I’ve spent much of my running days just trying to get back in shape. Whether it’s after a long season or because I came down with a running injury, I know a thing or two about getting back into running shape.
It’s because I’ve spent so much time out of shape that I know how to get back in shape. If you see it as a process – a journey – rather than a chore, you can find quite a few bright spots that can help you stay the course even when times are tough and challenging.
Are you starting from the way, way beginning? Here are some real easy, simple tips for you to get started without getting banged up and forced back on the sidelines.
- Get proper running shoes from a legit run-specialty shop.
- Run slow. The slower you run, the easier it will be for you to recover. When in doubt, go slower.
- Ask questions.
- Add mileage slowly. There is no prize for adding miles to your week that you aren’t prepared to handle.
- Use cross-training. Cross-training will keep you healthy as you build up your cardiovascular system.
Just taking a short break from running? Good for you. I LOVE time off after a well-earned season. Here are some tips for you to quickly reignite the fire.
- Build a running routine (strength, stretching, recovery). Adding these in will not only keep you healthy but make you stronger and faster.
- Bring the fun back to the run. Find a new challenge to work towards.
Importance of Getting in Shape
Depending on how out-of-shape you got will determine how quickly you get back into shape. Other factors come into play, like how often you can devote to running and cross training.
For some, it takes only a few weeks to feel fit again, while other people may feel like they are still slogging through runs after a month. Again, a lot of factors go into how long it takes. Each runner is different and responds to training differently. If you still don’t feel like you’re in shape after a month, you might want to take a second look at the training you’re doing to see if there is anything glaring.
Getting in good cardio shape (running or something else) is really good for your cardiovascular system. A stronger, more efficient cardiovascular system is beneficial to you because it is a measure of how efficient your heart can pump blood to your different organs. Being more efficient means you can do more work using less energy. Overall, being in better cardiovascular shape reduces serious health risks too, like heart disease and high blood pressure.
Getting In Running Shape
More than we’d like to admit it, we think we can get in good running shape overnight. That once we decide to start running, it’ll be smooth sailing and in no time we’ll be crushing workouts and racing at our best. I hate to break it to you, but that’s probably not going to happen.
What’s more likely to happen is you’ll have ups and downs; setbacks and triumphs along your journey. However long it actually takes you to get in good running shape, here’s what I do to get in shape and then what you can do to mimic what I do.
How Coach Marc Gets In Run Shape
- Slow and Steady.
My first two weeks of running after a break are SLOW. I practice patience and try and finish every run saying “I could run 2 more miles”. Why? Because it keeps my run’s effort level low and also leaves me feeling like I could do more. When I feel I can do more, I’m way more likely to get back out there the next day.
- Expect Small Gains.
The road to running fitness is NOT a straight line. There are setbacks and twists and turns that you don’t expect. The process is long and winding, so to think that a few runs will put me back in PR shape is just not realistic.
- Recover, Recover, Recover.
I spend so much time recovering from a run when I’m getting in shape. I have to! Think back to the first few long runs you do – I don’t know about you, but all I want/need is a long nap. Fast forward to the middle of your season and you can do a long run feeling like a champ for the rest of the day. I spend the first few weeks getting in shape sleeping more, eating healthy, using my massage gun, foam rolling, and stretching way more than any other time during my running season.
- Mix It Up.
I know that running every day isn’t what’s best for me, so I add in strength training and cross-training the best that I can. If I have access to a pool, I’ll swim. If not, I jump on my bike to supplement my running. And I take my recovery days seriously. I build them into my training plan and maximize their effect [morning run, day off, night run] to give me closer to 60 hours away from running.
- Set Routines.
Being a runner is much more than just lacing up your shoes and running. The beginning of a running plan is a GREAT time to add in stretching (before and after a run), adding strength training, and having a hydration plan. When you’re in the thick of training, these routines you built early on will become second nature and you won’t have to think about doing them.
- Show Patience.
Patience should come as no surprise. There is no pill you can take that will get you in shape quickly.
TrainwithMarc’s Newsletter – New post every Friday
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What You Can Do to Get In Run Shape
- Start small.
There is no rule book that says you have to run x number of miles in x number of days. You need to do what’s right for you. That might be 1 or 2 miles 3 times a week. For others, it might be more, but the point is, what’s good for someone else might not be good for you.
- Treadmill, track, roads, trails.
Switch up where you run. Different surfaces and locations can get you excited about running. Always running in the same spot on the same surface gets a little boring and monotonous after a while. Not only that, but different surfaces provide a variety of stimuli for your body.
- Easy paces.
The slower you can go while still feeling like you are accomplishing something, the better. Why? You’ll recover so much faster and be more likely to complete your next scheduled workout.
Use simple and easy workouts to boost your fitness. The easy and simple workouts will allow you to focus on the running instead of the training.
- Use a calendar/schedule/training log.
A calendar or training log will keep you on track and you’ll be able to see what you’ve done.
- Ask a coach for a plan.
A plan is the best way to ensure that you’re not only getting quality workouts for you to do, but you’re also getting help from a qualified coach who has your best interest in mind. A coach is there to help guide you from your beginning through the ups and downs.
For some of us, we can be in really good shape in no time at all. For others, it seems to take forever. If you follow the simple strategies I outlined above, you’ll not only get in good running shape, but you will set yourself with good routines, a solid foundation for fast running, and the drive to keep up your running for the long term.
Use these 12 tips from #TrainwithMarc to get in good #running shape in only 30 days!Tweet
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Marc is a USATF Track and Field & Dr. Jack Daniels VDOT O2 certified running coach. I have more than 19 years of experience running and more than 10 years of experience coaching runners. Click for more information!
Marc is a middle school teacher and coach but also works with distance runners online. I help distance runners around the globe by providing support, writing customized training plans and designing workouts to help them reach their racing goals. I write for my blog every Wednesday morning and newsletter every Friday morning.