How to start running again after a long injury layoff

How to start running again after a long injury layoff

On this episode of RUN, we chat about how to start running again after a long break from running.

So if you've ever had to take long'ish break from running due to injury or something else, this is how to bounce back sensibly...

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Welcome back on to the next edition of RUN. I'm Brad Brown. We've got the coach Lindsey Parry with us once again Lindsey, welcome back. Nice to touch base.

Brad, how you doing?

Yeah very good, thanks. A great question in today. It's one that popped up in our forum. And I'm not going to ask the specific question because there were quite a few follow up questions asking the same sort of thing for specific cases. But it had to do with coming back after a long layoff, injury related layoff or could be just a, in my case, a lazy related layoff. But the question was, how do you come back, particularly if you had been running and running longer distances prior to the layoff? It's easy to get caught up in the excitement of being able to run once again or train once again, but you've got to really be careful. What's the best way to come back from a long injury layoff when you start up again?

So look, I've got effectively two little programmes, if you like, that I use, and one is, when we coming back from a long rest after really backing ourselves up, for example, racing a marathon really hard or doing an ultra, anything where you're still sore three days later. Then typically, what I'll do is rest anywhere between two and three weeks, depending on what time of year it is, and the damage done. And first run back, never more than 20 minutes, and 20 minutes, quite simply because anything that starts to hurt or if you feel any pain, within 20 minutes means that you're going to be a pretty short walk back to home. So you never going to catch yourself in a situation where you are 20 minutes from home. And then you think it's going to take forever to walk home so I'm going to run.

So if something hurts, we can shut it down and we go. And then over a period of two weeks, I'll essentially add between five and 10 minutes tops per run and get myself to within two weeks running around an hour with just over an hour. And from that point on, I would be fairly comfortable getting into a programme of course, I'd be mindful of what I'm training for and how much time I've got to train for it. So we're not going to jump into a three hour run. If you're coming back from injury, very similar, depending on how long you've had the injury for, that will determine how quickly we get back into normal training. But the same principle applies first run back is 20 minutes, always a standard 20 minutes, because I want to know if anything's going to hurt and if anything does hurt, I'm close to home so I can walk home.

The difference with the injury and particularly if it's a long injury layoff, which is the question that you asked, is that I'll probably then go through a period of four weeks where I will run every second day, run 20 minutes again and then after I've had two successful pain free runs, I increased the distance to 25 minutes and I'll have two successful 25 minute runs, then will move to 30 minutes. And again we just follow that process until you running for an hour pain free. When you're running for an hour pain free three to four days a week, that's when you can actually look at okay I'm going to start following a programme and set some goals and off we go.

And Lindsey, the danger is there particularly for someone who's maybe been training for marathons or ultra marathons and let's say they pick up a stress fracture as an example. And they're off for a prolonged period of time, your mind feels that you are mentally okay to come back and run almost the distances that you had been running before you picked up the injury. But the danger is there that if you come back too strong, you could re-injure yourself, the same injury or because you're favouring maybe that leg you're going into something else. So patience is key here.

Yes, exactly and so with the example of the stress fracture, if you've rested long enough, the stress fracture will be fine. But it's everything else around it and how long have you been out and if there was a lot of discomfort in the stress fracture early on, and you have upset your running gait then by starting too quickly, you are going to still start with that slightly compromised gait and put other structures under pressure and if it's more soft tissue, injury, ligaments, tendons, those kind of things. Then you absolutely are at risk of injury if you build up too quickly at the beginning.

Absolutely. Lindsey, as always great to catch up. Until next time from the two of us. Cheers.

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