Tuesday Workout(s) of the Week: Comeback Kids

You’ve been injured. Or you’ve been away from exercise for a while (work, school, a pregnancy, family stress…). Whatever it is, your body isn’t 100% quite yet. But it isn’t 0% anymore, either. You’re ready to get back into the game. Slowly.

Today’s post is for you. It’s all about getting back on the horsie.

Back on the horsie. These workouts are your gift today: ideas for getting moving even when you're not quite at 100%. YET. (Image courtesy of Boians Cho Joo Young at FreeDigitalPhotos.net)
Back on the horsie. These workouts are your gift today: ideas for getting moving even when you’re not quite at 100%. YET. (Image courtesy of Boians Cho Joo Young at FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

I’ve been running for a decently long time: long enough to have had my share of injuries. Plantar fasciitis, shin splints, a wonky knee, sciatic pain in my hip because of a funny twisty thing going on in my lower spine…it’s all shown up at one point or another. All of those ailments required the care of a doctor or physical therapist. (A chiropractor saved the day with the hip pain.)

But after the doctors have signed off, it’s time to get back to business with physical activity. Where to start?

Here are just some of the ideas I had to put into practice while all of these injuries sorted themselves out. Be sure to check with your health care professional before trying any of these activities (and do have a sports medicine doc on your team if you can; they “get it” about runners who are chomping at the bit to get back out there running). And, duh, remember that this site (along with every other site out there) is NOT a substitute for medical advice, ever.

To the workouts!

Challenge: Running is painful. But I need to get in a cardiovascular workout.

Solution: Swimming and pool running. Just move in that there pool, for 30-45 minutes or so. For a while I was alternating fast 25-yard laps with slower 25-yard laps; then I warmed up with laps in the lap pool and then did some (exceedingly boring, I must admit) pool running with an Aqua Jogger belt strapped to me.

Challenge: Running is painful, and I don’t have a pool, or I think swimming is seriously boring.

Solution: The bike. Start slow. I rode an indoor bike for all of 30 minutes once this week: 5 minutes easy-peasy pace, and then 25 minutes keeping the RPMs right up around 90, at a gear level that made it feel hard-“ish” but not too hard. Sustainable, in other words. And sweaty within a few minutes – a good marker for a strenuous workout.

Challenge: I’m back running, and I want to increase distance, but I haven’t run long for a couple of months.

Solution: The long-“ish” run. Yesterday’s workout was a good example. I’m trying to get in half-marathon shape for October but I hadn’t run more than a couple of miles without walking breaks for almost two months. Yesterday I completed 7.5 miles like this: 5 miles at super-easy pace (how I monitor that: I listen to mellow music while running my easy pace because faster music makes me want to go, well, faster!). Then, a 2-minute walk break. Then, 5 minutes running at easy pace.  Then, another 2-minute walk break. Keep up the 2 walk/5 run pattern for the last 2.5 miles. It adds 10 minutes or so to the workout, but also takes a ton of stress off your legs.

Challenge: I want to cross-train, but biking and swimming aren’t doing it for me.

Solution: My secret 30-minute rowing workout. Actually, it’s a secret “every single kind of cardio activity in the world” workout. I call it the 1-2-3-4-3-2-1 and it’s super simple. First, warm up at an easy pace for 5 minutes. Then, 1 minute hard. Then, 1 minute easy, Then 2 minutes hard, 1 minute easy, 3 hard, 1 easy, all the way to 4 minutes hard…then back down the ladder. Always have 1 easy minute between each “hard” segment. Then after your last hard segment of 1 minute, do 3 minutes easy. That’s a total of 30 minutes – and it’s a great cardio workout when you don’t have a lot of time.

There you go: just a few ideas for getting started with movement again after a layoff. These WOWs (workouts of the week) will do the most important thing: get you back out there. Then, as your body gets stronger, it will start telling you what it wants to do…and that is a fabulous thing.

Yesterday’s Every48 workout: A nice 7.5-mile RUN: 5 miles easy, then a 2 minute walk/5 minute run pattern for the last 2.5 miles. Getting back on the horsie, indeed!

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