How to Come Back From a Running Break

Running Shoe Parts

I trained for months for my first half marathon, and though it wasn't a perfect race, I finished. Weeks later, I was diagnosed with an inner ear disorder that rendered me constantly dizzy. Because of this, I couldn't run for months.

At some point, an injury, sickness or other life event barrels through your training plans, setting you back two weeks, two months or longer. After having to sit out, getting the green light to return to the road and track is an answered wish for many runners.

But before you lace up your running shoes and try a six-miler around the neighborhood, here are some tips for making a solid, injury-free comeback.

More: 3 Common Running Injuries

The Guidelines

When you stop running consistently, your lactate threshold—the top end of your aerobic training zone—falls. That means your threshold, which may have been at 180 beats per minute during the peak of fitness, will drop and working out will feel harder at a lower heart rate.

This is why elite runners train at such high-intense levels: It's the best way to improve lactate threshold. It will take time to get this health stat back up to where it was before your running break.

The longer you ran before a break also affects your comeback. If you're a more experienced runner, your return to running will be easier because you've built a strong aerobic base.

Another important measurement for making a running comeback is VO2 max, which is your body's maximum ability to use oxygen during a workout. After a two-week running break, studies show that VO2 max only falls by 6 percent. After nearly three months without running, studies indicate VO2 max decreases by about 26 percent.

Generally, experts say it takes about two weeks of training for every week that you did not exercise to get back to normal fitness levels. It's also important to return to running slowly during this time to prevent injury.

More: Prevent Running Injuries for Life

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About the Author

Amanda Casanova

Amanda Casanova is a writer and journalist living in the Dallas, Texas area. She has worked for the Houston Chronicle, the Abilene Reporter-News and the Galveston County Daily News. She is an active runner and regularly competes in races in north Texas. She is currently training for her first half marathon. She blogs at and tweets at @acasanova10.

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