Last year I dropped out of a marathon at half way and didn’t run for two months. I had a problem with my leg that only a prolonged rest was going to resolve. So I took my medicine and served my time on the bench.
After a lot of weeks it was time to try running again. I was nervous at first, I didn’t want that injury to recur and I didn’t want running to hurt. But I did want to get running again. Here’s some tips if you find yourself in this position.
10 tips for returning to running
Don’t expect to pick up where you left off. After my last hard tempo run before Bournemouth Marathon I felt fit and strong. 8:00 miles were fairly comfortable and I was confident that I had a 3:30 marathon in me. When I eased myself back into running a couple of months later I felt far from that previous fitness. I had to drop back my paces as well as my mileage and try not to get hung up on what once was.
Tell your training partners to go easy on you. They’ll be glad to have you back running with them, I’m sure. But they’ll need to slow down until you’re back to full fitness and you’ll need to put your ego aside and try not to keep up with them if they go off too fast.
Don’t rush back into training. Plan your return to running and get help writing a plan. My plan started very gently with a 400m lap of the track and then a few days later a 1 mile run. Eventually I built up to 5k. Writing it down can help with building your mileage up steadily and sensibly.
Listen to your body and ease off when needed.
But try to relax and not over analyse every little twinge.
Remember everyone is different. Don’t expect your body to return in same timeframe as someone else with the same injury. Just because your mate was running marathons two weeks after the same injury, it doesn’t mean you will.
Reassess the goals you had before your injury. Part of the reason for me withdrawing from SDW50 was not wanting to run the risk of getting injured again. Instead I focussed on a half and ended up with a PB.
Enjoy just being able to run again. I’ll bet that when you were on the injury bench, it wasn’t racing or PB chasing that was the biggest loss but the not being able to just run. Remember that feeling and be thankful you can run, however slow it may feel.
Keep doing the other stuff you did while injured – swimming, gym, rehab – particularly the rehab exercises. It’s all stuff that’s making you a better runner and you’ve started a routine now. Don’t bin it all as soon as you have the green light to run.
Investigate what it was that led to your injury and don’t repeat the same mistakes. You might need the help of a physio for this. For me it was as simple as a discussion with a friend over dinner that made me go from “Why me?” to “Oh yeah, I’m totally to blame.” I ran far too many races last year without enough rest. I won’t be doing that this year.