Dusting off your running shoes after a break can be intimidating. If injury, pregnancy, or a busy work schedule is holding you back from your passion for running, you might wonder if you’re out of shape right now.
Does your body remember how to run at a certain pace?
Or do your legs feel weak and shaky?
How many times do you have to tap on the pavement or jump on the treadmill to have fun again?
The good news is that your muscles retain their previous strength memory, which is easier to rebound than starting from scratch. If you’ve only been out for two to three weeks, you may not even notice a noticeable change in your running performance, especially if you stay physically active during your rest periods.
If it’s already longer, you probably don’t want to rush back to long runs. Combine running with walking, take the time to strengthen your unused muscles, and reward yourself.
It can take about two months for a new behavior to become automatic. Once it does, its taxes will also be reduced. But until then, you want to minimize the chances of injury and frustration. Use these expert-backed tips to get through that tiresome retraining period so you can hit the open road with passion.
Ease into the routine
If you start with small goals, you’re more likely to stick with your running habit. This can mean holding yourself back a little when it comes to speed and distance. “Slow and steady to win,” says physical therapist Karena Wu. Slow down until you can pass the talk test, which means talking while running.
Try doing short, easy runs two to three times a week.You can also follow couch to 5k training plan Designed for beginners and runners returning after a long break.
Whichever program you choose, make sure it includes elements of strength training, stretching, and rest. The key is to be consistent and remember that you’re using this time to repair the muscles, tendons, ligaments and connective tissue in your legs, says Dr. Wu.
Build instant rewards
You might think you can get some exercise in your first few weeks or months of running, but research shows that motivation alone isn’t always enough.pairsmall and immediate returns Completing a task—like watching Netflix on the treadmill, or treating yourself to an Epsom salt bath after a long run—can make it easier and more enjoyable to keep doing those activities.
“People repeat behaviors they like,” says Wendy Wood, author of “Good Habits, Bad Habits.” “If you hate running in the first place, you may not be able to motivate yourself to run repeatedly.”
Short-term rewards can get you through days of low motivation.they may even accelerated formation Your new running habit.
Research has shown that you can also earn psychological rewards from running with a group of friends, affirmation from a trainer, or listening to your favorite music. Some studies have shown that people who listen to music can run faster, perform better, and feel less tired.
Start strength training
Strength training helps prepare your body for running again and can keep you injury-free in the long term. Many physical therapists and running experts even recommend strength training a few weeks before resuming running to build muscle strength, increase flexibility, and improve overall biomechanics.
“I think a lot of people get back in shape by running, but I really recommend getting back to running by exercising,” said Erin Davis, an expert in running biomechanics at the University of South Florida.
Dr. Davis and Dr. Wu recommend exercises that train multiple muscles at the same time, such as one- and two-leg calf raises, side-strap walks (or monster walks), planks, lunges, squats, and stepping.
A well-designed warm-up also gets your blood flowing and prepares your muscles for running. Dr. Wu and Dr. Davis recommend dynamic stretches, in which you move your joints and muscles through a full range of motion, mimicking the movements you’ll be doing, without having to hold them in place . For runners, they are often the same exercises used in strength training, such as lunges and squats, as well as kicks and high knees.
Studies have provided mixed and often conflicting results on the benefits of cooling down after a workout. But many athletes and physical therapists, including Dr. Wu, recommend static stretching, which is staying in one position for a period of time after a run. She also recommends putting your knees in front of your chest, pulling your ankles toward your hips, leaning against a wall to stretch your calves, or doing a deep lunge and turning your hips around. Try stretching to see if it makes you feel more flexible or helps you restore energy for your next run.
get enough rest
Just because your body remembers how to do it, doesn’t mean your muscles and joints are ready to take the toll of running. When you rebuild endurance and strength during your run, you also damage your body in many ways, such as opening microscopic tears in your muscles. Taking at least one day off a week can help avoid injuries, allow you to recover stronger, and give your body time to recover.
During each run, your body also uses up its stores of glycogen, a type of carbohydrate stored in your muscles and liver. Resting and refueling can help replenish these reserves so you can use them for energy when you run again.
Remind yourself that you are improving throughout the process. Running is an exhilarating workout, letting the breeze blow through your hair and underfoot. So dust those shoes off and walk out the door. – this article originally appeared in New York Times
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