Since I started running again, after taking a very lengthy break, I have been asked several times how do I do it. How do I log so many miles? How have I run as many races as I have? How did I start over again?
To be honest with you, the first two I truly don't have an answer for. All I know is that I am stubborn as all hell and have a very high pain tolerance. Everyone who knows me personally can attest to the stubborn part.
It's the starting over again that I can give an answer too. After shoulder surgery and a motorcycle accident sidelined me for a very long time. I not only had to fight my fears of running again, due to the injuries, but I also to fight the fact that I was not going to be in the same shape or at the same level of physical fitness I was at prior to everything happening.
Here are my tips for getting back out on the road after a long break.
Throw out any of the ideas you once had about what your physical fitness levels were.
After a long break, or not having ever really been a runner, you cannot rely on the memories of whom or what you once were. Many of us have not run since High School, which in my case would have been a very long time ago. So to attempt to focus on that, for me, would be a crushing blow to my motivation. The constant reminder would only keep you from getting to where you can and will be. Remember that when starting over again every step taken is a step closer to a new and better you.
Find a way to hold yourself accountable.
Some ways you can accomplish this is by signing up for a run several months out. The fixed date will force you to have to train, or you will end up dealing with a good amount of pain on race day. Attempt to get family and/or friend to run and train with you. Starting out doing it alone can be very daunting. Not only will it help motivate you, on days that you are feeling down, those family member an/or friends can be what forces you to get out for whatever you need to do. You can even rely on technology by logging your runs with apps like Run keeper or Map My Run. They both have reminder notifications built into them. This will help by sending you a notification or message as a reminder that you need to run.
Make yourself an attainable goal.
I personally feel that if you put your heart and mind into something you can and will achieve any goal you set for yourself. With that said don't be foolish! Don’t plan to run your first marathon with less than a couple months of training. You'll set yourself up for a world of hurt. Use a pre- scheduled race, set yourself a distance you would like to be able to run, or set a specific amount of time that you would be like to be able to run continuously. No matter what your goal is, the work put forth to get there will put you far beyond where you once were.
Now that you have gotten yourself mentally prepared to start all over, which I truly believe is the hardest part. Lace up your shoes and get ready for you very first run!
For the first couple weeks I suggest using one of two options if you do not using a training program.
Run/Walk for up to 10 to 20 Minutes.
Run for up to 2 minutes straight at whatever speed is comfortable and then walk for 2 minutes. Alternate this routine until you hit your 20 minute mark. Upon achieving that goal you can add more time or increase your pace to fulfill you desired fitness level.
Run till you get tiered in one direction and then walk back.
With this idea you set an object of in the distance and jog to it. Start running, at whatever pace is comfortable, until you either cannot run any longer or till you reach your destination. At that point turn around and walk back. After awhile you pick a point further out as you are not only able to reach your destination, but you can reach it and run all the way back to your starting point.
I suggest starting off doing these three times a week in the beginning. With both methods you slowly increase your time and distance as your fitness level increases. It may be slow, but it will allow for your body to slowly adjust to the impact forces and strain that your body will endure.
Cross Training "Not Cross Fit, please don't get these confused."
Cross training on days you don't run:
go for a walk
Doing these things will allow you to focus on other muscle groups, while still improving your cardiovascular health and minimizing impact forces to your legs.
Again these are just my suggestions on how to get you back into running again. It has proven for me, and several I have helped train, to provide efficient results and aid in avoiding injury in the building process. Any additional questions please don't hesitate to ask in the comments section below. Find me on Facebook at Running Joe.