Tips to get back into running

No matter how much you like to run, everyone takes a break from it from time to time. Sometimes it’s because you just finished a marathon cycle. Sometimes it’s because of injury, sickness, stress at work, vacation, and on and on.


When you get back into running after a break, the last thing you want to do is to have a setback that leads to more time off! So it’s important to make sure you get back into running safely and effectively.


If it has just been a few days, you can most likely pick up where you left off. But if it’s been more than a week, here are a few guidelines to get you back into running full-speed:


Run by feel, not pace
The first thing to understand when you start back is that you’re not the same runner as you were before. When you take time off your body loses some of its fitness, and your body composition might have changed as well (this will vary depending on the time you took off, the amount of cross-training you did, what type of cookies you ate, etc.). You won’t have to start at square one, but you do have to adjust for it.


When you start make, I recommend running based on feel rather than trying to hit a specific pace. Pushing yourself to hit the paces you were running before means there is a good chance you are working too hard. Soon enough you’ll be back running at pre-break paces, but you need to give it time.


Build mileage gradually
Your body isn’t the same when it comes to mileage, either. You need some time to get back to pounding out the miles again. As a general rule of thumb, I recommend runners spend the same amount of time at a reduced weekly mileage as they took off during their down time.


For example:


2 weeks off =
1 week @ 50% of pre-break mileage
1 week @ 75% of pre-break mileage
100% beginning with week 3


4 weeks off =
2 weeks @ 50% of pre-break mileage
2 weeks @ 75% of pre-break mileage
100% beginning with week 5


If it was longer than four weeks and you weren’t able to get a significant amount of cross-training in, it’s probably safest to start building up your mileage at 25-30% for the first couple weeks.


Don’t rush the intensity
Just like you probably don’t do hard speed work as soon as you start a training plan (if you do, we need to talk), you’re going to want to give it some time before really hitting the gas pedal. Ideally you would get your mileage back up to pre-break levels before beginning any speed work.


If it was an unplanned break in the middle of a training cycle, though, this may not be practical.


In that case, I recommend the same formula for workouts as I did for mileage. If you missed four hard workouts, run two workouts at 50 percent of your normal workout volume, your next two would be 75 percent volume and then you could resume at full volume from there.


By following these simple guidelines, you should be able to get back into running quickly and safely, and on the road to your next race!