The Best Way To Start (or Restart) Your Running Routine

It’s hard to believe that it’s been a year and a half since the COVID-19 lockdown sparked the running phenomenon. With the change in seasons approaching, you may be thinking about taking up running again or starting your running routine for the first time. If the idea of starting or restarting a running program is intimidating, follow these tips to ensure a safe, pain-free running experience.

Tips For New Runners

Running is just like anything in life – it takes practice and patience to improve. While you’re in the early stages of developing your ability to run, start slow and gradually increase your running time. Following these guidelines over the course of nine weeks will help you prepare your body to start a more extensive running routine.

Tips for Returning Runners

No matter the reason why you stopped running, returning takes time and patience. Using the guidelines for new runners, complete each level a minimum of two times before progressing up a level.

5 Rules for Managing Pain

  1. On a scale of 0-10 where 0 is no pain and 10 is the worst imaginable pain, keep your pain at less than a 5 during your running and for 24 hours after.

  2. If you are experiencing pain while running, try to modify a variable you can control (decreasing your speed, stop and stretch, walk, change your surface, check your mechanics. If your pain decreases, continue as tolerated.

  3. If your pain increases during your run and progressively gets worse, discontinue your run.

  4. If your pain level is low and stable during your run, continue. Make sure that your pain doesn’t linger for more than 24 hours after your run. If it does, wait for the pain to decrease and do not progress to the next level until able to complete runs without experiencing pain more than 24 hours. This may even mean you step back a level.

  5. If you find your pain is causing you to change mechanics, having to be controlled by medications, keeping you up at night, or consistently lasting more than 48 hours, contact a physical therapist.

Keys to Success When Starting (or Restarting) To Run

Try to build a rest day between each run. Overtraining can leave your body in an unhealthy state where it becomes even harder to run or walk without pain. Taking a rest day in between running days helps your muscle recovery and gives your body the time it needs to process the work you’ve done. You can fit in some light cross-training on those rest days like walking, stretching, or yoga. Listen to your body and be patient, as you may want to be as active as possible, but your body might not be able to catch up with your mind.

Spend some time warming up and cooling down. Protecting your body is important as you want to prepare it for success. A few minutes of dynamic stretching before your run goes a long way. Some of our favorite stretches include walking lunges, toe touches, and high knees. Then when you’re finished with your run, spend a few minutes walking to let your heart rate gradually go down. Using a foam roller on your calves, hamstrings, quads, and hip flexors will help decrease your risk of soreness so you’re ready to get moving the next day.

Wear the right running shoes. Believe it or not, your shoes can make or break your experience with running. When you’re starting a running program for the first time, make sure your shoes fit correctly and that they offer support for your feet. For more experienced runners, rotating between two pairs of running shoes can help extend the life of the shoes and decrease your risk of injury while you run.

Keep your effort less than 4 on the Rate of Perceived Exertion Scale. We use the RPE scale to measure the intensity of your workout. While you’re starting or restarting your exercise routine, keep your effort at a light to moderate amount of exertion so you can protect your muscles. A good way to tell if you’re at light to moderate exertion is the talk test - you should be able to talk, but not quite sing while exercising.

Download our Return To Running Program. Print, download, or view this information in an easy-to-read guide here.

Physical Therapy for Running

Whether you’re looking to start or restart a running routine, a physical therapist can help you safely reach your movement goals. With multiple locations serving Rhode Island and southeastern Massachusetts, the physical therapists at Performance Physical Therapy are ready to help you get moving better, faster. Call 401.726.7100 to schedule an appointment with a physical therapist in Rhode Island or Massachusetts.

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