How to Get Back Into Running After a Break


It’s so easy to get out of running, isn’t it?

You’re going along just fine and then WHAM-O. You get sick or injured or stressed or busy or bored or sad or happy or sneezy or nothing even happens at all, and you find yourself going a few days without running. Next thing you know, it’s been a week, then it’s two weeks and then you’re like, “I don’t even need you, running. I’m good.”

But then one day you’re going for a nice walk with your partner and the evening is cool, but warm, and the sun is setting, but there’s plenty of light, and you see the trail and you think, “Man, I could really go for a run right now,” and that’s when you know you need to get back into running.

So, how do you do it? “They” say about two weeks off is enough time to lose your running endurance, so that kind of sucks. But what is it you are trying to accomplish with your running anyway?

This is the first thing you need to answer before you even lace up your shoes.

Decide Why You Want to Run

Reasons to run vary for everyone, but some common answers are:

  • To keep up with friends
  • To accomplish a half marathon/marathon
  • To lose weight
  • To get strong
  • Therapy
  • To wear cute workout clothes

Hey, I’m not judging here. I’m just here to help. (Besides, I’ve been known to exercise just for the workout clothes.)

But you really need to answer the question: Why do I want to run? And then I suggest you write it down somewhere, such as in your journal. (I have this sweet Believe Training Journal by pro runners Lauren Fleshman and Roisin McGettigan-Dumas that is freaking awesome for keeping track of your running and/or workout goals.)

How to Get Back Into Running | Mom vs. Marathon #training #running #workouts #journals
My Believe Training Journal

You could also write your “why” on a cute sticky note and post it on your mirror. Or take a picture of it and make it the screen saver on your phone.

Write it down because, if you’re anything like me, you’ll forget what it is by the time you finish reading this post. (Sorry I’m so long-winded.)

But why do you need a “why”?

When you have a “why,” it is much easier to keep the motivation to do the things you want to do.

Hey, we all know that as soon as you get sleepy, sad, hungry, sneezy, dopey, whatever, that you will have an easy opportunity to quit. Even if you don’t want to quit. Like my dad used to say: Motivation does not grow on trees. Okay, he did not say that, but he should have.

It is true, though, that motivation does not show up every day. But, if you have a “why,” motivation is a lot easier to find.

Say you’re feeling particularly lazy, er, sleepy one day, and you don’t want to go for your run. But then you see your “why” on the bathroom mirror. And, you’re like, “Oh yeah. I want to be a kick-ass superstar PR-busting runner in my half marathon this fall.” So you splash some cold water on your face, put on your Spandex and head out the door (or step onto the treadmill, whatever you do–like I said, nobody is judging here; this is a safe space).

How to Ease Into Running

Even if you ran a rockstar 10-miler before your running hiatus, you should probably ease back into running that far. First, 10 miles can sound super intimidating if you’ve been on a Ross and Rachel (AKA “a break”).

How to Get Back Into Running | Mom vs. Marathon #running #training

Or maybe you’re like me and conveniently forget (like childbirth) that 10 miles is actually pretty far, and your brain is like, “Oh yeah, no prob,” but your body is like, “Oh yeah, f*ck you.” Go with what your body says on this one. Trust me.

This leads to another reason to ease slowly into running: You could possibly hurt yourself and then you’ll have to stop running again, and that’s not what we’re going for here.

So, easy back into it. When I say ease, I mean run slow and limit your time and days running.

Run maybe three days a week for 30 minutes each day for a couple weeks. Or, if you must do a long run, make it at least half of what you did before your break, or even less depending on how long your break was.

Been away for a few months? Yeah, you need to start over, so forget about what you did before. Think of this as an opportunity to do things right this time because, we all know, the last time you set a running goal, you screwed it up royally, which is actually a good thing because it means at least you did something and you deserve a crown for that.

If you need a plan, Jeff Galloway’s website is a great resource for beginning or returning runners.

Sprint Your Way Back Into Running

Okay, so maybe your “why” isn’t distance-running related. Maybe you want to lose weight by running. The best running for weight and fat loss, I’ve read (and found out personally), isn’t long, moderate-intensity runs. Nope, it’s a couple of sprinting sessions a week, and then once a week, a longer, super-slow run. A jog, if you will.

How to Get Back Into Running | Mom vs. Marathon #jogging #running #ronburgundy #meme #runningmeme
Ron Burgundy knows what I’m talkin’ about.

Or maybe you need some cardio to go with your weight lifting plan. Or maybe you just want to wear the cute Lululemon crops. Or maybe you just feel like running!

Sprinting seems like a counterintuitive way to “ease” back into running, but the thing about sprinting is that there is a lot of rest, which is why sprinting is one of my favorite ways to run. You go hard, and then you walk. Go hard, walk. Go hard, walk. And when I say “walk,” I mean, look at Snapchat.

Do that for 15-20 minutes, and you’ve got your run in for the day.

Running isn’t all about mileage, guys. Again, it obvs depends on your “why.” If you want to train for a marathon, this sprinting stuff won’t work for you in the long run (hahaha).

I hope this helps you get back into running. I am in this place. I am ready to get back into it. I will be going the sprinting route, at first, because my “why” is body composition (fat loss). What’s your “why”? Leave it in the comments.

Tips and Resources from this Article:

  • Ask yourself: “Why do I want to run?” Nail down your reason to help you keep motivated.
  • Write your “why” down on a sticky note, or in a journal like the Believe Training Journal.
  • Ease back into running by starting slow. Check out Jeff Galloway’s website for help.
  • Try getting back into running with sprinting. Here is my favorite sprint workout, which is from one of my favorite books on fat loss, “The Metabolic Effect Diet”: Sprint 20 seconds. Walk till your heart rate (HR) recovers. Sprint 30 seconds. Walk till your HR recovers. Sprint 40 seconds. Walk till your HR recovers. Sprint 60 seconds. Walk till your HR recovers. Do that for as many rounds as you can for 15 or 20 minutes. Then go for a nice 10-minutes cool down walk.