Bounce back with a smile: 5 tips for a safe and enjoyable return to running
Returning to running after a prolonged break can be both challenging and exhilarating. Whether life's demands, injuries, or other factors caused your hiatus, getting back into the groove requires a strategic approach. In this article, our friends at Squareco explore five valuable tips to help you ease back into running and reignite your fitness.
Set realistic goals
Just like a marathon, your return to running should be approached at a steady pace. The key is to ease back into your routine gradually, allowing your body to adapt and rebuild strength. Think of it as a reunion with an old friend — take it slow, catch up on the latest gossip, and enjoy the process. Begin with a mix of walking and jogging, gradually increasing the running time as your body responds positively.
Remember, 'Rome wasn't built in a day', and neither will your running progress. Start gradually to avoid overwhelming your body and risking injury. Begin by setting small, achievable goals, such as running for a specific distance or duration, or incorporating running intervals into your workouts. As you build your stamina and confidence, gradually increase your mileage and pace over time. By setting attainable goals, you'll maintain motivation and prevent burnout.
Discipline over motivation
Consistency is the key to re-establishing a running routine. Commit to a regular schedule and make it a priority to stick to it as closely as possible. Whether you choose to run in the mornings, evenings, or during lunch breaks, finding a time that works best for you and sticking to it will help make running a habit. A good start is your local Parkrun held every Saturday. Consistency allows your body to adapt and build endurance gradually.
Additionally, consider incorporating cross-training activities on non-running days to maintain overall fitness and reduce the risk of overuse injuries. While running may be your true passion, incorporating cross-training activities into your regimen can work wonders for your overall fitness and injury prevention. Activities like swimming, cycling, yoga, or strength training help build a well-rounded athlete, improving muscle balance, flexibility, and core strength. Think of it as expanding your social circle — making new friends who can support you on your running journey. By nurturing a strong foundation, you'll minimise the risk of future injuries and optimise your running performance.
The correct running attire is also not to be understated. Not just footwear, but shorts or leggings in the appropriate season will help keep you cool or warm and make the run more enjoyable in our unpredictable climate.
Listen to your body
Returning to running after a long break requires you to be attentive to your body's signals. Your body is an incredible orchestra, with each part playing a vital role in your running performance. Pay attention to its subtle cues, and you'll avoid the cacophony of injury. If you experience persistent pain, discomfort, or unusual fatigue, don't ignore it. If you experience any unusual or concerning pain, it's important to listen to your body and take appropriate action. Rest, apply ice, or consider consulting a healthcare professional to assess any potential injuries or imbalances. Remember, it's better to address minor issues early on to prevent them from developing into major setbacks.
Gradually increase intensity
When resuming running, it's natural to feel the urge to push yourself too hard too soon. However, it's important to resist this temptation and focus on gradually increasing the intensity of your workouts. Instead of solely focusing on speed, prioritise building stamina and endurance. Incorporate interval training into your running routine, where you alternate between running and walking or slow jogging. This method allows you to improve your cardiovascular fitness without overtaxing your body. Begin with shorter intervals and gradually increase the duration and intensity as your fitness level progresses. By gradually increasing the intensity, you'll minimise the risk of injuries and allow your body to adapt to the demands of running.
Embrace rest and recovery
In the pursuit of rekindling your running routine, it's crucial not to overlook the importance of rest and recovery. Taking adequate time to recover allows your body to repair and strengthen itself. Include rest days in your training plan to prevent overtraining and reduce the risk of injuries. During rest days, engage in activities that promote relaxation and rejuvenation, such as stretching, yoga, or meditation.
Additionally, prioritise proper nutrition and sleep to support your body's recovery process. A balanced diet, rich in nutrients, and sufficient sleep will provide the energy and resources needed for your body to rebuild and prepare for your next run.
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Rekindling your love for running after a long break is an exciting endeavour that requires patience, determination, and a strategic approach. By following these five essential tips - setting realistic goals, discipline over motivation, listening to your body, gradually increasing intensity, and embracing rest and recovery - you can make a successful comeback and rediscover the joy of running.
Remember, it's important to give yourself permission to start small and progress gradually. Embrace the process and celebrate each milestone along the way. Be kind to yourself and acknowledge that it's normal to experience challenges and setbacks.
By setting realistic goals, you'll avoid unnecessary pressure and allow yourself to enjoy the journey. Lace-up your shoes, hit the pavement, and relish the exhilarating feeling of reclaiming your running routine once again.
Before you start, you may need some new kit to begin with. Squareco is a sustainable sportswear store that stocks innovative products from leading and independent brands, so you can have confidence in the sportswear you own. Your running journey awaits!
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