The Importance of Easing Back into Training

The Importance of Easing Back into Training

Whether you are coming back from an injury or just time off, getting back into shape isn’t always the most enjoyable thing.  I like running. However, the feeling of being out of shape and always tired isn’t pleasant.

This particular return, it’s also been incredibly hot.  Thinking out loud, when I left running a few short months ago, most of my runs were in pouring rain and the cold.  Now it’s hot and humid.  To be honest, during my break I also didn’t do a lot of cross-training, so I did also lose quite a bit of fitness.  My first 5k back, I ran at a pace slower than the half marathon I consider to be unsuccessful.  My second 5k I got lost, but I do think I made some sort of improvement.  When I left running, I could run 18:30-18:40 5ks like no big deal.  Currently, I believe I could push myself as hard as possible for a 20:00 5k (but it probably would need to be a flat, fast and ideal day).

But like anything in life, it’s important not to compare yourself to anyone, including yourself.  Some people can jump right into training and never lose fitness.  I’m definitely not one of those people.  

During my run, I didn’t run, I didn’t cross train much and gained a little bit of weight.  I also didn’t care about any of these things.  That just makes getting back into shape harder.

So What are Important Aspects to Remember?

Easy Runs are Important:

You don’t have to run fast at all.  Whether they are coming back from an injury, a rest period of anything else, too many people makes the mistake of running too fast.  It doesn’t matter if you are in shape or not, if you train fast all of the time, you will set yourself up for an injury.  In fact, running too fast all of the time is how I got my first tibia stress fracture.  Easy runs are what build you stronger.  It’s especially important for me, this time because I’m not coming back from anything broken and don’t have something especially suspectable to breaking by doing too much.

Don’t Compare Yourself:

As humans, there is always something to compare ourselves too.  Every article or blog I’ve ever read always says “don’t compare yourself”, but that is so much easier said than done.Whether it’s while running or not.  Don’t compare yourself to yourself either.

With fitness, you are always at a different point journey.  We are never in the exact same fitness level all of the time, and it’s important to recognize that.   Don’t train how you once trained.  You have to build up to the fitness you were once at.  Determine your paces and realistic goals from where you are right now, not 3 months ago.

Slow and Steady Wins the Base Race:

Many times, after I begin running again, I want to go as fast or run as much as possible all of the time.  That is unintelligent and going to result in an injury.  Ease into training and allow yourself to slowly build your base.  Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither is fitness.

No matter where you left, getting back into shape is challenging.  It’s not effortless or streamline.  Perhaps a better reminder for myself more than anything!

Other posts:

What to do Between Training Cycles

NonRunning Workout Ideas

Question for you: Have you ever taken time off of fitness entirely?


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  1. Well hopefully in a few months I can tell you exactly what I did, if I can ever get this knee injury resolved I’ll be slowly working back in to the mileage and remembering how happy I am to do it, not focusing on how I used to run 🙂

  2. I feel like no one’s true fitness shows in the heat and humidity. It’s rough out there and you’re just getting back into it, plus you can’t control that the race was long with people getting misdirected or lost. Plus if you needed the mental break from the competitive rat race of running, it is worth it even if you do lose some fitness because it will come back; it always has with other injuries or breaks. Just keep chugging along and it will pay off when the weather cools down!

  3. Great tips! I’m starting to get back into marathon training mode after time off from road running. Starting slow is key, especially in this heat!

  4. Good advice Hollie! After sitting out for almost 8 weeks with a bad knee, I wanted to jump right back in, but I had lost endurance and the weather had warmed up. Decided to run/walk intervals to help rebuild my endurance and not reinjure the knee. So far so good. In the six years I have been running, I have never taken a complete fitness hiatus.

  5. I really respect the way you have come back from your time off. The fact that it wasn’t even injury related but you are still taking it slow and easy is really refreshing. I have seen so many people rush right back into running 6 or 7 days a week (coming off an injury, no less) and right back into their previous mileage, and it just is a recipe for disaster. Way to stage your comeback the smart way!

  6. Great reminder! I know I’m going to struggle to come back slowly … it’s always tempting to jump right back to what you were doing before. I’m hoping to start with a few short runs while we’re in Europe (it will be tough to run more than 3 miles anyway when I don’t know where I am!) and then continue to ease back in when we’re home. You’ll bounce back fast … I’m sure your body appreciated the break too and will reward you for that!

    1. Very sage advise from such a youngster! I’ve been running for a while now (I’m almost 56), and you really nailed it. It takes a while to get that fitness back, especially if weight gain is involved. Don’t press it. Coming back from a layoff is when you are most prone to injury.

      That being said, you are a speed demon, and you can get back to prior fitness levels if you want to. Running is physical; running fast is mental. Plan accordingly!

  7. Boyyyyyyyyy howdy, did I need this today. I’ve been running for about a month now, coming back from nearly six months of no running due to injury. I’ve been struggling. It’s been difficult. And I cannot figure out why. This post was my answer, and I can’t thank you enough!:)

  8. Oh man, YES to never being at the exact same fitness level. I feel like so much fitness “inspiration” is about always pushing to be in your best shape ever, and human bodies just don’t work like that.

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