As I've mentioned before, I’m a big runner—at least I was until I injured my foot during last year’s NYC marathon. Six months later and finally healed, despite the fact that I hadn’t run a step—not even a sprint to make a subway train—I signed up for a half marathon (which I ran last Sunday). My thinking: A race would surely get me back on track.
Each training run was a blow to my ego, though. I was considerably slower, and I couldn’t even make it through a run without stopping. I felt like a newbie, rather than someone who had been running for a solid six years.
As you can imagine, my half marathon wasn’t stellar. I knew I wouldn’t run a personal best, but I surely didn’t think I’d be 17 MINUTES SLOWER than my fastest time. The lesson here: There is no easy way to get back into running shape.
Struggling to find your footing again? Here, three tips from Jonathan Cane, President of City Coach MultiSport, a full-service coaching resource for runners, cyclists, and triathletes in New York City, on how to ease back into running.
Take it slow
Be conservative on your first couple of runs. Being overly aggressive can put you right back on the injured list. “Your first run out is not about revving your engine and seeing how fast you can go, it is just a test,” says Cane. “You want to finish feeling like you can do more.” Also, consider doing your first run on the treadmill. This way, if you aren’t feeling so hot, you aren’t stuck out on the middle of a random running path.
You aren’t going to lace up your sneaks on day one and be at the top of your game. You have to manage your expectations or you’ll just frustrate yourself. “It didn’t take you a day to lose your fitness, and it won’t take you a day to regain it,” says Cane. “You can’t just put a couple of hard workouts in and think that you are going to be rocking again.” Don’t worry, though, your old running self will return, you just need to know it will take some time—typically about as long as your downtime.
Keep a (running) diary
A log will help you recognize patterns that may lead you back down the path to pain. “It allows you to play detective,” say Cane. “It keeps you in tune with your body and what your training has been, and can help you avoid future injuries.” It doesn’t have to be incredibly detailed either, just the basics: miles, distance, terrain, shoe type and general feelings about the run.