Sometimes something can get in the way of our running, leading us to have a short or long break from it.
We may have sustained an injury which needs time to heal. We may have had a major event occur in our lives, for example a new job or a new house, which can divert our time and energies for a while. We may have suffered an emotional trauma which leaves our energies depleted while we recover. These are just some reasons why we may at some point realise that we have not run for a long while.
At some point too, however, we may sense the urge to start up again, once our life has settled back down/stabilised, once we have recovered from a physical or emotional trauma. We can start to get an “itch” to don our running shoes and head out of the door.
After a prolonged break from running we would do well to consider a few things to make sure we start and continue, happily and healthily:
Make it gradual
Do some strength-training
Increase your flexibility
Check your running gait and footwear
Check your running clothing
1. Make it Gradual
As you wouldn't suddenly increase your mileage from 10K to half marathon or from half marathon to full marathon, don't go straight out and run too far and too hard too soon. Test the water. Perhaps use a beginner's training programme to build up slowly and steadily.
2. Do some Strength Training
Strength-training can complement your running and ensure that your body is able to meet the running demands made of it. Lift some light weights, do some press-ups, do some pilates exercises.
3. Increase your Flexibility
Make sure you stretch and flex your muscles. If you start running again and don't incorporate stretching into your routine you may find that your muscles become extremely tight and then prone to injury.
Cross-training can help your all-round fitness and can make your training fun. Consider joining a gym, swim, cycle, play a team sport such as tennis or badminton. If you keep your training fun you are more likely to stick to it.
5. Check your Gait and Footwear
If you have never had your running gait assessed or have not had it assessed since before your break from running, it is a good idea to have a reassessment to make sure your running shoes will be suitable. Running gait can change over time, e.g. with a change in weight, after giving birth. Check if your shoes need renewing at a specialist running shop. Both cushioning and support can be affected over time, even when the shoes are not in use.
6. Check your running clothing
Check your running wardrobe to see if your clothing is still fit for purpose. Have you got appropriate clothing for the weather, be it rainy, sunny, snowy? Ladies, please check your sports bras and make sure they are still effective, or buy new. It is essential to have proper support.
7. Remember hydration
Don't forget to ensure you are properly hydrated, before, during and after running. Proper hydration is essential to your health and can make a world of difference to your performance. Use electrolyte powders or tablets in hot weather to make sure your body absorbs enough of the water you take in. In hot weather don't forget a cap to protect your head.
8. Keep inspired
In order to sustain your running after getting back to it, try to keep inspired in different ways. One of the best ways is to run with a friend sometimes. You could consider joining a local running club. You could sign up for a 5K, perhaps your local Park Run. When you've done that, sign up for another one or for a 10K, but make sure you build up your training gradually.
Enjoy your running again and reap all the rewards, inner and outer, it can give you.