Five key things to keep in mind when you start running after a break, writes Radhika Meganathan
Nothing distresses a runner more than a forced break, especially if it involves long periods of pain and boredom. And returning back to running after a break is tough to say the least, because you are aware of all the lost progress and mileage. While it may well be a tough and exasperating journey, it is entirely possible to return back to your former glory, provided you are aware of the following:
1.Before you return to the track: Make sure you strength train and improve your flexibility during the time between your recuperation and your actual return. Cross training during recuperation works in two ways – it helps in burning calories and maintaining minimum cardiovascular fitness. Work on your core, hamstrings, calf muscles and glutes as you wait for the day where you can experience runner’s high again.
2.Return only after clearance: There are four variables that affect your return to running after an Injury:
- The type of your injury
- The severity of your injury
- The time you took off, to recuperate
- The quality of the treatment of your injury (and how well you adhered to it!)
As you can see, it takes more than mere desire to return back to running; you actually need to be at the right point to be able to make it. There’s nothing worse than returning too early to practice, after an injury, because doing so will only set the path for more pain and loss. You MUST start your running routine only after explicit clearance from your medical professional
3.Get an expert’s opinion: As soon as you get your doctor’s clearance, should you head straight to the gym? No! If you are a serious runner (or if you had anything above a mild injury) you should ask for a physiotherapist’s opinion on what exercises to do during your time off. Use this break to focus on your weaknesses.
4.Don’t look at stats now: Runners are proud – rightfully so! – of their stats like mileage, speed and pacing. But when you are back from an injury, you have to temporarily forget these words. Do not aim for too much, too soon. A run/walk schedule at the beginning of your return week will gradually ease you into re-training after the injury.
5.Obey the rules: All your preparation will come to naught if you do not adhere to caution and rules as you start running again after an injury. The first few days of your return plan should simply aim to create consistency, assess any existing pain, and get your legs re-introduced to running. Here is a recommended ‘Return to Running’ plan:
- 1st week of return: 30 to 50% of your normal mileage
- 2nd week of return: 40 to 60% of your normal mileage
- 3rd week of return: 80% of your normal mileage
- 4th week of return: Your normal mileage. You can add in more challenging runs under supervision.
If you feel discomfort or pain at any point during the return week or first month, immediately stop and seek a consultation with either your trainer or the medical professional associated with your injury.
To be able to run even a mile after an injury is something to feel joy about, so look at the glass as half full, rather than feeling down about all the hard work ahead. More than anything, it’s the right attitude that will empower you to re-start the journey back to your old mileage.