So, you’ve been off from running for some time. Probably feels like too long, way too long, right? Whether due to injury, illness, or burnout, getting back on the road can feel daunting, if not absolutely impossible.
What is interesting for myself as a runner that has had his share of forced time away from training, my brain tosses between excitement to get back out there, and feelings of anxiety. I suspect that most of the anxiety I experience has to do with performance, but that is yet to be determined.
The Strategic Approach to Starting Back
I have learned that getting back out on the road is simply a matter of strategy. The more clear I set-up my restart plan, the lower my anxiety. The trick is to harness those periodic blips of excitement…with a plan, that is. What do I suggest?
- Wait Until You Are Ready: Your body is telling you something – It is time to listen! I get it! limitations suck! Challenge those limitations without mindfulness, and you will be out longer each time after injury or illness.
- Plot Your Distance: Ease back into your training. Be strategic. Plot your base, and add no more than 10% total distance each week. Fail to do this, and you will be forced to extend your time away.
- Cross-Train: Cross-training, both during time away and leading back into your regular 3-5 day a week running habit, is highly advisable. It is an opportunity to focus on your core, your best friend on those extended long run efforts.
- Limit Hard Efforts: Save your tempo running sessions for at least three weeks after you get started again. Pushing too hard early on will send you into a cycle of relapse.
- Sign-Up For A Short Race: You have been back in the game now for a couple of weeks. You are feeling good, in fact, really good, while sticking to your plan. Sign-up for a 5k or 10k local event. Be sure to focus on having fun and shoot for that personal best (PB) another time.
We have to respect forced breaks from our training schedule. Whether due to injury, illness, or burnout, your body is telling you something. Accepting the limitations that the human body forces on us is never easy to accept. However, if you take a strategic approach to staring back, you will succeed.
Finally, time off the road is opportunity for prevention. Evaluate your personal situation and adopt a prevention focused attitude. You will no doubt be able to get your fitness back to the level it once was. With the proper prevention focus, you will be back to peak performance in no time at all.
Have Your Say
What are your personal strategies to getting back to running? Are there factors or elements that you think I missed? I look forward to your own ideas and feedback.