Skip to Content

17 things you need to know before returning to running


Taking a break from running, whether it’s due to a busy schedule, injury, or you simply losing the motivation to run, returning to running can be a real confidence killer.

There have been many times when I’ve had to take a break from running. The thought of starting all over again can be daunting. 

You worry if you’ve lost all your fitness, losing all the hard-earned progress, or if you’ll even remember how to run again.

The truth is, getting back into running and regaining your confidence is possible – and in fact a lot of it comes down to mindset.

In this guide we’ll look at 17 things that you need to know before returning to running.

Disclaimer: Thanks to adidas for sponsoring this post!

returning to running

17 things you need to know before returning to running

1 – Tell yourself that it’s okay to start over

Lots of runners – from professional athletes to Parkrunners – start over. 

Sometimes we need to hit the pause button and that’s ok! 

The secret is to accept that it’s ok to start over. Whilst your fitness levels may not be where they were before, you will get where you want to be. 

Starting over doesn’t mean you’re a failure. If anything, any form of setback – whether an injury or life event – will make you stronger in the long run. 

Related: How to run a 5k in under 20 minutes

2 – Set SMART goals

When you do eventually lace up your running shoes and head out for a run, it’s important you don’t overwhelm your body from the get go.

This is especially important if you are returning to running following an injury or long break.

You won’t be able to run a half marathon straight away.

Start small then work your way from there. You may even consider using a programme like Couch to 5k to gradually ease yourself back into running. 

This will help to build your running confidence until you are in a position to take on longer distances.

Related: The ultimate couch to half marathon training plan

3 – Create a plan

A structured plan will help you track and manage your progress.

The Couch to 5k plan is a great beginner-friendly training plan. If you’re looking for something more advanced, then why not try a 5k or 10k training plan.

By mapping out your running schedule, you’ll have a plan to stick to which will in turn increase your motivation and accountability to run.

A plan is also a sensible way to train as it tells you when you should run and when you need to take a rest day to avoid overtraining and injury. 

Related: New year, new you: Try this 28-day beginner running challenge

returning to running

4 – Don’t forget to have fun

Remember why you started running in the first place. 

Was it to clear your mind, enjoy nature, or get that endorphin rush? Whatever the reason, focus on the fun aspects of running. 

Try new routes, run with a friend, or listen to your favourite music or podcasts. 

Making running enjoyable will keep you motivated and help rebuild your confidence.

Related: How to start running: 39 game-changing running tips for beginners

5 – Listen to your body

Your body is your best guide. 

Pay attention to how it feels and don’t push yourself too hard too soon. 

If you feel pain, take a break or switch to a gentler activity like walking or yoga. 

Gradually increasing your mileage and intensity will help prevent injuries and make your return to running smoother.

Related: The ultimate 8 week beginner 5k training plan: Week by week plan + printable

6 – Celebrate the small wins

Every run, no matter how short or slow, is a win. 

Celebrate those small victories. 

  • Did you run a little further than last time? Awesome! 
  • Did you manage to get out of bed early for a morning run? High five! 

Acknowledging these achievements will boost your confidence and keep you motivated.

Related: Half marathon training plan for beginners: Week by week plan + printable

7 – Join a community

Running with others can be a huge confidence booster. 

Join a local running club or find an online community where you can share your progress and get encouragement. 

Being part of a group can make running more fun and give you a sense of accountability.

Related: 12 trail running tips for beginners

returning to running

8 – Track your progress

Use a running app or keep a journal to track your progress. 

Seeing how far you’ve come can be incredibly motivating. You might be surprised at how quickly you improve. 

Tracking your runs also helps you set new goals and see patterns in your training.

Related: 7 essential running form drills for beginners to improve speed and endurance

9 – Don’t compare yourself to others

It’s easy to get caught up in comparing yourself to other runners, especially with social media showcasing everyone’s best moments. 

Remember, everyone’s journey is different. Focus on your own progress and celebrate your unique achievements.

Related: How to run a 5k in under 20 minutes

10 – Be patient

Regaining confidence and building your running fitness takes time. 

Be patient with yourself and trust the process. Some days will be harder than others, and that’s okay. 

Consistency is key, and over time, you’ll see improvement.

Related: 5 things I wish I’d known before returning to running

11 – Fuel your body 

Eating well and staying hydrated are crucial for running performance and recovery. 

Make sure you’re fueling your body with a balanced diet, including plenty of fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains. 

Staying hydrated before, during, and after your runs will help you feel better and recover faster.

Related: 101 thoughts every new runner has when running

returning to running

12 – Get the right gear

Wearing the right gear can make a big difference in how you feel during your runs. 

Invest in a good pair of running shoes that provide the support you need. 

If you’re looking to upgrade your running shoes, the Adizero womens running trainers are designed to make you faster and feel ready for race day.

  • The lightweight Adizero SL is a great daily trainer that helps you take their training to the next level.
  • Alternatively, the Boston 12 builds high performance race technology into a specialist training shoe. Suited for mid- to long-distance runs.

Comfortable clothing that wicks away sweat can also make your runs more enjoyable.

Related: Essential running gear for women: Must-haves and nice-to-haves

13 – Visualise success

Visualisation is a powerful tool. Take a few minutes before each run to visualise yourself running strong and feeling great.

Imagine crossing the finish line of a race or completing a challenging run. 

This mental practice can boost your confidence and set a positive tone for your run.

Related: How to start running again after an injury: 5 tips for success

14 – Learn from setbacks

Setbacks are a natural part of any fitness journey. 

Instead of getting discouraged, use them as learning opportunities.

  • Did you get injured? Maybe it’s time to focus on strength training or stretching. 
  • Did you miss a few runs? Reflect on what caused you to skip them and how you can prevent it in the future.

Related: 10 common running injuries for women and how to prevent them

returning to running

15 – Reward yourself

Give yourself some incentives to stay motivated. 

Treat yourself to a new running outfit, a relaxing massage, or a special meal after reaching a milestone. 

Rewards can make the journey more enjoyable and give you something to look forward to.

Related: The magic of the easy run: Why they are crucial for stronger and happier running

16 – Stay positive

Keeping a positive attitude is key. Even if you have a bad run or face setbacks, stay positive. 

Remind yourself of how far you’ve come and the progress you’re making. 

Surround yourself with positive influences and keep a smile on your face.

Related: 5 ways to achieve a positive mindset

17 – Embrace the journey

Running is not just about reaching the finish line; it’s about the journey.

Embrace every step, every breath, and every moment you spend running. 

Enjoy the process of getting stronger, faster, and more confident. 

Remember, the journey is just as important as the destination.

Related: How to run an 8 minute mile: 8 ways to run faster

Caroline Geoghegan