Getting Back Into Running

Running was my sport until roughly twenty years ago when i had to stop with on going knee issues. Since then all i have done is cycling, using TR for the past ten years and have good fitness as a result. I now want to get back into running while continuing with my cycle training. I have tried a couple of times but had to stop due to niggling pains that i didn’t want to aggravate. I have decided to invest in a treadmill to enable better control over injuries. I’m not intending to be competitive but i do want to enjoy running at a reasonable pace. I’m not exactly starting from the “couch” at 5’6" and 53kg but i do want to approach this cautiously to avoid injury. Can anyone recommend a suitable training app or similar programme that will ease me back into it as I’m concerned that I’ll go at it too hard and end up where i was twenty years ago.

Just do any couch to 5k plan from the Internet

Granted however i would like to hear from personal experiences.

Back in college I had an injury that took me out for 6+ weeks in a boot. Coming back I started with running 1 mile, day off, 1 mile, day off, 1 mile day off, for the first week. The following week added a half mile to mile, following the same pattern til I could run 3 miles without pain with days in between. Then I worked on running 2 days in a row with a day off in between. It took most of summer to build up to where I was able to train full time again but by season’s end I got most of my fitness back and was injury free.

Fast forward 20 years… While out on a run my calf really tightened up (an old injury that has never gone away) and ended up walking home. After some time off I started up easy with jogging 1 min, walking 1 minute. I did that for 20 minutes with a day off in-between like I did in my college days. When I could do it pain free I upped it to 2 min running, 1 min walking. I did that til I could run 20 min straight pain free, then slowly built up the length of my run. Years of 80-100 mile weeks have taken their toll. Not that I’m hobbling around but these days my body tends to max out at about 45-60 minutes and at most three times a week. Since I found the bike, which I love because the lack of impact, has been huge.

Starting back up I’d begin slow and easy. Start with 1-2 runs a week and gradually increase volume. Don’t worry about intensity. Start under what you think you can do, even if it feels really easy. Give your body time to adjust. And keep on biking!

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Thanks, sounds like a sensible approach as opposed to trying to follow a structured plan. I just want to mix it up a little with the cycling, that will remain my primary activity. I have to just forget how i used to run and listen to my old bones.

I’ve given up running at various times for periods from 6-24 months. I’m back running at the moment. As a 44 year old, I find the hardest part going back is to take it up slowly enough. What I mean is, with a great aerobic engine from the bike, I could probably run 15 or even 20k straight away if my life depended on it. However I wouldn’t be able to walk for a week as the impact is so great on legs. So the challenge is to go slower, shorter and less frequently than you feel able to starting off and even for an extended period.

Currently I’m running around 3 times a week, something like one 5k, one 8k and one 12-15k. I started back last August, jogging for about 1-2k walk/jog, every 3 days or so, at a very slow pace. By October, or 8-10 weeks in, I was jogging around 5k every 3 days or so, at a reasonable pace.

It’s going to be really important to take your time and skip a session if you’re not recovered 100% (or at least 90%). If you start a run and can feel a jiggle in ankles, knees, hips - just call it and end it there. It’s really easy to injure yourself with too much volume or speed that your body isn’t ready for. Remember that in a worse case scenario you could be off the bike as well if you get an injury.

Patience, patience and more patience and you will get there!


Thanks Sten.
Patience is definitely the key. I have to completely ignore how i used to be able to run and start from scratch. The good thing about using the treadmill is i can stop any time without the walk of shame back home if i feel any pain.

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There’s no shame in walking home if your Spidey sense feels a strange niggling in your leg. You’re still outside in the fresh air and still getting the benefit of the exercise but with no impact. If anyone drives past and sees you walking then they don’t know that you haven’t just killed a massive interval set. :grinning:


:grinning: true enough

IMHO if you’re dealing with injuries and/or coming off an extended break there’s some benefit to doing so based on more general goals with some flexibility in mind vs following a specific plan. (Especially because it sounds like running performance isn’t high on your list of priorities and you’re likely doing a reasonable amount on the bike already)

Consistency is as always a good place to start- generally speaking I’d recommend 3x short runs a week to begin with, and maybe add in a fourth before progressing the length of 1-2 of those.

Some other general advice-

  • always err on the conservative side when it comes to progression- you can get away with a lot less here running compared to cycling.
  • see if you can identify any potential factors that aggravate the issue- hills/flats, certain types of shoes, freshness/fatigue. tight spots etc.
  • a run/walk strategy can be helpful in easing the transition and impact initially, even if you have the fitness to run without breaks.
  • some running stores will offer gait analysis/shoe fittings which might be of help, as might be a consult with a good physio.
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The main objective is just to add some load bearing exercise to the cycling as I’m concerned about bone density as i get older, I’m 55 at the moment. If i find i can eventually run without injuries i may consider trying to train harder however the bike will always come first. I’m so used to structured training now that it’ll be strange just seeing how it goes at first and just going by how i feel.

Jonathan has talked about this on the podcast a few times. Cyclists have the fitness to go out and slam a 7 mile run right out of the gate but they certainly should not do so. He recommended one mile easy the first time then slowly building up. I usually start with 15-20 minutes easy but same principle.

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My understanding is that the studies are now showing that for cyclists, it’s not the lack of load bearing exercise that is leading to osteopenia but rather the chronic calorie deficits. They also see osteopenia in elite runners. It’s basically any endurance sport where the power to weight ratio is favored. The way to attack this is with resistance training, adequate protein, and not running chronic calorie deficits.

Back to running. I’m 56. I took a break from the bike for the last six months and have been running and doing some light lifting plus XC skiing and snowshoeing since it’s now full winter here… Getting acclimated to running has been an extremely slow process.

As mentioned above, I did run-walking. Along with about 4 hours per week of walking, I’d also do 20-30 minute run-walk workouts. Literally, 10x1 minute of running withing a 20-30 minute walk was enough to leave me sore for days when I first started.

I’d recommend that you start in that ballpark, keep the frequency high. Do it every day or every other day to start. If you get too sore, take a couple of days off.

It’s been six months now since I started and I can jog a couple of miles continuously without feeling wrecked. Still, 30 minutes of continuous running leaves me about as sore as a 2+ hour endurance bike ride.

I like run-walking. Run-walking is the only way I can stay at my zone 2 heart rate. If I run continuously, I’m quickly at tempo/sweet spot heart rate.


That’s interesting on the bone density. To be honest i haven’t researched it recently, I’m only going on the common belief that it’s the lack of load bearing input through the bones that’s the issue. My recent attempts at running outdoors have been a two mile run at around 9:30 mile pace and i was left with a pain down one leg so i gave up on the idea. I’m hoping that the cushioning of the treadmill will reduce the risk of injury but i will approach it very easily as you suggest.

Stick with it. Your legs will (slowly) get used to the new impacts. I didn’t start running (or cycling) until i was 45. I’m now 52 and still going well.

A good recommendation i was given a few years ago by a very expensive foot doctor i was visiting when sidelined by plantar fasciitis was to use Hoka shoes. I said “I thought they were only for slow people” to which he replied "well, how fast are you running at the moment?..) I’ve sworn by them ever since.


+1 on Hoka. Hoka Bondi 8 and Hoka Ora Recovery 2 (to wear at home) have been instrumental to my ongoing recovery from plantar fasciitis. This is after running several years in minimalist shoes.

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We’ve got a house full of Cliftons, Mach 4 and Challenger here. I have about 4 pairs online and 2 spare on my shelf. My wife has 2 on the go and my daughter has another 2 pairs.

I wish i’d bought shares in them :slight_smile:

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My coach works with a lot of runners, and when I was gearing up for my cx season, he largely gave me much of the same advice about running as mentioned above. Most specifically, he noted that a strong cyclist will have the aerobic engine to be able to go and run anything from 5-15km straight from the couch, as it were (assuming the route is fairly flat), but that your joints and connective tissue will absolutely not thank you for it. Running off-road can help with this, but you still won’t be able to jump straight into it, and watch out for steep hills and rocky bits: walk them!

He advised any couch to 5k program, and suggested that the actual training load increase for someone already pretty fit would be fairly negligible. When 5k is straightforward, then is the time to consider balancing running/cycling load if the former is something you want to pursue.

From a strict health and longevity perspective, the same coach advocated 3 rides per week (1 long and easy, 1 short and hard/intervals, 1 short and easy), 2 runs (1 long and easy, 1 medium length and intensity) and 2 x 30-45 minute weights sessions. When I’m in my late 50s, that’s something I can see myself doing. However, he did point out that this is not what he’d prescribe for someone looking (within reason) looking to maximise cycling ability for their main sport.

Perhaps slightly OT, but I have noticed significantly fewer aches and pains both on and off the bike after 4 weeks of a daily stretching program (10-12 minutes per day), with 3x20 home resistance workouts per week. I think I’ve learned the hard way that those things are really important as one gets older. I’m 41, which is not really old at all, but equally, various things have made it clear I’m not 21, either, and trying to act/train like it invariably ends badly!


Have a search on the forums in the running threads for 2022 and 2021. TR Running thread 2022 TR Running Thread 2021 and 2020 & 2019. Lots of useful information there over getting back into running. My experience also in there, had to give up for many years due to two knee tears. Running was just a no no, knees would always swell up and be very painful after 1 or 2 sessions. So took up cycling. Other half went out running and I just wanted to do the same… Five years later went down the minimalist route in an attempt to run again. Ideas of strengthening the feet, take impact away from knees etc and it has worked for me, though it took a good year to get there, starting with walk/run/walk sessions. I’ve got my second Ultra in the Snowdonian mountains in May. Haven’t had any injury that has stopped me running in 18 months, that’s since I started up again, good luck…

Edit: This worth a listen, cushioning doesn’t always help as the foot searches for hard ground so impact could be greater… Run to the Top Podcast | The Ultimate Guide to Running: Has Our Footwear Outgrown Our Feet? The Evidence Behind Barefoot Running - Dr. Irene Davis I guess for every one who has an experience like mine someone will have the opposite. We are all different. During winter I’m currently doing half of my runs in Vibrams Five fingers and half in Altra Olympus 4s, because in ultras I’m not allowed the VFFs… so have to get use to the Altras… but they also keep my feet warmer as it’s winter/wet & cold here…


I can recommend doing some brisk walking (10-12 min/km) especially on undulating terrain. Gets the HR into mid-upper Z2 and provides some bone impact with low injury risk.

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