It’s not easy to get back into running. I speak directly from experience; after the Houston Marathon, I struggled to run more than two or three miles without needing a walk break. Then, just as I started feeling strong again, I had a medication mix-up that caused my heart to race. I thought I’d never run more than a mile or two at a time ever again.
But I did get back into running – slowly, by meeting myself where I was at that moment. Namely, I could run two miles without stopping, so I wanted to build up from there to six, then start training for a fall half marathon. Here’s what I did to start running longer distances again, and some tips if you’re getting back into running (or starting from scratch.)
Set a Goal for Getting Back into Running
As I mentioned, I chose six miles, or 10K, as my goal. I knew I could build up from there to a half marathon distance. Your goal might be a 5K, or 45 minutes without stopping, or a half marathon. Choose a running goal that works for you, but make it measurable, either in time or distance.
One thing I didn’t do when I set my running goal is choose a pace. This helped me immensely; instead of focusing on how fast I was going, I focused on the mechanics of running, how I felt, and what my heart rate was. Your goal will be different from mine, but I knew that, starting where I was, I couldn’t focus on pace. I trained for months to run a long, slow distance. And it will likely be months before I can run a shorter, faster distance.
Choose a Plan
I’m not even going to list out the plethora of Couch to X programs available for free, because you have your pick. For me, because I wanted six miles to be my goal, I sought out a Couch to 10K plan. This is what made sense for me, but a Couch to 5K plan may work better for you, if that’s your goal. I also met myself where I was; since I could run two miles without stopping, I knew I didn’t have to completely start from scratch. So I didn’t. I started somewhere in the middle so I could re-adjust to distance.
Sorry; I don’t have any amazing wisdom here. You might choose a race and sign up as motivation. But for me, my only motivation was the feeling of my muscles and tendons working together. That’s what got me moving again. I decided what days I would run, then ran, whether it was on the treadmill or outside.