Return to Running Plan and Advice
Here's a really simple Return to Running programme. I used this to get back to running and a few patients have also tried it. We think it's great. If you only had a short time out of running due to a minor injury and just a few weeks off running then you can do alternate days to ramp up a little faster. If not - don't! Follow the plan religiously and you'll get back to running injury-free, by giving your muscles and joints time to get used to more running. You'll also have a solid build-up of cardiovascular fitness.
Tips to make the plan work for you
- The point of the plan is to get body used to the action of running. Alternating walking with running and progressively increasing how long you run allows you to increase the load in your muscles and joints at a sensible pace. This prevents the body from fatiguing from a longer, continuous run which the body isn't ready for, leading to an imbalanced gait pattern, strain on your muscles and joints and potential injury.
- Stick to a certain level if feel you're on the edge of injury until you can get through to next one without feeling as if something might tear/give way.
- Add an extra day for recovery up to three days if you need it. Don't go beyond 3, maximum 4 days or you'll lose the strength and fitness that you've developed so far.
- If you feel the plan is far too easy you can do days 1,3,5,7 etc but stick to the concept of the plan, build up over time, don't start doing much longer times or stop the alternating run walk approach or you may find yourself on the path to injury again. You might be fit enough to do 5k immediately but your muscles and joints may not be running fit if you haven't run much for a few months. Then you may well find you have the same issues you had before. I made this mistake about 6 times over the past three years! I don't recommend it! (It's easy to think you're still 18 when you are in fact middle-aged....)
- Don't change trainers midway. If you do have to change trainers, do the same day of the plan a couple of times to make sure your body is adapting to your slightly altered gait from the new shoes.
- You'll notice at certain points that you need to change your pace as your distances get longer. Don't try to run your 4 minutes at 1-minute pace. Your body won't like it. You can increase your pace once you've finished the plan.
- Going through the plan gives you a great opportunity to see what your natural pace is over different intervals. You notice how your body copes as you build up, and you can work out what pace suits you. This is interesting, enjoyable and builds running confidence.
- You may find that you enjoy running intervals as part of your running programme, or even find that you prefer intervals to longer distances, particularly if you did/do a sport that involves fast paced runs. Some people love continuous runs. Others find them too tough on the joints or a little lacking in interest. Once you've done the plan choose what works for you.
- If you want to increase your time or mileage running, for example to complete a 10k, half marathon or marathon, have a look at the Runners World website for training plans.
- If you want to do longer distances and also increase your speed over these distances, interval training and speed work is invaluable along with long, continuous runs. Again see the Runners World website for training plans.