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Time to spring back to action: 5 ways to embrace running again

Finding the motivation to get out the door and run can be challenging at the best of times – never mind during this current sad excuse for spring. You're typically a consistent runner, get in a few interval or tempo sessions, and jump into some local races.

But over the past couple months, that extra day off turned into three, your long run became quite a bit shorter, and now you're a little flabbier. It's time to get back on track (without hurting yourself). Here, a primer from top running coach Dave Scott-Thomas:

Make it routine.

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Right now, putting your sneakers on is more important than how long or how fast you run. We have a saying in our running group: "Three miles is better than no miles," meaning just get out the door and take those first few steps. Your goal your first week back is to just do that two or three times.

Be good to yourself.

You can ditch the watch. It's important that your run be enjoyable, dare I say "fun." If you want to stop and stare at the sky in the middle of it, do that. Find a favourite trail, park or route. If possible, I'd suggest hitting grass or dirt to allow your legs to adapt to the impact.

Enlist a friend.

It's not that hard to find 20 minutes to get in a quick trot and satisfy yourself physically, mentally and socially. There's no need to discuss how hard it is, how sore you'll be, how unfit you feel … You're out the door and moving. Mike makes me laugh almost every run, and even if they're short runs, I always feel better afterward.

Try a little speed.

I don't mean cranking hard intervals; just 10 to 12 minutes with lots of rest (1:5 ratio of work to rest is fine). We often do short hills. You'll teach your legs to turn over, but without having to deal with painful lactic-acid buildup; and you'll find subsequent runs at your chit-chat pace that much easier.

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Set a goal.

It will give you a focus, and after a week or two of getting back into the habit you'll have enough time to get ready for your spring debut. The Toronto Yonge Street 10 K is coming up April 21. It's a generous (read, downhill) course that should have you licking your chops.

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