People quit running for several reasons; surprisingly, only 8% of runners quit due to injuries. The major reasons behind giving up running are a lack of motivation (38%) and an inconsistent schedule (34%).
Regardless of which group you fall into, trying to get back into running after a long break can be challenging at first. You lace up your running shoes and step outside, eager to pound the pavement like you used to. But after some time off, that first run doesn’t feel the same — your legs feel heavy, your lungs burn, and you realise just how much fitness you’ve lost. Don’t despair; even without a personal trainer, you can work your way back to the runner you once were.
We’ve put together this guide to help you understand how to get back into running again after years off.
The Prerequisites: Setting Achievable Running Goals
Starting to run again after time off means beginning slowly and building up gradually. As a result, you should set small, achievable goals to stay motivated.
Here are 4 important tips for a running comeback:
- Be friendly with the timing for a start: To get back into running, aim for just 10–15 minutes of running 2–3 times a week. This could be a mile or less. Don’t worry about speed or distance; just get out there and run at an easy, comfortable pace. Consider this a chance to reconnect with your body and the joy of running.
- Gradually increase the timing: Once your body has adjusted to the short runs, build up your time by just 1–2 minutes per run. Gradually increase distance in a similar fashion. It’s important you listen to your body; don’t increase more than 10% per week. If you experience severe pain in any part of your body such that it becomes unbearable, back off. You want running to feel challenging but still enjoyable.
- Reward yourself for each win: Upon each progress, celebrate achieving your goals, no matter how small they seem. Reward yourself with new running gear or a post-run treat. Staying positive and motivated is key to being on the track again.
- Ignore your past performance: Don’t compare yourself to how fast or how far you used to run before the break. Focus on your current fitness and be proud of your accomplishments. If you stay consistent, your speed and endurance will improve over time.
The most important goal is simply to get out there and run consistently; everything else will follow. You’ve got this — now lace up those shoes and get moving! In no time, you’ll be back to pounding the pavement and feeling strong.
Creating a 4-Week Plan to Start Running Again
To successfully get back into running after some time off, it’s important to create a structured training plan. This will help you gradually build up your endurance and avoid overexertion or injury.
Here’s a 4-week running plan to help you get your legs back on track:
- Start with brisk walks for 20–30 minutes 3 times a week.
- Incorporate some light stretching exercises to improve flexibility.
- Gradually increase the duration and intensity of your walks as the week progresses. And on each walk, make sure to stay hydrated with a HIGH5 Electrolyte Sports Drink.
- Begin alternating between walking and jogging. Start with a 3:1 ratio (3 minutes of walking, 1 minute of jogging) for 20–30 minutes 3 times a week.
- Continue with stretching exercises to maintain flexibility and build key running muscles.
- Take rest days in between runs to allow your body to recover.
- Increase the jogging intervals to a 2:1 ratio (2 minutes of walking, 1 minute of jogging) for 25–35 minutes 3 times a week.
- Add some strength training exercises, such as squats and lunges, to improve leg strength.
- Stay consistent with your stretching routine, and listen to your body for any signs of fatigue or discomfort.
- Aim for a 1:1 ratio (equal time of walking and jogging) for 30–40 minutes 3 times a week.
- Challenge yourself with longer distances or slightly faster paces.
- Continue incorporating strength training exercises and stretching to support your running schedule. At this point, you’re highly susceptible to fatigue — replenish your strength with some packs of HIGH5 Energy Gels.
Remember to listen to your body and adjust the plan as needed. Gradually increasing your running intensity and duration will help you build a solid foundation for long-term success. With consistency, you’ll be able to reconnect with your old running self.
How to Get Back Into Running After Gaining Weight
To get back to running after adding some weight, we recommend focusing on cross-training, strength training, and resistance training. Be sure to motivate yourself by tracking your runs, rewarding yourself, training for a race, and forming a network with other runners. Also, take things slow to ensure you give your body enough time to run properly once again and to avoid injury; before you know it, you will be gearing up for a half marathon.
Here are 3 tips to help you get used to running again:
- Focus on how you feel: Forget about speed or distance for now. Pay attention to how your body feels as you run. Notice your breathing, your energy level, any tightness or discomfort. Run at a pace that feels good — one where you can still speak in full sentences. This mindful approach will help you build back up in a healthy, sustainable way.
- Strength-train: In addition to running, focus on strength training 2–3 times a week. Squats, lunges, pushups and planks will build muscle to support your joints and improve your running efficiency. Strength training also boosts your metabolism, helping you shed excess weight. Even just 20–30 minutes of bodyweight exercises a few times a week can make a big difference.
- Stay hydrated and stretch: Proper hydration and stretching are key to getting back into running after weight gain. Drink plenty of sports drinks every day for energy and to aid muscle recovery. Stretch your major running muscles like hamstrings, quads, glutes and calves at least 2–3 times a week. Gentle yoga is also great for runners. In a nutshell, stretching and hydrating minimise injury risk, prevent dehydration symptoms, and keep your body primed to run.
Equipping your garage with home gym equipment, such as adjustable weight benches and resistance bands, can provide a convenient and effective way to incorporate strength and cross-training into your routine, enhancing your running performance and reducing the risk of injury.
With consistency, you’ll gain endurance, lose weight, and be back to your old running self again. But take your time and pay attention to how your body adapts to your workout sessions — this will help you prevent unnecessary injuries. And if it helps, consider running with an accountability partner to keep you motivated.
How to Get Back Into Running After an Injury
Returning to running after an injury can be tough, both physically and mentally. We recommend combining running with walking to help get you back into form.
Run/walk approaches can reduce the risk that comes with running after an injury. Consider starting with 1-minute runs combined with walks spanning 1 to 2 minutes. Doing this daily while increasing your run periods—depending on your form—is a good way to quickly hit 20-minute run sessions. You can then increase the frequency afterwards.
Consider the following tips to help you restore your athletic form after an injury:
- Focus on form: Pay attention to your running form and technique. Make sure you’re landing softly on the middle of your foot, taking quick, light strides, and swinging your arms for momentum. Maintaining good form will minimise the impact on your joints and muscles. If you need a refresher, you can find many video tutorials online for a proper running technique.
- Strengthen your core: A strong core is essential for runners. Focus on exercises like planks, bridges, and boat poses to improve your balance, stability and power. Strong core muscles will support your body during runs and help avoid injury. Try to do core work 2–3 times a week.
- Listen to your body: Pay close attention to any pain or discomfort and adjust your schedule accordingly. It’s normal to feel some soreness after a running break, but sharp pain is a sign you need to cut back. If your pain persists or gets worse, consult your doctor. Pushing through the pain could lead to re-injury, so be sure to take a step back if anything doesn’t feel right.
Starting running again after an injury requires patience and persistence. Start slowly, focus on good form, cross-train when needed, strengthen your core, and listen to your body every step of the way. With time and consistency, you’ll build back your endurance and be back to your usual running routine. Stay positive — you’ve got this!
Getting Back Into Running at 40: What You Must Know
To get back into running at 40 years, we recommend adhering to a solid routine and making adjustments where necessary. Also, ensure you increase the lengths of your workouts gradually while taking short breaks in between. At 40, your body may show increased resistance to getting back into shape, but with patience and persistence, you can reclaim your runner’s high.
If you’re keen on getting back into running at 40, consider these 4 tips:
- Start slow: As we’ve discussed in the prerequisite section, start slow and build up gradually. Don’t just lace up your shoes and head out for a 5K; begin with alternating between walking and jogging for just 15–20 minutes a few times a week. This will minimise injury risk and avoid burnout. Increase your time and speed over weeks and months as your endurance builds back up. You can also make use of our 4-week plan to measure your progress.
- Stay hydrated: Staying hydrated and fueled is key. Drink plenty of water and consider an electrolyte drink like HIGH5 Energy Drink before and after your run. Also, consider having a small snack with carbs and protein within 30 minutes of finishing your run to aid muscle recovery. This guide explains more on what to eat after running.
- Cross-train: Strength and cross-training are important for runners over 40. Add exercises like squats, lunges, pushups and other endurance workouts into your routine a couple of times a week. Also, try cycling, swimming or using an elliptical machine for cross-training. This provides conditioning without the high-impact stress of running.
- Take enough rest: Rest days are just as vital as workout days. Take at least 1 or 2 days off from running each week to allow your muscles and joints to recover. On rest days, do light exercises like walking, gentle yoga, or gardening. Get extra sleep, but limit alcohol intake and stay off your feet when possible.
The most important thing to understanding how to start running again at 40 is not to get discouraged. You may not be as fast or able to run as far as you could a decade ago, but you’re still lapping everyone on the couch! Stay consistent, set small, achievable goals, and celebrate your wins, no matter how small — you’ve got this!
Frequently Asked Questions
How to get back into running shape?
To get back into running shape, we recommend doing 2 to 3 short, easy runs weekly. Additionally, consider sticking to a 5K training plan for beginners, especially if you’re picking up running after a long break. Another approach is adopting a strategy that combines runs with walking breaks.
How quickly can I get back into running?
The time it takes to get back into running varies depending on individual factors such as fitness level, previous running experience, and any underlying injuries or health conditions. Typically, you can expect to get back into running in 1–2 months as long as you’re consistent with your plan.
When does running get easier?
Running typically gets easier as your cardiovascular fitness improves and your muscles become stronger. With consistent training and gradual progression, you’ll likely start feeling the benefits and experiencing increased endurance and ease of running within a few weeks to a couple of months.
What to do after running?
After running, it’s important to cool down and allow your body to recover. Stretching your muscles can help prevent stiffness and reduce the risk of injury. Additionally, replenishing your body with fluids and a balanced meal or snack containing protein and carbohydrates can aid in recovery and muscle repair. For the best result, you should always have a HIGH5 Recovery Drink to aid this process.
You’ve taken the first step — acknowledging that it’s time to get back to what you love. Running isn’t just exercise; it’s therapy. It’s a chance to reconnect with yourself, to push through mental and physical barriers, and come out stronger on the other side. And now that you know how to get back into running again, it’s time to put your knowledge into action — start slow, be kind to yourself, and build up gradually. The road ahead may not always be easy, but with each step you take and with a HIGH5 Energy Gel, your strength and motivation will return.