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Stride by Stride: A Runner’s Spring Guide to Pacing Your Comeback

Spring Into Running: Getting Back on Track the Smart Way


With spring upon us, many of you might be inspired to start running or return to it after a break. If you've been off the running trails for three months or more, a walk-run program is a solid starting point. Even if you've kept fit with other activities during winter, running is a different ball game due to the impact on your tendons and bones. Starting with a walk-run approach is a sensible way to reintroduce the body to running.


Recognizing When to Increase Your Running Load


How do you know when to increase your running? It's time when your current routine starts to feel comfortable. One useful piece of advice from my past coaches is that your body may take up to three weeks to adapt to a new running load. This rang true for me, especially during my training for the Around the Bay 30k where I followed a training plan (from The Hanson's Marathon Method book) that introduced gradual increases to one of their key workouts, the marathon pace run. The beginning of the training cycle started with 6 miles at marathon pace and increased by 1 mile every 3 weeks until the peak at 10 miles. Sticking with the same marathon pace distance for three weeks at a time before adding mileage gave my body time to adjust without overwhelming it.


Guidelines for Progressing Your Running Routine


If you're beginning with a walk-run program that you do three days a week, start by gradually reducing your walk intervals and increasing your run time. Once you're comfortable running 30 minutes non-stop three times a week, consider adding an extra day to your running routine rather than increasing the duration of each run. This incremental approach can help avoid injury. As you start running more frequently, tailor your training to fit your race goals, whether it's adding one or two speed work days in preparation for a 5k race or increasing distance or adding a long run day for an upcoming marathon. Remember to keep your increases modest and allow your body three weeks to adapt to each new challenge.


Understanding the Nature of Running Progress


It's essential to realize that improvements in running don't always follow a straight line. Expect some natural fluctuations in your fitness journey. Normal muscle soreness is to be expected, but if you're sore for more than two days, it could be a sign that you've increased your training load too much. Sharp or persistent pains are a clear signal to take a few days rest before starting back at a lower load that you've tolerated in the past; next time you try to increase your training, don't increase it as much. Life can also interfere with training plans, but that's a topic for another day.


I Want to Hear from You


Let's make this a two-way conversation. How do you determine when it's time to push your running a little harder, and what signs tell you to hold back? Share your stories and insights in the comments below. Your experiences can be a valuable resource for fellow runners, and together we can all grow and improve in our running journeys.

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Unknown member
Mar 25

Thanks for this Liz!

Great advice. Looking to share this with my daughter. She has shown some interest in running and may start a program soon.

I often struggle with knowing when my body is asking for a break or when I am just sore from the increased mileage. One thing I have learned is that if the soreness affects how I walk for a full day (full day is key) I need a break. If my legs cause me so much soreness that I need to adjust how I walk, this will affect my lower back. If my back is affected because of soreness, a break is necessary, even if I don’t meet my weekly mileage goal or have…

Unknown member
Mar 25
Replying to

Thanks for this message ❤️

I love how you figured out what your body is trying to tell you. It’s definitely not easy and I still sometimes have a hard time figuring out if my body needs a break or am I just having an off day/week. I guess we just have to expect that it’ll always be part of the process when we’re exploring our limits.

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