If you’re like most runners, you’ve no doubt found yourself needing to take some time off from running. Whether it’s due to an injury, illness, pregnancy, or just low motivation – a long break from running is inevitable at some point. Being forced to take a hiatus from running is discouraging enough as it is, but when you throw in a slow return after lost fitness, maintaining motivation can be tough.
Attempting to stay upbeat while noticing the fitness you’ve lost after a long break from running is easier said than done. Despite the challenges, most runners find themselves eager to get back to running after a layoff, and hopeful that they will get their running groove back.
No matter how much fitness you’ve lost, there are some ways to get back to running easily, and speed up the process of making a running comeback.
Getting your running groove back may seem impossible at first, but with a little perseverance it can be done. These 7 tips will help you get your running groove back in no time, and start running again with excitement.
7 Ways to Get Your Running Groove Back
- Create a plan. Maybe you’ve taken a long break from your training plan to recover from an injury, or maybe you’ve taken a hiatus from running after losing motivation. Whatever the case, you’ll need to create a plan to get back to running. Start small, with just a few days of running per week, or a familiar base mileage from previous recovery weeks. Determine what days you will run each week, where you will run, and what time of day your runs will take place. Taking the time to plan ahead and set a schedule will help you stay consistent as you return to running.
Wanting to start a training plan? Check out my FREE training plans here.
- Run somewhere new. There’s nothing quite as discouraging as experiencing a burst of new motivation, only to have it disappear when you return to running in the same, boring places. Whether you drive to a brand new trail or just run your neighborhood loop in reverse, find some way to change up your route. Small changes can make a big difference. Avoid monotony by mixing up your paths as you start running again.
- Sign up for a race. Nothing is more motivating than spending your hard earned cash to register for a race. Even if it’s just a local 5k, the act of signing up for a race will help you stay committed. Paying for a race forces you to stay consistent with your training, and helps you remain motivated knowing that quitting now comes at a cost. Not to mention the exciting atmosphere of a race – feeding off the excitement from other runners will help make the beginning of your return to running more enjoyable.
- Eat to run. Eating foods that make you feel sluggish (or just not eating enough) will make your running comeback feel miserable. Spend some time evaluating your current meals and snacks, and making the necessary changes to ensure you are properly fueled to run. Try out different smoothie recipes, protein balls, or healthy pastas to fuel your run. Keep experimenting until you find something your body loves – it will be worth it.
- Create a reward. Find some way to reward yourself for all of your hard work and improvements. It could be signing up for a destination race, indulging in an evening bowl of ice cream after your long run, buying those new jeans, or planning a trip away with your significant other. Finding something that motivates you will encourage you to stay consistent with your efforts until you get your running groove back.
- Set micro goals. All the excitement you feel when setting a massive goal can quickly be forgotten when you find yourself working hard during week one, yet still feeling like this goal is way out of reach. Break your end goals down into micro goals. Your return to running won’t begin with a marathon after 5 days of training, so set manageable goals each week to help you get there. Start out by increasing your long run mileage by just 1-2 miles, or running for 10 minutes longer than usual on Tuesday. Achieving these micro goals will help keep you motivated and optimistic.
Check out a great way to set running goals here!
- Cross train to increase your fitness. Unfortunately, returning to running after a hiatus won’t involve only running (no matter how excited you feel). More often than not, getting back to running involves just a few days of running and more days spent working out at home or in the gym. The beginning of a running comeback often feels slow, as you realize that your fitness is not what it used to be before your long break from running. Speed up your comeback by spending those off days cross training to build fitness.
Related: 14 Workouts Runners Will Love
Running is a lifelong sport. The fact that it is lifelong means there will be times where life gets in the way and forces us off our feet (often when we least want it to). These times are inevitable, so learning not to fight them and to make the best of them is essential to maintaining a lifelong relationship with running. If you’re ready to get back to running after a long layoff, remember that recovery is a marathon, not a sprint.
Enjoy the process, and take your time with your return to running. Before long you’ll have your running groove back and be setting new PRs and nailing your goals.
Here are some tips to help you start running again:
- How to Make a Running Comeback After Taking Time Off
- Tips to Safely Increase Your Mileage
- Should You Skip a Run? Here’s What You Need to Know
- 36 Essential Resources for Runners