How I Returned to Running In My Late-30s (And Am as Fit as My 17-Year-Old Past Self!) Expedition Leader Asha

Expedition Leader Asha was one of the fastest runners in her cross-country team at 17, until she dropped the sport completely when she began her studies at university.

Due to an annoying injury and ‘all or nothing’ mentality, Asha didn’t run again for 20 years  – when she made an impressive comeback in her late thirties.

Now, the successful business woman and entrepreneur is as fast as her 17 years old self and has re-ignited her love for running. Asha ran her very first 10km at the Cancer Research UK London Winter Run and we are delighted to have her on the Expedition Leader team this year.

Find out how Asha made her comeback to running below, including tips for kickstarting your own running routine.

I tried nearly a dozen sports as a kid, but was never great at any of them. However, after joining a friend at his athletics club in my teenage years, I discovered the joy of running. I particularly loved running in nature and the buzz I got from competitions. At 17, I was one of the fastest in my team – I had finally found my niche! 

Right before university, however, I became injured and gave up the sport completely. I still did plenty of other activities (I was never one to sit still) and continued to have this drive well into my thirties when I started my own business and became an entrepreneur.

Then, in 2020, aged 37, the pandemic forced me to look at my health. With gyms closed and few options available, I decided to come back to running. Of course, I was very slow – especially in comparison to my younger self – but I built up slowly and found ways to keep myself motivated.

Now, almost 4 years later, and over 20 years since I first started running, I am as fit as I was at 17. I have completed five 10kms and become a member of my local running club, and this year I will take on my first half marathon.

Returning to running has made me realise how much I missed it, as well the numerous benefits of lacing up. If you’re thinking about making a return to running – or starting out for the first time – these are my top tips for getting back into running after a long break:

My Top Tips for Getting Back to Running

Tip 1: My first tip is to build up slowly. It’s perfectly fine to walk and run when you start running again, and it’s also fine to focus on time and distance as opposed to pace.

Tip 2: My next tip is to get dedicated running shoes that you use for nothing else except for going on runs. You can go to your local running store to do a gait analysis for free, or use the HOKA Shoe Finder to find the perfect pair here.

Tip 3: I’d also recommend using your fitness watch or phone to track your progress as you build up your running. It’s really inspiring to see where you start and finish over the course of several weeks, as long as you keep steady progress.

Tip 4: My next tip is to take recovery and injury prevention seriously. Before every run, do warm up exercises, and after each run, focus on stretching. If you own a foam roller, definitely use that, too!

Tip 5: My last tip is to join a local running club that caters to all abilities. That way you can feel like you’re making progress and friends along the way. If you don’t have a local running club you can join, consider joining parkrun – they welcome all abilities as well, including walkers, so you’ll never be left behind.

Thanks for sharing your tips Asha, and see you at the event!