Getting back into running after a break or injury can be a challenging and daunting task. However, with the right approach, it can be a rewarding experience that leads to improved health, fitness, and overall well-being.
In this blog, we’ll explore some common injuries and issues that runners face when returning to running, as well as key considerations, exercises, and tips to help prevent injuries, improve running performance, and stay motivated and accountable.
Common injuries or issues when getting back into running
The main problem that runners face when getting back into running after a break is overload injuries.
Many runners try to resume their running at the same volume or pace as before, which is a big risk factor for overtraining injuries.
To prevent this, it’s best to take a slow and progressive approach when returning to run volume.
Key considerations for restarting your running journey
When starting to run again after a break or injury, it’s important to use all the data you have to formulate a program to return.
If you have access to heart rate data, make sure you are using heart rate zones. Work backwards and use your previous pace and distance data to formulate a program to gradually restore your running abilities.
Start at an intensity or volume that was equivalent to your previous “recovery” week, as long as your break from when you last ran wasn’t too long!
Exercises or stretches to prevent injuries and improve performance
Mobility and strength work for runners is key. Anterior hip mobility exercises are crucial. These exercises include:
- Couch stretch (hip flexor/ quads)
- Quads stretch (try out a foam roller too)
- Gastrocnemius and soleus stretch
- Glute stretch (pigeon or modified pigeon)
Strength work includes exercises like:
- Gastrocnemius and soleus strength (think in runner’s position)
- Seated calf raise and standing calf raise
- Hip thrust (single leg variation is great as well)
- Split squat
Improving running form to prevent injury and improve speed and endurance
Using running-specific drills can help encourage you to get or maintain specific positions that we want our bodies to achieve when running. Some of these drills include A runs, C runs, A skip, Load and lift, etc.
These drills will help to teach a runner efficiency, especially towards the back end of a run when fatigue is prevalent, and form starts to reduce.
Gradually increasing distance and intensity to avoid injury and build endurance
As a very general rule, a 10% increase of the total volume of running from the previous week is used to help prescribe run volume and capacity.
It’s best to increase one variable per week, whether it’s speed or distance, to eliminate any changes in volume or overload injuries.
Importance of rest and recovery
Rest and recovery are just as important as a proper program.
Runners can use tools such as compression boots or massage chairs to aid in recovery, or foam rollers to help with any “tight” spots.
Cold baths or ice path protocol after heavy volume weeks can help relieve swelling and soreness in muscles post-exercise.
Balancing running goals with other fitness activities
Include some cross-training as part of a running routine. Runners can benefit from swimming or cycling as it still helps to improve cardiovascular endurance, without the impact of running on hard surfaces.
Strength work is also essential to ensure the muscles involved in running have adequate strength to maintain proper form for long endurance runs and prevent injuries.
Practical tips or tools to stay motivated and accountable
Keep things fun! Use these tips to help with motivation and accountability:
- Use a training platform like Training Peaks to keep logging training data,
- get a coach,
- train with a buddy, or
- join a local running group.
Want a tailored plan to return to running?
Returning to running after a break or injury requires a careful approach that includes:
- proper planning,
- a gradual increase in intensity and volume,
- exercises and stretches to prevent injuries and improve performance,
- rest and recovery, and
- balancing running goals with other fitness activities.
With these tips and tools, runners can safely and effectively get back into running and achieve their goals.
If you’d like help to create an exercise program which is tailored to you and what your body need to get you back to running at your best in the shortest time possible, book an appointment with North West Physio Newmarket today! Book here.