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Returning To Running After Time Off

You’ve been forced to be away from running for a period of time – maybe due to injury and maybe due to life. Either way, you haven’t run for several months.

The time has come for you to return to running. You’re excited to be able to get those shoes on and step out onto the road or trail for your first run in months. You feel great!  So happy to be out there. The body feels good. Everything flows well. You end up running three miles. It was a good test run. Now that you have that one under your belt, you start increasing the mileage. You are ready to get after it. You have a race in four weeks after all! 

And then it hits…Pain sets in. You’re frustrated. You’re confused. You’re scared!

You begin to wonder if you need to give up running because of all these injuries you keep getting. 

Most likely the answer is ‘No, you do not need to give up running.’ What you do need, though, is to return to running properly. Just because you could easily run however long you wanted prior to taking time off does not mean you can get right back to it as if nothing happened. As you return to running, especially after injury, it must be treated like the first time you start any new activity – start slow and work your way back into it. 

‘Too Much, Too Soon’ will get you injured nearly every time! 

What does a proper return to running program look like? It starts as a walk/run program. The walk/run program has several purposes: 1) to let your body remember what it feels like to run again, 2) to make sure the body is able to handle the activity, 3) to increase the stresses and forces on the body in a gradual manner. 

This run/walk period is essential to get the body adapted to the running motion again and more importantly, the forces that the body takes on when running. 

To give you an idea of what this looks like, the first week could look something like this: 

Week 1 
Training Day 1 Training Day 2 Training Day 3 
6 cycles:
Run :30
Walk 1:30 
6 cycles:
Run :30
Walk 1:30 
6 cycles:
Run 1:00
Walk 3:00 


From there, you are gradually increasing your distance and time in a safe manner. 

If you are coming off an injury or an extended time away from running due to life and are looking for a structure in order to decrease the risk of you from getting injured (or re-inured), pick up a structured Return To Running Program for yourself. 

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