Whether you are coming back to running from time out due to an injury or are completely new to running, I recommend starting out the exact same way.
Here are my top 3 tips.
Implement good habits from day 1
My number one good habit for runners is always, always, always do a warm-up and cool-down. I tell my clients to think of a run in 3 parts, the warm-up, the run, and the cool-down. The run isn’t complete if one of these parts isn’t done. The warm-up and cool-down are not there to take time away from your run or delaying you from jumping into the shower, they have a purpose, and that purpose is to get your body ready for exercising or starting the recovery process. Skipping either of these may lead to injury; so it’s super important to get into the habit of doing these before and after every single run.
Take it slow
For the first 10 weeks, whether you are new to running or coming back from an injury, you are creating your foundation. During this time you are taking it s-l-o-w; running a nice comfortable pace for all of your runs. While building your base, I especially encourage running intervals, so for example, running 1 minute, walking 1 minute for 10 sets. Slowly building up the distance and not pushing your body hard during this phase.
Running intervals is highly recommended for a new runner, but I know that it will be difficult for an existing runner to come back from an injury and ‘start from the beginning again’. But this is a vital step to coming back from an injury. Just because you could run continuously pre-injury, it’s likely you’ve now lost some conditioning from your forced running break, and need to ease your body back into it. Plus, you don’t want to re-injure yourself by doing too much too soon!
Listen to your body
This is so important. When you get an ache or pain it’s because something isn’t right, it doesn’t mean to keep going! My general rule is if the ache or pain hasn’t gone away after 5-10 seconds to stop your run and do some gentle stretches. After stretching, ask yourself ‘how does it feel?’, and be honest here. If it’s still uncomfortable then try walking for a little, and if the pain goes away then resume running with caution. If the discomfort is still there after the walking break, then call time on your run – do not run through the pain. There will be plenty of other opportunities to run, so your main focus/priority at this time is to get your body feeling better. Head home where you can do more stretching, foam roll, apply an ice pack, compression, and consider seeing a medical professional.
If you are completely new to running, check out these two blogs on how to find the perfect running shoe and the gear you’ll need to get started.
If you are coming back from an injury, here is an extra blog post that you might enjoy – it’s the 5 strategies for coming back from an injury.
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