Getting back into running can seem daunting if you’ve been away from marathons, minis or running in general. Here are some tips.
If you are getting back into running after a hiatus during the pandemic, getting to the starting line after a long pause may seem challenging. Here are some ways to get back into the habit.
It’s important to acknowledge that many of us have been unable to stay active during the COVID-19 pandemic for a multitude of reasons. If you’re a seasoned runner who hasn’t been able to keep up with your runs, it’s OK. Starting slow is going to help you get back to where you want to be.
Commit to yourself and choose a race
It may seem counterintuitive to sign up for the race before you’ve trained for it. However, selecting an event, paying the entry fee and putting it on your calendar gives you a goal. It’s important to give yourself enough time to train for the distance you want to run. If you’re a beginner or returning to running, you can run any race as long as you have an adequate training time.
Whether you’re getting back out there or just getting started, you may want to start with a 5K. At just 3.1 miles, it can be less intimidating than a longer race. That’s not to say you can’t start with a big goal like a half-marathon or marathon — you just may want to consider shorter-distance races to build up to your ultimate race goal.
Getting back into running may mean getting new gear
A good pair of running shoes is key to staying injury-free. If you haven’t laced up your running shoes in a while, check to see if your shoes still feel comfortable. Our feet can change with time, so jog around your house in them. If they’re not comfortable, consider buying a new pair.
In addition to shoes, socks are essential to comfort while running. Breathable, snug socks can help prevent bacteria from building up in your shoes. Make sure your socks fit properly — bunched-up socks can cause blisters and other issues that sideline runners.
Get your form right
Knowing how you run can help you stay aware and avoid injury. Some people naturally heel-strike, and others lead with their toes. Neither form is better than the other. Knowing your stride and making modifications as needed can help you prevent injuries.
Choose a training plan
There are many running apps and training plans available online. Some are elaborate, while some are simple and others are in between. Choose a training plan that honors where you are in your running journey and one that can keep you motivated. If you’re getting back into running, increasing your mileage or pace too fast may cause an overuse injury. If you’re a seasoned runner, there’s nothing wrong with choosing a plan that eases you into longer runs, as most training plans do.
Norton Sports Health offers a free Kentucky Derby Festival mini & Marathon training program. The 15-week program features organized group runs, training tips and preparation. The Norton Sports Health training program gives you tools to help you meet your personal goals:
- Practice running hills in Iroquois and Cherokee parks to increase endurance and help you adapt to different environments.
- “Track training” days can help runners build endurance and speed, and learn to focus on pacing and stride.
- Turn-by-turn directions: If you can’t make a group run or your pace is different from the pack, the program gives you turn-by-turn directions for organized runs so you can run with confidence by yourself or with the group.
Listen to your body
Don’t be afraid to adapt your training plan to what your body is telling you — avoid the temptation to push yourself too far as you’re getting back into running. Adapting can help you continue with your running schedule and avoid injury. If something is causing you to shift the mechanics of your stride, you may need to see a doctor.
Reviewed by Stephanie Fish, training program coordinator, Norton Sports Health.