How to Get Back to Running – in 10,000 Easy Steps!

I used to be a runner. And a pretty good one at that when I was in high school. I had a number of good finishes in our school conference cross country meets, and I held my own when I ran in area invitational meets. I was pretty good, if I do say so myself!

But like many others before me, and after me, I started to get a lot of injuries which slowed down my running. I went from a runner who was starting to get attention from colleges as a Sophomore to someone who was happy to finish as a senior. Most of my problems were from my knee and shin, and even with rest and physical therapy, they were too much to overcome. So, I quit running!

Not only were injuries a problem, but another obstacle was life. College, career, family, etc… they all were hurdles to continuing to run. I don’t have any regrets about how things went, but I feel like something is missing. So, at the urging (I call it nagging) of my husband, I am going to start running again, with a goal of running in a 5k in a couple of months. But, where do I begin?

“runaway” by Ced is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

I used to consider myself almost a running expert when I was in high school. I used to be able to run, rest, refuel and run some more. But that was a lifetime ago, and I was uncertain where to start. So, I contacted my old cross-country coach. She gave me some good pointers on how to get started and how to curb my own expectations. After all, I wasn’t going to run a 5K in 18 minutes, instead I should just set a goal of finishing. And, that’s where I am at!

So, in addition to contacting Coach Bailey, I did some online searches. Runners World has always been a good source of information for me when I was a runner, and they had a good beginner runner guide. I may not be a beginner, but after being away for A LONG time, I was pretty darn close. After suffering through a ton of injuries during my running career, I was concerned about a Return to Running After Injury plan, and I was happy to get the information.

So, I’ve been back to running for a couple of weeks now and it’s all starting to come back to me. It’s a little different since I don’t have a team to run with any longer, but I’m coping. I’m starting to get back the great feeling of happiness after I ran. Whether it was a training run or a race, I always had a joy of my feet hitting the ground and running. It’s something that unless you are a runner, you are not going to understand – my husband and kids don’t!

In the past couple of weeks, I have gone from just a gentle run of a couple of miles to a little faster paced four-mile run. The time for the runs are not important, for me it’s the fact that I am completing them, and I am relatively pain free. With my injury past I am spending much more time on stretching before running. I am spending about 15 or 20 minutes on stretching various parts of my body, which is helping. What also helps is that after running I take about 10 minutes to stretch some more and do a light jog. I find Cool Running to have a really helpful page which talks about different stretches, and I have been using them.

One of the things that I really hadn’t thought about too much is running safety. When I ran before I was with a group. Now I am running mostly alone, and need to be aware of my surroundings to make sure I am safe. The Road Runners Club of America has a nice article that talks about different ways to stay safe while running – I know I’m following them!

My watch counts steps and tracks the distance I am traveling, and I’m happy to say that I have been hitting my step goal every day. Running is a great way to stay (or get back) in shape and is good for your overall health. Wish me luck, I’ve got to run!

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