How To Get Back To Running After A Break

Get Back To Running

There are pauses in running training: planned or unplanned, because of the lost desire to train or because of injury, because of a change in lifestyle and any other circumstances.

We will tell you what happens to the body during a break, how to properly get back to running system, and whether it is possible to take breaks with benefit.

What Happens To The Body Without Running

It doesn’t matter for what reason you left running – without sports, the body will begin to change. After a week without any training, even in a physically developed body, changes begin in the work of the heart and lungs, in the condition of the muscles, in the work of the hormonal system.

The heart will start pumping 10% less blood in one beat . You may notice this from your resting heart rate, which is slightly higher than it was during regular exercise.

The anaerobic threshold will fall – a high level of intensity that the body is able to maintain for a long time without a noticeable increase in the amount of lactate. You will feel this if you immediately switch to high-intensity exercises after the break.

Without running, the maximum oxygen consumption (VO2max) indicator decreases . If the break continues for the second and third week, then VO2max decreases from 4 to 15%.

This is also due to the changes that occur in the muscles – the network of capillaries, which was built during the training period, will degrade, and this will affect the access of oxygen to the tissues. By this time of the break, the volume of blood pumped by the heart will have already dropped to 20% compared to what it was during the training period.

And it is clear that the further running and sports are absent in the same volume, the further regression will go – what the runners call rollback among themselves. After a month without sports, the body’s capillary network will become what it was before training, and the volume of the heart will significantly decrease.

Changes in the hormonal system will make themselves felt when you get back to running – the body will produce more stress hormones under the same stress as before, and it will take longer to recover.

How To Get Back To Running

After a break, the body is not ready not only for training in the same volume, but even for some less intense loads.

The good news is that for those who trained regularly and for a long time before the break, it will be easier to return to running. But both trained and untrained should be drawn in gently, in small volumes and with low intensity.

Walk Intensively

If the break happened due to injury, then it is better to get back to running through walking. You need to walk for a duration of 45-60 minutes and not in a walking, but at an intense pace, at which the pulse should be somewhere in the region of 100 beats per minute.

The heart and muscles will begin to remember the load, and at the same time you can check if the pain remains after the injury. If not, you can enter running.

In the event that there was no injury, but the break turned out to be a long one, it is still better to alternate between jogging and walking.

For the first week of training after a break, try the beginner program:

  • 1 minute running
  • 2 minutes of intense walking

And so on for 30 minutes.

Next week, increase your running interval to 2 minutes with the same walking interval by 2 minutes. Then, focusing on how you feel, shorten the walking interval and remove it altogether, but feel free to take a step if you feel like it.

Build Up Volumes Gradually

If the break is not related to the injury or the injury was not serious, and there is no more pain, then you can immediately return to running at a low intensity, without intervals, slides and other things, and, of course, you will have to continue with smaller volumes.

If the break lasted more than 10 days, start with 70% of the previous volume. If from two weeks to a month – 50% of the previous volume. Two months – less than half of the previous volumes. If the break lasts more than three months, start from the very beginning (see paragraph above).

And most importantly – do not forget the 10% rule: you need to increase the volume gradually, every new week + 10% of the previous one. For example, if you ran 20 km in a week, then run 22 km the next. On the next one – 24-25 km, etc.

Plan A New Running Season

Try to analyze the moment when you had to take a break from running. If it is not related to life circumstances, then the problem is most likely too large, or excessively high intensity, or insufficient recovery, or improper technique.

In order to properly distribute the load after the break and not step on the same rake, it is better to find a running coach who will conduct training with you, or at least draw up a training program with him.

Add Power and SBU

Strength training will help you avoid future injuries, increase strength and explosive endurance, and develop muscles that work in running. And add variety to your workouts.

  • It’s best to have strength training for runners as part of your training and as part of your training plan.
  • Strength training should be repeated 2-3 times a week and take at least 30-40 minutes of time.
  • Strength training can be carried out in the gym on simulators, with resistance bands and elastic bands, and with your own weight. If you have weights, focus on low weights and high reps.
  • If you’re unsure where to start, check out our podcast on strength training for runners.
  • Special running exercises are the runner’s lifesaver; they will help hone technique, develop coordination of movements and strengthen muscles and ligaments. 

Add cross training

This means periodically replacing running with other cyclic sports, for example, cycling, swimming, the same strength exercises.

  • Swimming and cycling are the types of workouts that develop the cardiovascular system as well as running. They are ideal if you feel dizzy, have a minor injury, or don’t feel like running.
  • Strength training in this case can also be viewed as an alternative to regular running training. You can try doing circular strength training to keep your heart rate high.

Can I take breaks from running?

The answer is unequivocally positive – you can take breaks from running. Jack Daniels, author of 800 meters to the marathon, generally considers one-time and long breaks in training as part of the preparation. He calls these breaks planned.

Runners deliberately include these breaks in their training plans, usually after the starting season. They use the days and weeks of breaks to recover before a new training cycle.

During this period of rest, runners can remove running altogether, reduce the volume and intensity of other workouts, engage in cross-training, strength training, arrange days of active and passive recovery – massages, saunas.

For the rest, experts advise treating even unplanned breaks in training as a boon. After all, obsessing over trauma and the inability to run is a path to unnecessary self-flagellation and self-destruction.

The break time can be set aside for other types of training (if health permits), for active recovery, in the end, for reading books and finding oneself. It’s a way to feel your hunger for get back to running again.

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