Friday, October 15, 2010

How to Start Running... Again

It's hard enough to begin running for the first time.  Everything is new.  How far do you run?  How fast do you try to run?  How often do you run?  These are all very important questions to ask and have answered.

But what if you're a former runner?  What if it's been years since you went out and logged any miles?  As you lace up your running shoes, you may be re-living past runs or past races, only to get out there and realize that you aren't the runner you used to be.  Now, 3 miles feels like 6, and a 10 minute mile pace feels like a 6 or 7 minute mile pace.  I know, as I speak from experience.

As a former runner, trying to get back into running, you actually have to ask yourself the same questions as a brand new runner.  How far do you run?  How fast do you try to run?  How often do you run?

The answer, like it or not, is to take it slow.  Ease back into running and you'll run for a long time.  Try to run the same mileage you ran in your younger days, and you are asking to be injured.  Here's what I suggest:

How Far: Start off with an easy mile run and see how that feels.  If you have to walk, that's fine. Do NOT get discouraged. If, on the other hand, it's too easy, go a little farther next time.  The important thing is to build up your mileage slow.  Remember, it's not the quantity of the miles you run, it's the quality!

How fast: Take it nice and slow.  What you'll find, is that your "nice and slow" becomes faster the more you run.  When I first started running again, I was struggling to run a 9:45 mile pace.  After 6 weeks, I was averaging an 8:38 pace.  A far cry from my glory days, but I'm heading in the right direction.

How often: Every other day is a good way to start back into it.  Take a day off to let your legs recover.  Do this for awhile, and soon you'll be running every day.  In fact, I suggest a Monday, Wednesday, Friday run, with some other activity on Tuesday and Thursday.  Saturday and Sunday just relax and look forward to the next week. Eventually, you can add some running on the weekends.  Listen to your body and you'll know when the time is right.

In summary, ease back into running.  You didn't fall out of the routine overnight most likely, so you can't expect to be in prime shape overnight.  Follow this advice and you're sure to see results, quicker than you thought possible.

Happy Trails!

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