Injury. Shhh! Don’t say that word too loudly. It’s a word every runner tries to avoid. Sometimes, no matter how careful a runner you are, injury still occurs. Often a bag of frozen peas or an ice pack does the trick, but other times a runner will find himself off his feet for several days, weeks, or even months.
Returning to running can be problematic if a runner’s doesn’t ease back into it. Most runners hate being off their feet for just a few days much less a month or two, or three. Problem is that even though your mind is ready to get back to running your body may not be quite ready even when the doc says it’s okay to run again.
One common mistake runners make returning to running after an injury-layoff is trying to return to the pre-injury level. If you’re off your feet for a week or two, your body won’t really decondition that much, but it’s still a good idea to ease back into running. If you’re away from runnin a month or more, a runner will be wise to use the following ten-week retraining schedule and guidelines for a return to running after a prolonged layoff developed by Doug Lentz, C.S.C.S.
Lentz’s program allows time for the runner to ease back into running without the worry of reinjury or causing a new injury by doing too much too soon. The first week in the plan has the runner doing 50% of the pre-injury or pre-layoff base pace and mileage. So if the runner was doing 8:30 miles and logging 30 total mile before the injury, then he’d start back at a 17 minutes per mile and his total mileage would be 15 miles. So basically this first week, he’d be walking instead of running. Lentz says that high mileage runners will need to make so some adjustments. For example, someone logging 100 miles a week (pre-injury) probably shouldn’t do 50 miles their first week back, even if they’re basically walking it.
Use the following schedule to calculate each week’s pace/weekly mileage.
WEEK Pre-injury PACE Pre-injury MILE
1 50% 50%
2 60% 50%
3 60% 60%
4 70% 60%
5 70% 70%
6 80% 70%
7 80% 80%
8 90% 80%
9 90% 90%
10 100% 90%
By the time you’re ready to run week 11, you’ll be back to your pre-injury pace and weekly mileage. Many runners find that they’re often stronger and faster when they use a plan such as this to return to running after an injury-layoff.