7 Tips for Getting Back to Running After a Long Break

Are you ready to start running again after a long break? Whether you've taken an extended break from running because of an injury, a busy schedule, or lack of motivation, here are some tips on how to ease back into running.

If you've only been sidelined from running for a short period of time, such as a week or two, and don't feel like you should be completely starting over, check out these tips for coming back from a short running break.

1
Join a Running Group

Group of runners
vgajic/iStock

If you've typically run alone in the past, try to increase your motivation (and get lots of other great benefits) by running with others. Check with local running clubs or running shops to see when they offer group runs. Some local races offer some group runs leading up to the race. Or, find a charity training group—you'll find lots of people to run with and help a worthy cause.

2
Follow a Training Schedule

When you first started running, you may have followed a beginner training schedule to learn how to run and help you stay motivated. Although they have previous running experience, many runners who’ve taken a long break from running find it helpful to follow a beginner schedule so they can establish a regular running habit and avoid getting injured. Here are some beginner schedules you might want to try:

3
Cross Train to Build Fitness

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Blend Images - Dave and Les Jacobs

Cross training in between your running days is an excellent way to increase your endurance and strength without running too much and risking injury. Examples of good cross-training activities for runners include swimming, aqua jogging, cycling, walking, strength training, yoga, and Pilates. Choose activities that you enjoy so that you know you'll keep at it.

4
Avoid Doing Too Much Too Soon

Many runners coming back from injuries find themselves re-injured because they increase their mileage too quickly. If you've been off from running due to an injury, make sure you have clearance from your doctor or physical therapist before you get back to running. Ask for their advice on how much and how often you should be running.

If you're not following a training schedule, track your mileage so you don't overdo it and get injured. During your first several weeks, don't run two days in a row. You can take a rest day or cross-train in between runs. Don't increase your overall weekly mileage by more than 10 percent per week. Keep all your runs at an easy, conversational pace for at least six to eight weeks, until you have a good running base established.

5
Create a Running Habit

After a long break from running, it can be tough to get back into the groove of running on a regular basis. But if you take steps to establish a running habit, such as scheduling your runs on your calendar and giving yourself small rewards, you can make a running habit stick. Get more tips on how to establish a running habit.

6
Pick a Short Race

Once you've got a few weeks of running under your belt, pick a race to train for. Start with something small, such as a 5K, before you register for a longer race.

Having a race on the calendar will help you stay motivated to keep running. See if you can recruit a friend or family member to do it with you, to increase your motivation (and fun).

7
Don't Get Discouraged

It can be frustrating to think about your past running accomplishments and how they’re out of reach at this point. Don't beat yourself up and put pressure on yourself to get to your previous level. Set new, smaller goals for yourself so that you feel good about reaching milestones and build more confidence as you continue running. They'll be plenty of time to train and work on beating your PRs. Just try to enjoy running as you work on building up your fitness level gradually and safely.

If you do find yourself getting frustrated about your progress, talk to sympathetic running friends, who most likely have had a similar experience at some point. And remind yourself to be grateful and happy to be able to run at all, even if it's not the same pace that you've run in the past.

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