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A Safe Return to Running

I haven’t been injured bad enough to stop running in about 2 years (maybe more). Motivated by a combination of not recently being in this situation and, more than anything, the fear of re-injury I spent a little time reading whatever I could find on the ins and outs of returning to running.

Returning to running depends on severity of injury and length of time you’ve been out. A common rule of thumb seems to be 2 weeks. If you’ve been out 2 weeks or less with a minor injury you may not need to be as conservative in your return to hitting the streets (or treadmill). Regardless of time out and severity of injury a straight return to pre-injury pace and distance is risking another, possibly more severe, injury.

Are you ready?

My gauge in determining if I was ready was:

  1. pain free with day to day regular activities
  2. pain free form drills (march in place, running in place, high knees, butt kicks)
  3. pain free single leg squats
  4. pain free jumping on both legs and hopping on one leg
  5. doctor’s recommendation

How?

The “how” is slow and gradual. I mean really slow!As prescribed by the doc based on severity of injury, time off and pre-injury time and distance:

Week 1:  walk : run 1:1 ratio 45 minutes
Week 2:  walk : run 1:2 ratio 45 minutes
Week 3:  walk : run 1:3 ratio 45 minutes
Week 4:  run  30 minutes

I will run by feel and listen to my body. If I’ve learned anything this year it has been that my body is pretty good at telling me what I need to do (or not do) and I really should listen. I will reassess my plan after running, strength training,  physical therapy and at least 1 total rest day for 3 weeks.

If all is going well at after 3 weeks I’m going to do another baseline MAF test and plan a race calendar for the remainder of the year. Most likely focusing on short distance and trail events.

Avoid!

Slacking on PT. Past experience tells me I’m not a fan of PT for the long term. Initially I start off great but when I start feeling strong again I slack off maybe a little sooner than I should.

Post-injury comparison. No, I won’t be running fast, ultras or 25 mile training runs…for now. Don’t compare pre- and post- injury pace or distance. There is nothing to gain except frustration and being discouraged.

Go to RunningPhysio for more information and sample training schedules for returning to running after an injury.

As always, if a pain/injury persists consult your doctor or physical therapist for treatment.

My first run back could not have been more perfect!

Early Morning + Cool Temps + Blue Skies + New Shoes = Perfect Run

Workout Plan

Monday: Strength
Tuesday: Run, Abs, PT
Wednesday: Strength, PT
Thursday: Run, Abs, PT
Friday: Strength, PT
Saturday: Run, Yoga, PT
Sunday: Rest

Also this week, I’m going to try a pulse oximeter. It has been 1 year almost to the day since my first asthma attack and the lingering fear that comes with it.

A pulse oximeter is a simple, non-invasive devise that measures the oxygen saturation level in your blood. It is a small electronic device that clips onto your index finger and radiates infrared light into your finger. Commonly used in hospitals, the pulse oximeter is used to measure how effectively your heart, lungs, and circulatory system work together. It will be interesting to see what my oxygen levels are and, if nothing else, maybe a little peace of mind.

I was given the opportunity to try and review the Health-Ox Fingertip Pulse Oximeter by justnebulizers.com.

What’s your go-to return to running tip? Did you have perfect running weather last week?

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32 Comments

  1. It always feels great to get back to sports after an injury! However it’s always hard to resume things the way they were before the injury. For me, I had an ACL surgery about a month and a half ago and so am still recovering from that 🙁 And will have to keep on recovering for at least half a year or even more. That’s something really devastating for me, as I love being active. After I am able to use my knee properly again, I will have to once again start from point 0

  2. How exciting! Coming back after an injury is a great feeling. Our “great” running weather hit Saturday morning when it finally dropped from lows in the 80’s to 60’s. 🙂

  3. your smile says it all! SO happy that you are slowly getting back 🙂 Woohoo! awesome suggestions and tips for us all!

  4. I am really glad you are back to running, very excited for you!!!!! Injuries are just horrible, but being smart about them is the most important part, and it looks like you are being very smart!
    I had to make a simular decision last week, and even though their was a choice, I had to make the smartest choice for me, which means no running til maybe December, but on the plus side the doctors say, if I do this, I will be back to running eventually and will have a long career of it!

    1. Hi Kristy! “Long career of it” is so worth a few months off! Not easy but worth it.

  5. I’ve definitely learned that the slower you return, the better! I know you’ll be smart about it. So glad you can run again!

  6. Take it slow. That’s my tip. After taking 4 months off of running due to an injury a couple of years ago, I had to gradually work my way back to the point that I worked towards the months before I hurt myself.

    Happy to read that you had a great first run!!! 🙂

  7. Just found your website and happy to read this post. I’ve been training for a marathon and a month before the race (which is next week) my IT band started giving me (out of the blue) trouble . I now have not run for two weeks and it’s really tough, but I don’t want to do further damage. I agree with keeping up with the PT, and for me foam rolling every day. Not sure when I’ll be able to return yet. That’s great that you are able to get back at it! 🙂

    1. Welcome to Fitness, Health and Happiness! It’s tough but you’re being so smart about not running. Better to miss one race than to be out for weeks or months. Off to check out your apple crisp recipe 🙂

      You should join me for Fitness Friday!

  8. Great tips – I’m awful about rushing right back into running after an injury. Learning to listen and do a little better but….
    So happy that you are running again.

  9. I know how slow, slow really is, but I am doing it!
    Walking 2 minutes, running one minute,
    but it feels absolutely amazing to be out there after 17 weeks off!

    My best to you Jill!

    1. Crazy how slow, slow really is. LOL Not matter. Like you said it feels amazing just being out there!

      Best to you too 🙂

  10. I love to see someone return to running intelligently! So often I am cringing reading about people running x amount of miles the first week back–recipe for new or returned injury. You’ll be way ahead of the game with this approach!

  11. Look at you Jill!! You have your running glow on!!! I would say with my two returns to real running after my girls, my biggest advice (that I should take more often) is practice grace. I forget that I need to have grace with myself!

    1. Hi Nancy! Words can’t explain how happy I was. No words needed. Other runners just get it 🙂

      Grace with myself is even harder than run:walking. True story!

  12. I agree with that running equation of yours! So glad to hear you’re running again and thanks for the tips on getting back to it. I need them right now!

    1. Hope the tips help Tina! You’re going to be ready for race day. I just know it!

  13. Im no running help—-except a reminder…a living reminder we need to listen to our bods.
    (and our IT BANDS :))

  14. Those are great suggestions re returning to running. I have been injured, but I haven’t run in several months due to some minor pregnancy complications that made me quit earlier than I otherwise would have, then recovery from a c-section. I think I’m ready to try running again, though, so I might have to try your walk-run “easing into it” approach.

    1. Good luck Sarah! Everything I read and my sports med doc highly recommend run walk ratios.

  15. You look so happy to be back running! I’m sure you will regain your fitness before you know it. I started back with that same 1:1/1:2 ratio, and I swear by alternate days for a while too. Thanks for reminding me to avoid slacking on PT – I have been!

    1. Thanks Sherry. It’s been less than 1 week back and I’m already so tempted to run back to back days. Being patient is tough!

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