Ranjini Gupta talks about how you can make a comeback into running after taking a long break.
As a newbie to running, one generally makes quick progress. A couple of months down the line, if you put in the required practise, every race could get you a PB. However, there comes a time for many of us where we are forced to take a break-it could be a family or work-related demand or you get burned out or loss of motivation or a neglected niggle which is now a full-blown injury. So, what happens now?
Taking a break by choice, you still cope but when you are sidelined by an injury and that too when the going is good, it is not the best place to be in. We go through the Cycle of Acceptance:
Making a comeback to running, post a break, could be a daunting task. It’s not only physically challenging, but it is also mentally challenging too. Many a time the mind knows that you have been there and done that so it wants to ‘hit the ground running’ but the body is unable to cope due to the decrease in blood volume and mitochondria. During the break, the muscles, ligaments, tendons and connective tissues would have got deconditioned. However, the longer you have been consistent with your training before the break, the quicker you will be able to get back into it.
Here is a general overview (remember the 10% rule):
1 week or less – Go back to your normal routine right away
Up to10 days – Run 70% of your previous mileage
15 to 30 days – Run 60% of your previous mileage
30 days to 3 months – Run 50% of your previous mileage
3 months – Start from scratch
Some pointers which I would like to share are:
- Take it one day at a time: Start out with slow, shorter distance runs and work your way up. During these runs gauge how the body is feeling and responding. The key here is to lace up and show up….in other words ‘Be consistent’. Doesn’t mean you need to log runs every day. See how many runs you are able to log in a week. Journal your runs and if your break was due to an injury, please keep your coach and physical therapist in the feedback loop. This becomes important because only then can they work with you on progressing with your rehabilitation program.
- Be a new version on yourself: Your mind can play a lot of games during this phase. It can constantly remind you that you used to do faster paces and higher mileage. You may even have people walk up to you and lure you by making similar comparisons to your PB performances. Here you will have to learn to go easy and not make comparisons with the runner you once used to be. You need to understand your body. You need to work with what works best for you and stay the course.
- Run with a partner who understands you: Sometimes running alone can be hard and boring. It’s good to find a friend or a running partner who understands your running journey, who can pitch in and run with you. Mix up the locations and timings of your runs to break the monotony.
- Be mindful of your eating habits: Diet plays a big role in any athletes’ life. Being consistent with a balanced diet will act as a catalyst in getting you fitter sooner.
- Strength train: Personally, for me, this is a huge factor. What you learn and do during your rehabilitation program needs to be built on. You need to progress with the strength and conditioning so as to make your body stronger to handle the higher volumes of running in the days to come. If your break was due to an injury, use it to understand the biomechanics of your body and work on those weak spots. Adding cross-training to your routine aids in active recovery while getting you stronger at the same time.
- Be Positive and Practice the attitude of gratitude: For every kilometre or mile, you run, be grateful. Remember there was a time when even that was not possible.
“Sometimes you will have to stop worrying and have the faith that things will work out”.