How to Start Running After Injury (or as a First Time Runner!)

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How do you start running, either as a first time runner or after an injury? Find out how to safely and happily start running on this edition of Running Coaches Corner, and join the link up!

Tips for How to Start Running after Injury (or as a First Time Runner!)

Start (and Stay) Slow: the Beauty of Run Walk Training and Easy Pace Runs

When I come back from running after injury, I start at a much slower pace than I had run at previously. I have also followed the run-walk method of running for a certain number of minutes and then walking for an interval for an amount of time (rather than necessarily keeping to a distance). This is just as much for your brain as for your body, as it provides the chance to get your mind engaged again and a recovery interval for your body.

Run-walk is a fantastic strategy if you have a past of injuries, are coming back from an injury, or simply want to go even farther that before! You know how the tortoise won the race? BE THE TORTOISE.

As I discussed in my post on my sacral stress fracture, I think that a major reason that I am getting hurt in the weeks and months following my marathons (as opposed to during the marathon training) is largely a result of the paces that I am running. During marathon training, particularly this summer, I was running much slower paces than I was accustomed to on account of my coaching duties. But you know what? Doing so kept me injury free from my return to running through to my stress fracture. Gentle training can beget successful training!

Learn to Distinguish Between Pain and Discomfort

Speaking of, if my post yesterday accomplished anything, it should be to demonstrate the line between pain and discomfort is thin but important. When you are lacing up your trainers and wondering how to start running again after injury, that line is even more vague but even more important.

Work to Combat Common Running Weaknesses

It goes without saying that the best way to run injury free is to prevent running injuries. When you start to run again (or for the first time), you will be especially vulnerable to many of the most comment running mistakes.

Running Form?

One of the first aspects of running that we at Chicago Endurance Sports cover with trainees is running form. In fact the first “workout” day is devoted to a Good Form Running clinic, where we discuss proper carriage, cadence, striding, and lean. Particularly if you are coming back from injury, your form is going to be very vulnerable to slipping because you are likely to be weakened due to disuse. furthermore, running form is one of the first things to suffer during times of fatigue, but small change in form, and re-engagement of critical running muscles, can drastically improve running economy and decrease risk of future injury.

Simple techniques such as how to re-engage your glutes can help you avoid injuries such as hamstring strain and IT Band issues!

Cross Training or Preventative Exercises?

Yoga has strengthened my stabilizing muscles from the feet up while spin like Fly Wheel and other cross training has helped me find lower impact ways of working on cardiovascular endurance and strength without stressing my joints and tendons. Thus I am able log far fewer weekly miles during marathon training than many runners but still have successful marathons.

Proper Nutrition?

Runners are notorious for eating donuts, pizza, burgers, and and chasing all the unhealthy things down with a beer. (and yes, I can be guilty as charged. Read: CAN BE) Sure, some runners are able to get away with terrible diets. However, not all runners have stomachs of steel and bodies of magic.

I place a huge amount of importance on nutrition and maintaining a healthy diet during marathon training. I may need to work on my post marathon plan, but my marathon training diet? Is on point. Here are some of my greatest pointers for marathon training nutrition and here is an example of my long run day diet during marathon training. I have even taken this a step further by enlisting the help of Certified Clinical Nutritionist in delving into my bone health as we work to prevent future bone-related injuries.

Post Run Recovery?

It should go without saying, but focusing on achieving optimal muscle recovery after your runs can be a critical factor in returning to running as well as staying injury free. Just because you aren’t running crazy long distances doesn’t mean that you can slack on looking after your body! NOW is the time to start your foam rolling practice, and by encouraging blood flow, breaking down scar tissue, and promoting equilibrium within the body, you will promote greater, more successful runs in the future.

Consult a Certified Running Coach and other Professionals

If you a) have major goals, b) are coming off of serious injury or c) don’t feel confident that you have sufficient know how (or even if your do!), I would highly suggest hiring a running professional to help bring you back to running or through marathon training. This isn’t to say that non-certified runners do not know a great deal about the sport, or that all certified coaches are experts, but coaches who have earned a running coach certifications through RRCA or USATF as well as other certifications (such as becoming a NASM Certified Personal Trainer) have demonstrated their dedication to the sport and to coaching. Do I know a lot about nutrition? Absolutely. But I am still seeking the help of professionals as needed.

Everyone has to start somewhere, and I would rather that you start out with strong foundations and proper training than to realize later on that your house is built on sand.

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