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How to Start Running Again

Published or Updated On: 
November 15, 2022

You used to run, but it's been a while. 

Maybe it’s been 6 weeks. A busy time of life put you out of commission. 

Maybe it’s been 16 years. You were an athlete once upon a time and want to reconnect with that fitness.

Now you’re wondering how to start running again. Or maybe you’ve tried to start again, failed, and have had a few of these moments:

why are you like this

Fortunately, it’s entirely possible to sidestep the circuit of Try —> Fail —> Soul Crushing Disappointment. Here’s all the practical advice you’ll need to get back out there:

1. Schedule it

You don’t want to just run once or twice, you want to start running again. That means doing it regularly. But life gets busy, and if you don’t carve out a regular time to run, it’s hard to be consistent with it. Set your intention to get back into running by scheduling the specific days and times to run. If you aren’t sure where to start, consider a couch to 5k program with a race day to look forward to.

2. Start easy

The number 1 thing that will stop you from running again is getting injured. Don’t underestimate just how easy it is to get hurt after time off running. The best way to avoid injury is to do easy runs. The distance and pace should not be difficult. This is particularly hard advice for people to follow, as they think they need to really suffer for gains to be made. This is simply not true, you’ll make gains on easy runs. Skip sacrificing your lungs at the alter of the running gods, you don’t need to pay penitence.

3. Let go of expectations about performance

This is a big one. Don’t compare yourself to where you once were. Don’t compare yourself to others either. You’re starting fresh. If you go into it with expectations, you might feel disappointed (or demotivated) by how far off you are from where you were back in the day. Let go of that, it doesn’t serve you. You’re at where you’re at now. Let’s make some improvements from there.

4. Fall in love with it again

OK, bear with me on this one. Running itself is pretty uncomfortable. So whenever someone says they love running, I always feel like there’s some Stockholm syndrome shit going on: *looks around to see if running can hear* “Haha, oh yeah I love running! It’s great!” *smiles nervously while looking at the floor*

No one loves the feeling of discomfort that is universally created by running. They love the feeling of knowing that they’re improving their health & fitness. They love the sense of accomplishment when they’re done. They love getting outside, being with friends, and the challenge of it. These are the parts you want to reconnect with.

5. Invest in good shoes

This has the double benefit of making injury less likely & helping you get excited about the project with some fun new gear. Running is a pretty inexpensive sport if you’re in a place where you can run outside, so good shoes are one of the only investments you’ll need to make. 

6. Remember to stretch

You can learn this the hard way or the easy way. The easy way is listening to advice, the hard way is getting hurt. You don’t need a big elaborate stretching program, and this doesn’t need to take a long time. A few good basic maneuvers should cover your bases. Personally, I know which injuries are likely for me (shin splints & plantar fasciitis) and mainly stretch to prevent these.

I’ll wrap this up with a word of encouragement. Future you will be really glad that you made the decision to start running again. It’s truly one of the best things you can do for yourself & the people around you (you’re giving them the gift of a happier, healthier you). You’ve got this, let’s go!

Further reading: How to keep running when you want to stop.

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