How I’m getting back running after a break

Getting back running after a break can be a challenge. After 18 months away from running I’m finding it hard to get back to my previous fitness level. But I have made a start. And there has been some progress. Here’s an update on what I’ve been doing and some tips that might help you.

In December of last year, I was in the worst shape of my life. I was juggling a full-time job, 300-mile weekly commute, master’s degree studies, family commitments, looking after my horses, running and writing. I was exhausted and because I’d not been exercising as much as I usually would, I was also weak. The weakness led to injury, a very painful runner’s knee injury.

I felt terrible, just walking up the stairs was a struggle. Instead of feeling fit and strong, I was weak and frail. For the first time, I felt my age.

Fitness has always been important to me and I felt sorry for myself and a little cross at what I’d allowed to happen. This was made worse because my fortieth birthday was rapidly approaching. And there was no way I was turning 40 and not being fit.

So, I changed my job, which meant I had more time to run, and the fitness comeback began. Here are my tips for getting back running after a break.

Stay positive and start again
I decided that rather than feeling down about my loss of fitness I’d do something about it. Instead of comparing all my runs to what I used to be able to do, I pressed reset, judging my fitness on where I am now and nothing else. This is much more positive because it’s easy to see the progress.

Take a new approach to training
With my body in such a state I quickly realised that I’d need a new approach to my training. Rather than focusing just on running, I tried to get more of a balance of the components of fitness, including flexibility, strength and cardio. I incorporated spinning, Pilates, and strength and conditioning into my weekly routine.

Embrace strength and conditioning
It’s all about the strength work, especially as we age. Getting stronger can also help with running. Here are seven strength exercises I’ve been doing regularly. At the moment, strength is more important to me than running speed. I’m doing more strength work, and fewer runs.

Set a goal
Having a goal is important because it helps with motivation. I ran a 10k in February to gauge my current fitness levels. I’m racing another in a few weeks. Hopefully, I will be able to see some progress.

Listen to your body and adapt your training
I found it hard mentally and physically to return to my previous intensity of training. I just didn’t feel ready for it. So, I adapted my training. And slowly, I began to feel ready for the harder sessions.

Choose a race series
I signed up to two race series. One takes place monthly throughout the summer, the other is every season. I’m hoping both will help to track my improvement. They’re local races and they’re always good fun with a lovely atmosphere.

Take your time and enjoy the process
I was happy to be back running and accepted that fitness gains take time. So, I’m taking my time, training sensibly, and enjoying the process of getting fit again.

Do you have a top tip for getting back running and returning to fitness after a break?

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