How to Come Back After a Long Break From Running

© Oleksandra Pokhodzhay |

I’ve had my fair share of injuries, burnout, and time off from running. Taking time off doesn’t have to be a bad thing. However, it’s important not to “just jump back in.”

If you were running 30 miles before your break, it’s a bad idea to jump into 30 miles again after.

Not only is coming back from a break physically hard, but it also is mentally challenging too. When we stop doing anything for a while, coming back can be a challenge in itself.

Here are a few ways to make coming back more enjoyable and fun:

Avoid doing too much too soon

This is one of the most critical aspects of “coming back” and running in general. If you jump into training too quickly, it will lead to burnout or an injury. Most training plans and articles suggest upping your mileage by about 10% per week. Don’t forget rest and down weeks too.

Believe me, I’ve been there with injuries and burnout far too many times to count. In this case, slow and steady wins the race.

Join a running group or find someone to run with

Finding someone with similar goals is a great way to come back to running and enjoy the process. You’ll feel more motivated to get out there and meet someone, plus it can be fun to experience the same thing with someone.

Your running partner or partners understand how you are feeling whether that is the highs running brings or the lows. They will understand the pain of running through the same elements or trying to stay consistent.

Plus, you might make lifelong friends that way! You don’t have to run with someone every day, but even running once a week can help mix it up!

Create a routine

Making running a routine makes anything including working out, much easier to maintain. If you schedule yourself time each week to run, you are far more likely to do it.

Whether it’s running in the morning, afternoon, or evening, create a routine you’re the most likely to stick too. There is no best time to run, it is just important to find a time that you will actually run!


One method to avoid doing too much too soon is to cross train. Not only does cross training allow you to build strength with other parts of your body, but it also helps you not come back too quickly.

When I came back to running last time, I walked and hiked instead of running every day. I also took at least one rest day per week, which I continue to do now even in my most significant mileage weeks. Find a cross-training activity you like whether that is going to the gym, spin, building strength, or hiking.

Pick a goal

Goals come in many shapes and sizes. Just be sure you are making a goal you actually want to achieve! Whether it’s a goal race, a weight loss goal, to run further than you ever have. There are no right or wrong goals, but goals help keep you focused.

Break down one big goal into smaller, more attainable goals. For instance, if you big goal is to run a half marathon, set a goal to run both a 5K or even 10K beforehand.

Having a goal can be motivating to help you stay consistent and come back stronger.

Don’t get discouraged

Coming back to anything after a break can be challenging. After my last break, my first 5k back was around 22 minutes. That was where I was at the time, and that is okay. We all start somewhere! Now after months of consistent training, I am back to running in the 18-minute for a 5K.

Don’t forget that progress is never linear, and you have huge fitness jumps, but you’ll also have setbacks, it’s part of the process.

How do you come back after a break?

Hollie Sick is an avid runner who’s completed more than 40 half marathons. Read her blog, or follow her on Facebook.

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