Starting again - after 13 years

I thought I would add to my motivation by publicly stating that I am starting running again after 13 years away. I finally decided that I needed more than the odd game of five-a-side football and a bit of hiking and needed a healthier lifestyle than spending the week recovering from a heavy night out.

Anyway, has anyone got particular advice for someone who was a reasonably good runner as a teenager but who now has a mid-thirties spread?

I have made some half attempts in the past to get going again but it takes a while to get used to the fact that I can barely run half a mile at the pace I used to be able to run a 1/2 marathon and whilst my heart and lungs respond quickly to exercise, my legs and joints have not been so happy.

My plan is to target a certain level of fitness - say 5k inside 23 minutes and then join a club. Is this sensible?


  • Why not join a running club right away? Though I myself am not attached to one, from what I hear on these forums, most clubs are happy to take people of all abilities. So, no need to wait until you can run a 5K in a specific time. Plus, then you'll get loads of encouragement and camraderie from day one.

    Other than that, I would say don't rush into pushing yourself too fast/far too early. If you concentrate on regaining fitness slowly, then you are less likely to injure yourself.

    Also, why not find a local race and enter it? I find that nothing moitvates me more to get those trainers on and close the door behind me than the prospect of a race!

    Good luck and happy running. Let us know how you get on.

  • Hi

    Buy a training diary and fill it in each day

    Commit to some goals (ie total distance before Xmas / weight loss etc)

    Tell everyone who will listen

    Create a strong mental picture of what it wil be like when you have achieved your goals - refer to it each day

    Welcome back to running - good luck!

  • Forrest

    As a regular "restarter" I know how this goes. I ran a lot as a teenager and only on and off during my early 20's returning to running seriously in my late 20's before another gap of 7-8 years before starting again this year (I'm now 37).

    I can add the following advice.
    1. How quickly it takes you to get back will depend on what level of fitness you maintained over the last few years.
    2. Before starting out you would be well advised to have a full medical check up (including a biomechanical assessment if possible), so that you can start training with a clear mind and with with the correct equipment (a biomechanical assessment will assess what sort of shoes you need).
    3. Forget how you used to run!
    4. Build up very slowly - your enthusiasm and cardiovascular fitness will improve more quickly than you musculo-skeletal fitness. Add no more than 10% to your mileage each week.
    5. Try and be consistent - I find that running or exercising almost every day makes exercise into a habit, and then its less easy to give up. Having said that don't think its all over if you have to miss a few days - you probably need a more flexible approach than in your teens.
    6. Make it fun! Try and run off road as much as possible, this will ease the strain on your joints as you come back.

    Best of luck!
  • Forrest

    Sounds just like me

    I have committed myself to completing the 2004 London Marathon in under 4:22 to raise £20k for Hope for Children. I am telling people this quite publicly (even got some little business cards done up!) so I can keep my motivation going. (Even so it was a bit of a shock when the charity included a note in their newsletter!)

    I decided to do it in January (not a New Year Resolution)and set myself a target of running 10 miles a month through 2002, not alot by many standards - including my own old ones but enough to ensure I got out & didn't get put off. I didn't achieve it in the first month (although I did do a 6 mile walk too) but have done it comfortable every month since. I've created a very simple Word table to record each run (date, distance, time, route) and find that also helps to perk me up. I have also, for the first time, started entering local races - nothing more than 10k so far - to use them as more interesting training runs, far more fun than I expected & I've even got friends & family interested.

    Hope that something in this ramble strikes a chord - good luck

  • Yup all of those. I started running mid thirties, gave it up after about five years because I was afraid for my knees, and have come back to it after ten years, the last five of which I spent plagued by a slowly evolving paralysis that eventually left me walking only with the help of a pair of sticks.

    For motivation, can't recommend anything better than committing yourself in a very public way to run for a cause that you really care about. Get others to run for it too, and then you will have training partners. I've done this, and it's had quite a remarkable effect in focusing my efforts.

    Post your training in the training session. It really helps. I can't run with a club (none that will have me in my area) and it serves a lot of the same purposes.

    Go for it! Marj

    In my experience which is perhaps non-standard, targets in the early stages are particularly nice if you set them conservatively. (Say you are going to walk for a minute in every 10, and make yourself walk that minute. Say you are going to run 4 miles and don't run 6 just because you are feeling good.) Not only is it nice to achieve targets comfortably, it also prevents injury from over ambitious training.
  • Hmm, bring back the edit function. Somehow the order of the paragraphs above got scrambled.
  • Wow!
    thanks for all the advice and support. I have spent the last month combining running with sessions at the gym and some long-distance walking and have seen my heart rate fall by 10 b.p.m. I already feel better and more relaxed during the day. At the moment I only run once a week, usually for about 20 minutes.

    In the past I have built up to quickly - increasing by a mile each run in one case and ended up injured and frustrated.

    So a realistic set of goals would be a 5k race by the end of the month (not worrying about the time), 10k by the end of this year and a half marathon in the autumn of next year. I am currently 12 st 4, having been 12st 10lb a month ago and would like to get my weight down to around 11st 10.

    Oh yes, and I am seriously considering the 'biomechanics' assessment, if only to put my mind at rest and, of course, to save money in the long run on actually getting the right pair of trainers! Has anyone been on one of these? - what was it like?

    So thanks again, everyone. :-)

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