’re off 1 to 3 months: 50% of previous mileage average
- If you’re off 3 months: Start from scratch
Keep in mind that even if you are starting at 60% of your previous mileage average you will need to take time and gradually build back up. Don’t just do a “restart week” and only decrease the mileage for that one week then jump back up to the previous. This is again a recipe for injury and more time off!
Find Your Why
I recently talked about this in my post about How to Start Running, be sure to check it out for a FREE training plan too if you are in need!! Finding your why is so important for running. Why do you run? This can be ever-evolving and something that needs to be re-evaluated regularly. This also circles back to running for the love of it. Finding your why will help you run for the love of it again. It will give your running a purpose. Really dig deep here. I have a lot of whys for running. Mainly to set a good example for my son and to keep me healthy in order to keep up with him.
Find a Buddy and be Consistent
If you don’t already have one then find a running partner. They can be so so helpful with keeping you consistent with getting back into the groove. Most runners, even your speedy friends, are more than happy to run slower on their easy days to keep things great for your comeback! I know I would be! I would be thrilled to have a running buddy out there with me at 5 am.
Set a goal for yourself to be consistent. Consistency is key to making progress and getting back into the swing of things. You have options for different goals each week but I recommend starting with just 2-3 runs per week. Enough to get back into the habit and see progress but not too much that you are going to get injured by doing too much too soon.
Work on Your Weaknesses
Since you are getting back into the groove of things now is the perfect time to add in some good practices. Specifically speaking strength training and mobility work. If you weren’t doing them previously now is the perfect time to make the habit of incorporating them. These two things will be key to keeping you from getting injured and make you are stronger runner as well!
Shameless plug here. I have my Run Strong strength program for runners that you can purchase right HERE to help you with your weakness. This is everything a runner needs to work on strength that is specifically tailored to runners!
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Dr. Abby Siler, PT, DPT is a Physical Therapist with 10 years of experience in a variety of settings. She has spent the majority of her time treating athletes in orthopedic clinics and worker’s compensation cases. She is a runner herself for the past 15 years and a lifelong athlete. Dr. Abby loves to teach runners how to stay injury free and out of her clinic.