Rebuilding Your Running Base

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If you’re anything like me there have been times in your life when you stopped running. It may have been because of injury, pregnancy, busyness, or just plain laziness. Maybe you are just starting your running journey.

The thought of running miles can seem like a daunting process when you’re out of running shape. I’ve been there myself several times.

I’ve had to rebuild my running base after a knee injury and following three pregnancies.

In the beginning I’ve wondered if it was even worth it. Let me assure you that it is worth it! I want to help you build your running base.

Seven Steps for Rebuilding Your Running Base

1. Let Go of Your Guilt!

One of the biggest barriers to getting back in shape is often guilt. You may feel guilty for not exercising (for whatever the reason). There is this nagging feeling that you could have done something to prevent your running lapse. But guilt is a poor motivator.

2. Assess Your Fitness Level

Honestly figure out where you are physically so that you realistically know where to start. If you try to start back too aggressively it may set you up for injury, disappointment, and failure.

When determining your fitness level, ask yourself these questions:

  • Do I get short of breath walking around the house? You will need to start with a walking program and build up to 30 minutes of continuous walking before attempting to run.
  • Can I walk for 30 minutes without difficulty? You are in the perfect place to start a walk/run program.
  • Can I run 3 miles comfortably? You’re at the ideal place to start building up your long run mileage.

3. Determine Whether You Need to Lose Weight

Maybe you’ve determined that you have a long way to go before you’re in top shape. One barrier to overcome may be dealing with extra weight.

Extra pounds take a toll on every system in your body. Everything from your heart to your joints have to work harder. Carrying excess weight is certainly going to make exercise more uncomfortable.

But don’t use your weight as an excuse not to exercise. Combining a healthy diet with exercise will be your best tool to losing the weight you need to and feeling great about yourself.

4. Set a Specific Goal

In the beginning your goal can be to run for one mile without getting tired. Then try to run 5k without walking. Then something bigger. The point is, you need to break your base rebuilding into bite sized pieces.

“Great works are performed not by strength, but by perseverance.” – Samuel Johnson

5. Choose a Proven Training Plan
Once you’ve verbalized your goal you need to have a way to accomplish it. This is where choosing a proven training plan comes in.

You’ll need to slowly build up your running base by using a walk/run method to train your body and mind for longer distances. Check out the “training plan” page for a couch to 5k plan and half and full marathon training plans.

If your goal is to run a half or full marathon you will benefit from MTA Member. It offers a proven step by step method for training along with personalized help from me.

6. Listen to Your Body

It is normal to have some aches, stiffness, discomfort, and burning lungs at first. This is not a reason to give up. However, if you experience sharp or nagging pain or difficulty breathing you will need to slow down and evaluate what is going on. You may be pushing too hard for your body’s fitness level.

Remember, your long-term fitness and success is more important than a temporary goal. Have the mentality that you are on a life-time fitness journey and don’t be a “one shot wonder”.

Incorporate focused cross training, stretching, rest, and a healthy diet in addition to your running routine. Don’t be afraid to consult a physical therapist or doctor who specializes in sports medicine if you are dealing with an injury.

7. Stay Positive and Celebrate the Small Victories

When you first start back on a running or exercise program you may not enjoy it very much. It may take a few weeks or months before you start noticing the benefits. Don’t give up.

Keep a positive attitude and celebrate the progress you are making. When you have kept with your program for 1 month reward yourself with some new running gear or a foot massager.

I’ve found that getting out of bed is 50% of the battle, getting out the door is another 25%, and then the run usually takes care of itself.

I have rebuilt my running base three times (and currently doing it for the fourth time).

Follow these steps, be persistent and you will get your base rebuilt as strong as ever!

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4 Responses to Rebuilding Your Running Base

  1. Trevor November 10, 2010 at 6:16 pm #

    So, what do you think?

  2. Adrian November 18, 2010 at 9:37 pm #

    Thanks guys — very interesting as usual!

    Is there any research on how quickly you “lose” fitness?

    e.g. if you don’t run for two weeks, can you pick up your training schedule from 2 weeks BEFORE you stopped running, or is it non-linear?

    Keep up the great work!

  3. Angie November 22, 2010 at 2:43 pm #

    Thanks for the comment Adrian. In general, the loss of fitness depends on how fit you are, how long you’ve been running, and how long you stop. Most expert agree that loss of fitness happens after 2-3 weeks. But this does vary from person to person. You should be able to return to your normal training plan more quickly if you stopped running due to a busy schedule as opposed to an illness. First try doing a mid-distance test run to see how you feel. If that goes well ease back into your schedule from where you left off. Be sure to listen to your body and adjust accordingly. Happy running!


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