When it comes time to lace up your sneakers once again, no matter how enthusiastic you are about hitting the pavement, you’ll face an uphill battle after taking some time away from running. Even with the best morale, starting a new training routine can be hard, sometimes downright miserable. I’m in the midst of re-establishing a running routine myself, and there are a few things I’ve learned about how to make forming a new running routine more bearable.
If you’ve taken some time away from running (or an extended time away in my case), ease back into it both in mileage and in pace. If you ran a 10-minute mile in a 5K three months ago and haven’t done much since then, don’t expect to pick up right where you left off.
Manage your expectations by keeping a slow and steady running pace, and keep your routes and weekly mileage fairly low the first few weeks. Distance and weekly mileage will be subject to your previous running history and fitness level, but piling on the mileage early in your training won’t do you much benefit. In fact, adding mileage too quickly can actually increase your risk of injury.
Also remember to stretch after your first few workouts. You’ll probably be sore the first few days, so listen to your body and don’t do too much too soon. Epsom salt baths and ibuprofen will be your friends.
Get into the habit.
It’s not breaking news that the first few weeks will be the hardest. It will be even harder if you decide to start running again in the middle of summer in Florida. (Trust me when I say it’s not fun.) We’ve all heard it takes 21 days to form a habit, and while you don’t need to run for 21 days in a row, the first few weeks will be vital to cementing that new routine. It won’t be easy to get out of bed earlier or hit the pavement after a long day at work, but eventually it will feel like second nature.
Hold yourself accountable.
While you’re busy forming that routine, create ways to hold yourself accountable. Find a running buddy, set virtual training dates with friends (text each other before you’re both set to run so you hold each other accountable), or tell everyone about your new training plans. You’d be surprised how motivated you can get if you know that people are counting on you.
The most important tip is to remember why you are running again and make it fun! If it feels like a chore, you’ll be less likely to stick with it. Whatever your reason, whether to feel better about yourself, cross your first finish line, or raise money for charity, remember that we all have to start somewhere — and that start is usually filled with some crappy, humbling workouts.