Running often leads to layoffs. It places high demands on your body and, unlike lower-impact exercise, it's not something you can do after a serious accident, illness or straight after having a child. As a result many running lives are characterised by layoffs and comebacks, which is fine as long as you handle the comeback correctly. If you've had a break, read our nine rules for a successful return and don't start running again until you meet all the criteria.
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1. Patience is a virtue
2. Question your motives
Just knowing your friends are hitting the track without you is enough to push you back early. If you're thinking of reasons why you should run again – your big marathon is weeks away, you miss your friends, you're gaining weight – then draw up a list of all the reasons why you shouldn't: your leg still hurts, you're tired, and you're not up to joining in a hard session.
3. Know yourself
Conventional fitness tests (such as a "bleep" test or VO2 max test) won't be much use unless you have pre-layoff results to compare them with. Instead, try to run a regular "easy" route from your repertoire, ideally with a regular training partner. If it takes you much longer than usual, or you have to stop, then you should act as though you're starting from scratch. It's better to be over-cautious until you can manage that easy run again without any trouble.