Taking a short (or long) hiatus from exercise is sometimes unavoidable when life gets in the way. It’s very important, however, to make sure you get back into it. But, returning to running after a break or even starting from scratch can be a tough ask.
It’s important to remember to be patient. Your body needs time to adjust to the physical demands you’re now placing on it. As well as patience, keep these things in mind.
UNDERSTAND WHERE YOUR BODY IS AT
There are a few things you need to consider when working out what your ‘starting’ fitness level is. Firstly, you need to think how long it’s been since you last trained. You can generally expect to spend at least two days getting back in shape for every day lost. The other thing to keep in mind is forgetting the past! If you’re returning to training after a year off, you can’t just knock out a 20km run straight off the bat. Workouts done years ago have no relevance to what you can do today. By pushing yourself straight away, you’re putting yourself at risk of injury.
That said, another important rule is that the longer you have been training, the quicker it will be to get back into the swing of things. The longer you’ve been running, the higher your level of mitochondria (energy factories in your cells), the more red blood cells you’ll have to deliver oxygen to the running muscles and the bigger your foundation of aerobic strength.
GIVE YOURSELF A GOAL
The best way to get back into the swing of things is to set yourself a goal. It may be as simple as completing your first run. Ask yourself why you want to get back into running? To compete in an event? To get in shape? It’s important to plan your training to make the goal achievable.
TRY WALKING BEFORE YOU RUN
Before you start jogging, you should be able to walk for atleast 45 minutes. By walking, you’ll help to recondition your soft tissue – i.e. muscles, tendons, ligaments etc, which will help to prepare them for the tougher demands of running.
Strength training is extremely important to prepare your body for training, and in particular, running. It’s best to focus on your core, so do a range of ab exercises and leg exercises (squats etc) to build your muscle groups without the impact. Plus, doing this before you start running will help get your cardio kick started.
Working out every day will help speed up your cardiovascular fitness, but you don’t necessarily have to run every day. In between running sessions, add two or three days of cross training in between. A mix of cycling, swimming, yoga, pilates or weight training will help you get stronger. The only exception to this is if you have just started training (i.e. have never run before). You’ll need to take rest days in between running, rather than doing more physical activity.