How to resume running after a break

There are breaks in running training: planned or unplanned, due to a loss of desire to train or due to injury, due to a change in lifestyle and any other circumstance.

We tell you what happens to the body during a break, how to properly return to the running system and whether it is possible to take breaks with advantage.

What happens to the body without running

It doesn’t matter why you quit running – without sports, the body will begin to change. After a week without any training, even in a physically developed organism, changes begin in the work of the heart and lungs, in the state of the muscles, in the work of the hormonal system.

The heart will begin to pump 10% less blood per beat. You may notice this when your resting heart rate increases slightly from what it was during regular workouts.

The anaerobic threshold will fall – a high level of intensity that the body is able to maintain for a long time without a noticeable increase in the amount of lactate. You will feel it if, after a break, you immediately proceed to high-intensity exercises.

Without running, the indicator of maximum oxygen consumption (VO2max) decreases. If the break continues in the second and third week, then the VO2max decreases by 4 to 15%.

This is also due to the changes that occur in the muscles – the network of capillaries that has been built up during the training period will break down, which will affect the access of oxygen to the tissues. At this time of the break, the volume of blood pumped by the heart will have already dropped by 20% compared to what it was during the training period.

And it is clear that the more running and sports are absent in the same volume, the further the regression will go – what the runners between them call a rollback. After a month without sport, the capillary network of the body will return to what it was before training and the volume of the heart will decrease considerably.

Changes in the hormonal system will be felt when you return to training – the body will produce more stress hormones at the same loads as before, and it will take longer to recover.

Read more: Resting heart rate: how to measure and why you need to know

How to get back to running

The body after the break is not ready not only for training in the same volume, but even for some less intense loads.

The good news is that those who trained regularly and long before the break will have an easier time getting back into running. But trained and untrained people should be lured carefully, in small volumes and with low intensity.

How to resume running after a break
We include the body in the work gradually, this will relieve injuries and overtraining

walk hard

If the break is due to an injury, it is best to start running again while walking. You need to walk for a duration of 45-60 minutes, and not at a walking pace, but at a brisk pace, at which the pulse should be about 100 beats per minute.

The heart and muscles will begin to remember the load, and at the same time you can check whether the pain persists after the injury. If it’s not there, you can enter running.

Read more: Walking: types, benefits, calorie consumption

In the event that there was no injury, but the break turned out to be long, it is still better to alternate jogging and walking.

During the first week of training after a break, try the beginner program:

  • 1 minute escape
  • 2 minute intensive walk

And so on for 30 minutes.

The following week, increase your running interval to 2 minutes with the same walking interval of 2 minutes. Then, focusing on how you feel, shorten the walk interval and cut it out altogether, but feel free to step up if you feel like it.

Evolve gradually

If the break is unrelated to an injury or if the injury was not serious and there is no longer any pain, you can immediately resume running at low intensity, without intervals, slips and the like, and , of course, you will have to continue with smaller volumes.

If the pause lasted more than 10 days, start with 70% of the previous volume. If from two weeks to a month – 50% of the previous volume. Two months is less than half of previous volumes. If the break lasts more than three months, start over from the beginning (see paragraph above).

And most importantly – do not forget the 10% rule: you must increase the volumes gradually, each new week + 10% of the volume of the previous one. For example, if you run 20 km in one week, run 22 km the next. On the next – 24-25 km, etc.

Topic podcast: Running volumes, or how much you need to train for a marathon

Plan your next racing season

Try to analyze when you had to stop running. If it’s not related to life circumstances, the problem is probably too much volume, or too high an intensity, or insufficient recovery, or poor technique.

In order to properly distribute the load after the break and not step on the same rake, it is better to find a running coach who will train with you, or at least establish a training program with him.

A training program can be purchased, compiled in a running application or using sports gadgets. For example, in the Nike Running Club running app, you can plan a training program for runs from 5 to 42 km.

A more difficult program can be selected using a Polar Flow account and a sports watch that will track the condition of the body.

Check your running technique. Again, it’s best to contact the coach to assess the technique from the side. You can ask a friend to videotape you and try to analyze the errors yourself. You can also contact the race lab.

Include massage (or at least self-massage), sauna or bath, Pilates or yoga in the recovery program, be sure to stretch.

Read more: 5 rules for long-distance running techniques

Add Law Enforcement and SBU

Strength training will help you avoid future injury, increase your explosive strength and endurance, and build the muscles that work in running. And add variety to your workouts.

How to resume running after a break
A competent training plan always includes SBUs and other exercises
  • It is best to have strength training for runners as part of your preparation and training plan.
  • Strength training should be repeated 2-3 times a week and take at least 30-40 minutes.
  • Strength training can be done in the gym on simulators, with expanders and elastic bands, and with your own weight. If there is weight, focus on light weights and high reps.
  • If you’re not sure where to start, listen to our bodybuilding podcast for runners.
  • Special running drills are the lifeline of the runner, they will help you perfect your technique, develop coordination and strengthen muscles and ligaments. Explore our selection of 50 development exercises for the runner.

Add Cross Training

This involves the periodic replacement of running with other cyclical sports, for example, cycling, swimming, the same strength exercises.

  • Swimming and cycling are types of training that develop the cardiovascular system just like running. They are ideal for when you feel bad, have a minor injury or don’t feel like running.
  • In this case, strength training can also be considered as an alternative to regular running training. You can try doing circuit strength training to keep your heart rate elevated.

Can you take breaks during the run?

The answer is definitely yes – you can take breaks from running. Jack Daniels, author of 800m to the Marathon, generally considers occasional and long breaks from training as part of preparation. He calls these planned breaks.

These breaks are intentionally included by riders in their training plan, usually after the start of the season. They use days and weeks of breaks to recover before a new training cycle.

During this rest period, runners can completely stop running, reduce the volume and intensity of other training, engage in cross-training, strength training, organize active and passive recovery days – massages, saunas .

Otherwise, Daniels advises treating even unplanned breaks in training as a godsend. Ultimately, dwelling on injury and inability to run is a pathway to unnecessary self-flagellation and self-destruction.

Break times can be devoted to other types of training (health permitting), active recovery, finally, reading books and self-research. It’s a way to rekindle your thirst for running training.

Read next: How to replace running: 13 alternative ideas