Return to Running: Easier Than You Think
Odds are that at some point in your life, you’re going to have to take time away from running. It happens to everybody. Maybe it’s the end of a long race season and you’re simply burned out. Or maybe you’ve just married and had children. Or sometimes, holidays just get in the way. Regardless of the reason, you’re not alone. But, fear not, because getting back into that routine or following that training plan again may not be as difficult as it seems.
LEARNING HOW TO RUN — Just like a student in medical school is learning about the human body and how it functions, every person out on the road is teaching his or her own body how to run. Within the Central Nervous System, your brain and muscles communicate through electrical signals going back and forth. This feedback loop trains the muscles, both skeletal and respiratory, to adapt to the demands of running. Think of it like this: With every workout you do, you’re banking up memory on how to run. Just as with every time you studied in college, you improved your knowledge of a particular subject, you’re improving your body’s ability to run.
Going even further than “training the CNS” is the fact that your body changes physiologically in response to running. The more you run and strengthen the muscles, the more nuclei they develop. The importance of this is that nuclei contain the DNA necessary and directly responsible for muscular growth. Now, here’s the real kicker…. Research shows that even if you quit running or exercising, these bad boys stick around. So, if you’re trying to get back into it after taking a long hiatus, you really are already one step ahead.
THE BODY DOESN’T FORGET — I have a lot of clients who ask me questions about the human body – how it adapts to certain exercise, the best exercise for this, the best food for that, etc. I’ve been out of school for over five years now, but I still remember the answers to these questions. My point is that, just like the brain remembers TONS of information, your body will remember how to run, and how to do it well. When starting back up again most runners will notice that, when compared to beginning for the first time, they are MUCH better. The active muscles have been trained before are able to perform well. The heart and cardiac muscles have been trained and do not become as stressed as before. Because of this, it’s fair to say that you can get in shape easier the second time around than the first time.
Think about this… How many times have you seen an athlete of some sort pick a sport back up after a long break? Many times it’s almost as if they never left. Now, sure, sometimes it’s because they’re just that good, but many times it’s because their bodies have been through the rigors before and know how to adapt. You are the exact same! You may never be able to run a 6:00 mile, but you can pick right back up where you left off. Just like you know what it takes, your nervous system and skeletal muscles know what it takes too, and they’re ready for the challenge.
All you gotta do now is get your butt up from the couch and get going!!
Post contributed by Brock Jones. Brock is Co-Owner and Head Trainer with BodyFIT, Inc. in Lexington, KY. He holds a Masters of Science in Exercise Physiology from the University of Kentucky and is an NSCA Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist. You can read more of Brock’s posts about fitness and exercise on the BodyFIT Punch Blog.