Ready to Run

Caitlin Hard
Caitlin Hard Executive Assistant at AHS

Let’s face it, many of us are starting to go a little stir crazy being in our homes 24/7.

The current social distancing recommendations, coupled with Northern Virginia’s pleasant spring weather, have many people escaping their home-bound lifestyle by lacing up their sneakers and hitting the pavement. For some of us, it may be the first time we’ve exercised in very long while. For others, it may mean returning from a break due to an injury, lack of motivation, or work responsibilities that demanded your time. 

No matter what your reason for returning is, getting into running after a break can be challenging. But with some modified tips from Verywell Fit, we’ve provided some foolproof steps to help you ease back into running successfully, and without injury.

1. Make Exercising a Habit – If you’re not someone who regularly exercises, the thought of running every day may feel intimidating. Start small- set a weekly goal to run and/or walk on a regular basis- don’t worry about how far or how fast. Sometimes the hardest part is walking out the door.

Experienced runners returning from a break may also face difficulties when returning to their sport. Try to avoid setting high standards for yourself for pace and distance. Start with reasonable goals to run shorter distances at conversational paces. Returning to your old mileage patterns could cause injury, and you may not have the mental endurance to power through the workout, leaving you feeling discouraged.

2. Follow a Training Schedule –There are plenty of beginner training schedules available online for running newbies. Most beginner schedules are designed to prevent burnout and injury, and slowly accomplish your goals. Experienced runners may also find it helpful to ease back into running using beginner/intermediate running schedules to evaluate your body’s tolerance and performance. Verywell Fit suggests these beginner workouts:

4 weeks to run one mile for those brand new to running

4 weeks to run two miles for beginners who can already run at least a half a mile

5k Beginner Running Training Schedule for runners who can run at least one mile

3. Cross Train –with any sport, it is important to challenge and strengthen your body by switching up the type of exercise you do. For runners, you can increase muscle strength and endurance by cross training between runs. Activities like strength training, yoga, and Pilates aren’t limited to a standard gym environment; you can perform several workouts using personal exercise equipment, body weight movements, and/or items found in your home for added resistance (think water jugs, cans of veggies, or cat litter).

Here are a few at-home cross training workouts to get you started:

Full Body Dumbell Workout

Yoga for Beginners

At-Home Pilates for Beginners

4. Create an Accountability Group – enlist a few of your friends to hold each other accountable for your training. Currently, it is not advised to run in-person with anyone who does not live in your home. However, you CAN create groups on Facebook and share your schedules, goals, and accomplishments, or use devices like a Fitbit to track your workouts and challenge your friends. Live fitness platforms like Studio, Nordic Track, and Peloton are also great tools to virtually run with your friends in real time with the guidance of a virtual coach.
5. Consider Running a Virtual Race – once you are running consistently and feeling confident, you may want to switch gears and start training for a race. Due to COVID-19, some running events are being canceled or postponed, but many of them are offering VIRTUAL RACES. Families can run the route together, or complete the required distances and submit their times to receive their finisher prizes! Local running organizations such as Potomac River Running are offering several virtual events. The luxury of virtual races is that you can participate in races that may have been located too far away to run normally. You can find tons of virtual events, including COVID-19 relief races, here!
6. Stay Positive – We know, we know… easier said than done in a time like this. But take pride in your accomplishments, no matter how small! Now is a great time to reach milestones and work up to those PRs. Stay consistent and stay positive!
In general, take time to be thankful during this strange time we are experiencing…thankful to be healthy enough to run, thankful to have the ability to stay virtually connected with friends, thankful for accommodating weather, and thankful for the time to take up a new sport or return to a beloved one.

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