After a few weeks or more of reduced running or even complete abstinence due to a running injury, you might be tempted to jump right in where you left off. Some reason, “How will I know if it’s better unless I test it out?” Determining how much and when is important in returning back to running to avoid re-injuring yourself and finding yourself on the sidelines yet again. Despite the temptation to return quickly to your usual training regime, gradually increasing your mileage is the safest way to get back to your peak performance level.
10 Training Tips For Resuming Training After A Running Injury
- Start off slowly. Don’t get sucked into the trap of “testing” out your injury. Part of recovery from a running injury is building up tissue tolerance to allow your body to tolerate your previous mileage. The severity of your injury plays a key role in determining how much, how fast. One hard and fast rule is to take at least one day off between runs to encourage full recovery.
- Take it easy. Build up your endurance base by using the perceived exertion scale, making sure you can carry on a conversation while running, or monitoring your heart rate. You should start off at low levels of exertion and gradually increase the intensity of your runs using the 10% rule.
- Increase Your Mileage and Training Gradually. Increasing your training (ie mileage, time, or intensity by more than 10% per week increases your risk of suffering from a running injury.
- Forget about the “No Pain/No Gain” Motto. You may experience mild muscle soreness as you return to running, but it should resolve within 40 minutes of completing your run. Pain, especially after returning from a running injury, is your body’s warning sign that you may be trying to come back too quickly.
- Continue to Cross Train. This will help you maintain and improve your overall strength and fitness levels, perhaps allowing you to even be stronger and faster than before your injury.
- Build a Base. Don’t return to speed training until you have re-established your base. This could take as long as 6-8 weeks, depending on the type of running injury. When you do return to interval or speed training, allow yourself at least 48 hours between harder days to allow your body to recover.
- Follow a Training Program. Planning out your workouts will help keep you from doing too much too soon and also help you see progress. If you’re like most runners, it’s tough to be patient
- Keep a Journal. Or at least put a brief note on your calendar to keep track of actual miles ran, time, how you felt. If you had any symptoms during or after your run, how long did they last? This is a good way not only to monitor your training, but also any symptoms that come up.
- Be flexible. If you are sore one day, modify accordingly.
- Think long term. Focusing on mileage day to day or week to week is frustrating while you are recovering from a running injury. Keep the big picture in mind and focus on the longer term goals so you don’t get stressed if you need to take an extra recovery day.
Don’t Forget That It Was The Tortoise That Won The Race
Steadiness, consistency, and a smart plan are the keys to keeping you happy and healthy. Diving right back into your usual training after taking time off after a running injury is no different than the rabbit who sprinted at the start of the race against the tortoise. Even though it’s tempting, try to take the tortoise’s approach so you can race well and achieve your goals.