Rules of running: Returning from injury or pregnancy

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A healthy return to the sport after being sidelined requires patience, caution and smart training.

Recover properly

Cross-training keeps your heart and lungs fit as your body recovers. Start with activities that call for different motions to running (e.g. cycling) and progress to those that mimic running, but without the impact (such as aqua-jogging).

Break the cycle

See a running-specialist physiotherapist to determine why you got hurt in the first place and to craft a plan that will help prevent re-injury.

Try a test run

When you are no longer in pain and have the green light from your physio/doctor, attempt to run for 10 minutes. If it hurts, stop and wait for another three to five days before trying again.

Shorten your stride

A shorter stride and quicker cadence can reduce the impact of running, which may, in turn, decrease the risk of developing an injury. Aim for between 170 and 180 foot strikes per minute.

New mums, ease back in and eat up

The hormone that loosens ligaments to allow childbirth can linger in the body after the birth, leaving new mums prone to injury if they return to running too early. Wait at least six to eight weeks after giving birth before starting again. And bear in mind that breastfeeding mums need an extra 300-500 calories a day.

Feeling the pressure?

If life’s obligations have accumulated to the point where lacing up feels like just another stressor, it’s probably time to reframe your running. Ditch your watch, put ambitious time goals and workouts on the back burner and focus on running easy a few times each week just to de-stress. As long as you’re continuing to run regularly, it won’t be too difficult to jump back into more intense training when your life calms down.


These tips came from our expert panel:

Greg McMillan, world-renowned running coach and exercise physiologist

Frank Shorter, winner of the 1972 Olympic marathon and still running regularly at the age of 67

Dr Jordan Metzl, sports medicine specialist and author 

Dr Jim Afremow, sports psychology consultant and author of The Champion’s Mind: How Great Athletes Think, Train and Thrive (Rodale, £10.68)

Kim Mueller, elite runner, new mum and sports nutritionist