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Here’s Exactly How to Start Running Again After Some Time Off

It’s not just the New Year when people are trying to find their workout rhythm again, but it certainly is a popular one. If after a few weeks of holidays and celebrating you want to jump back into a routine, do this first: Take a breath. A mistake many people…

It’s not just the New Year when people are trying to find their workout rhythm again, but it certainly is a popular one. If after a few weeks of holidays and celebrating you want to jump back into a routine, do this first: Take a breath. A mistake many people make is going out too hard, or too long, or too frequent, or too fast, which lands you nowhere but the couch with injuries. Here, Pete Magill, author of Fast 5K: 25 Crucial Keys and 4 Training Plans gives a three-week base-training plan to help you safely step back into running. Use this as your aerobic template, adding in one or two strength or stretching sessions each week to boost your results.

Download a copy of the 3-week Base Building Training Plan here.

Week 1

This “base training” phase is for runners who haven’t been regularly exercising for at least a few weeks. if you’ve been running a bit but not consistently, use this as a loose guide to help you ease in.

  • Sunday: Off
  • Monday: Walk 15-20 min. As the expression goes: “Walk before you run.” Walking strengthens muscles and connective tissue. So when you do run, you’ll be ready for it.
  • Tuesday: Off
  • Wednesday: Walk 15-30 min. Delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) tends to peak 48 hours after exercise. If you’re sore today, it may mean you walked too fast or too far on Monday. If that’s the case, do a little less or go a little slower today. (If the pain is really bad, take the day off.)
  • Thursday: Off
  • Friday: Walk: 15–30 min. Stick with walking. Your body needs to adapt. You can expect fortified muscles for your first jogging next Monday.
  • Saturday: Off or 15-30 min. of walking.

Week 2

Remember: One of the most destructive saying in fitness is, “No pain, no gain.” On the contrary, if your training is painful at this point, you’re doing it wrong.

  • Sunday: Off
  • Monday: Walk or jog 20–30 min. Include: 5 min walk warmup, then 10 × 30 sec. jogging surges, with at least 1 min walking in between. Don’t turn “ jogging” into “running” (or sprinting). You should be 100% comfortable during surges. Do not push it!
  • Tuesday: Off
  • Wednesday: Walk 15-60 min. No jogging today. Instead, extend your walk if your legs are feeling good.
  • Thursday: Off
  • Friday: Walk or jog 30–40 min. Include: 5 min. walk warm up, then 10 × 1 min. jogging surges, with at least 1 min walking in between. Be patient. In a little over a week you’ll be doing a continuous distance run.
  • Saturday: Off or 15–60 min walking. Two jogging sessions for this week are enough. Enjoy this walk.

Week 3

By this point, you probably want to run more. But if you can’t finish 10 reps on Friday, repeat this week until you can. Be patient. It’s worth it in the long run.

  • Sunday: Off
  • Monday:Walk or run easy 30–40 min. Include: 5 min walk warmup, then 5–10 × 2 min easy running surges, with 1 min walking in between. Walk for remaining time. Increase effort slightly from jogging, but you shouldn’t be breathing hard or in pain. Do as many reps as you feel comfortable with.
  • Tuesday: Off
  • Wednesday: Walk or run easy 30–40 min. Include: 5 min walk warmup, then 8–10 × 2 min easy running surges, with 1 min walking in between. Walk for remaining time. Complete at least 8 reps. If you’re sore or tired, you may have run too hard on Monday. Slow down the pace today.
  • Thursday: Off
  • Friday: Walk or run easy 35–40 min. Include: 5 min walk warmup, then 10 × 2 min easy running surges, with 1 min walking in between. Walk for remaining time. 10 reps equals 20 min. of running. A great build!
  • Saturday: Off or 15–60 min walking. Enjoy your last all-walking workout. This recovery session helps your muscles heal from the week by bringing them increased blood flow.

3-week base-building training plan