A fellow blogger and runner friend recently said to me(in fact taunted me, to be precise), when she heard that I am not running and putting on weight, that she hates being friends with people who are lazy FARTS! Well, I am thankful to her for this kick in the butt, theoretically. I started running the next day and a few days later reactivated my sleeping blog. That’s the first step to get the motivation to start running again. A kick in the butt from someone.
The year has started late for some people like me who have started training after a gap of almost 3 months and is dreaming big of running two 100 kms this year. So you had been running religiously for some time and suddenly LIFE HAPPENED! You have stopped running or doing any other form of exercise. Few months have passed by. Now the opportunity to run again knocks your door. You start with lots of enthusiasm and fervor and BANG, injury strikes!
Sounds familiar? LIFE HAPPENED can be injury, heavy load of office work, travel, pregnancy, visitors or kids exams or any other issue. Running takes a back seat when LIFE HAPPENS and it should because other things are as much important. But then it should be your endeavor to sort out all the kinks and get back to running ASAP! But, sometimes we don’t plan out the comeback and get injured. The whole issue of making a comeback is to avoid an injury.
So, what is the way out? The body has some amazing muscle memory and it remembers equally faster as it forgets. I have too got back to my training and had believed that I will be faster and stronger in no time. I am following a 10 step path which I would like to share with you. Hope it helps.
1. Start conservatively
When just starting out again after a break, take it slow. Start with a walk or walk-run routine. Your body will tell you itself if it is comfortable to run. I do the walk-run routine. Walk for 300-400 metre and then run for 100-200 metre. Gradually with passing days you will increase the run time and minimise the walk. Just don’t rush the process. It is not worth getting an injury in order to hurry up. In case you have been active during the lay off period, your comeback will be much faster.
The muscles start losing their strength after only a few days of inactivity. Running again after a break puts a lot of stress on the body. It is a good idea to start lifting light weights(to start with) or body weight excercises to strengthen the weak tissues and muscles which aids in running. Yes, the DOMS(Delayed Onset of Muscle Soreness) will cause some discomfort but brave it for a couple of days. Basic weight training/ body weight exercises moves can be-
- Bench Press.
- Dumbell/ barbell rows.
- Push ups.
- Pull ups.
- Chair dips.
Remember the good old days of dynamic stretching/warm up and cooling down. The muscles are under stress now and giving them a nice deep stretch before and after run helps in faster recovery and prevent injuries. Here is a small tip. In case you have just 30 minutes or 40 minutes of workout time, don’t think that you can run for 25 minutes or 35 minutes respectively. Give adequate time to warm up and cool down and some strengthening. The balance time is the time to run. If you don’t follow that then you maybe inviting an injury.
Patience is the virtue of making a comeback. In case we start rushing or start looking for a short cut to get fit, it will lead to an injury. Remember there are no short cuts to getting fit and start running. You have to slog it out. Take one day at a time and be grateful for what you have. You have the opportunity, the chance to run! Don’t loose that by taking a short cut. Make a training plan to become fit gradually and follow it. In case, on someday you feel overwhelmed, take it easy.
5. Eat well and drink
I know that once you have stopped running, you are eating all kind of junk food. At least I do it, thinking that once I again start running, I will get back to eating healthy food. So, now that you are coming back to running, start eating lot of veggies, fruits and other healthy foods because they will aid in the recovery process. The faster you recover from workouts, the faster will be the comeback. And yes, don’t forget to drink ample amount of water to keep you hydrated. It’s summers now. You may also read this article I wrote some time back in which I have given a diet plan to get back in shape/lose weight in 3 weeks.
6. Be active throughout the day
Being active means parking the car at the farthest corner of the parking lot, climbing the stairs, going to the park with kids, taking a leisure stroll in the evening with the spouse. Running after a break will lead to DOMS and the sure shot way of overcoming that is to stay active throughout the day. It acts as a recovery tool. Yes, being active also means not sitting down on a chair for long. Take walking breaks or just stand. Sitting is the new cancer!
7. Cross train
Cross training is a very good way to recover from the running workouts. It gives a break to the muscles used in running and strengthens the surrounding muscles, making you a stronger athlete and less prone to injuries. The above mentioned point is also in someways a part of cross training. But make sure that cross training doesn’t take too much out of you so that the next day of running isn’t fun. Keep it sorts of leisure activity.
8. Join a group/ workout partner
Running partner or joining a running group is essential because they truly understand the nuances of getting back to running after a break and also encourages you to gain back the lost fitness. To read more about the benefits of training partner, read this article I wrote some time back. It’s still applicable.
9. Sign up for a race 6 months in advance
This is to motivate yourself when everything else fails. Signing up for a race triggers a stress reaction of a positive kind to push yourself to get back to running. I do it all the time. The reason I give myself 6 months is that I don’t want to hurry myself up and get injured in the process. I am very wary of the injuries. They are lurking just around the corner. And I suggest get public with your decision. It helps! Like I did when I wrote a post about my this years’ lofty plans of running two 100 km races to qualify for UTMB 2018.
10. Keep a traininig log
Anton Krupica in an interview told that he has kept detailed training log since his high school running days and still maintains them. It helps him track his workouts and point out mistakes in case he gets injured in future and then correct his training accordingly. The journal is helpful to beat Overtraining. If you are vigilant enough you will be able to point out when you have gone overboard with the running. Nowadays there are many online trackers but I am an old school thinker of writing everything down in a diary.
In case you keep these simple tips in mind, my best guess is that you will make a comeback without an issues.
BONUS TIP : Visualise – Remember you have done it once, and you can do it again. It’s all in the mind! Visualise yourself back to the same or better state of fitness. It will be a big motivating factor for you. Watch some motivational fitness documentaries/ movies and inspire yourself. Look at your own old photographs for motivation.
Till then stay fit and keep running.
Did I miss out anything? Do let me know!
What routine do you follow once you have a break? Share it for the good of all.