(5 customer reviews)

BEST FOR: Runners who have been sidelined for 2 months or more and want find their running legs again
PREREQS: Approval from your doctor or physical therapist to resume a weight-bearing activity. The ability to walk briskly for 60 minutes without pain. This demonstrates that the site of injury or bone can handle the impact forces of running. (See FAQ below for more details.)

If you have had a long-term injury or illness, are postpartum, or simply hit a roadblock in life or motivation, this is an effective, safe, and fun program to find your running groove again. You’ll spend 12 to 15 weeks–you go at the pace that works best for your body—incrementally getting stronger and running longer while two expert coaches, Jennifer Harrison and Elizabeth Waterstraat, will be by your (virtual) side the entire time.



The Details

For the first 4 weeks of this program, you’ll be following the Return to Run Progression, a run/walk program that safely eases you back into running three days a week. Expert coaches Jennifer Harrison + Elizabeth  Waterstraat, who have a deep knowledge of running injuries and the female body, are available via a private Facebook group, email, and/or office hours to help when you need it. (If you need more than four weeks to execute the progression, no problem.)

By the end of week four of the Return to Running Progression, you’ll be at an hour of running (with a few short walk breaks). Then you’ll transition to eight weeks of Heart + Sole: Introduction to Running by Heart Rate. You’ll increase your running to four days a week and continue to improve your cardiovascular endurance; by the end of 12 weeks, you’ll be able to run for 75 minutes straight—and have a whole new perspective on your comeback.

BIGGEST WEEK OF TRAINING: Tops out at four hours and five minutes of running over five days; in addition, there is one 50-minute cross-training session that week

LONGEST RUN DISTANCE: By the end of the program, you will run for 75 minutes continuously. (If you are already able to meet this mark, we can easily help you extend your long runs.)

CROSS TRAINING + STRENGTH TRAINING INCLUDED? Yep. In Return to Running, you’ll cross-train up to three days a week; and continue to do any physical therapy or strength exercises that address your injury.

In Heart + Sole: Introduction to Running by Heart Rate, each week has one or two cross-training days and two strength circuits that you can easily follow. Two strength routines include resistance bands.

WEEKLY OVERVIEW: In Return to Running, you’ll run three days a week for four weeks, and cross-train up to three days a week. In Heart + Sole: Introduction to Running by Heart Rate, you’ll run four or five runs; one or two cross-training session; two strength circuits; one rest day.

FIRST AND PEAK WEEKS: (workouts are fully explained in the program)

All your workouts are accessible via a Training Peaks Account. This free training tool will help you chart the nearly daily growth of your endurance base. It also sends you a daily email with your workouts for today and tomorrow so you can plan accordingly.

Coaches Jen and Liz are there to help you over speed bumps and answer your questions—and we promise, they’ll never throw a clipboard or blow a whistle in your face. Not only have the dynamic duo designed every facet of your program from your first step through your finish line, they’ve also written a weekly newsletter filled with advice and tips that corresponds to your training program.

What’s more, there are three ways you can connect with them:
—Ask the Coach column on Facebook: Coach Jen or Liz posts a weekly Ask the Coach column, where you can comment with anything that’s on your mind. (If you’re not a Facebooker, you can email us with your question.)

—Exclusive Podcasts: Coaches Jen + Liz talk through pacing, injuries, and plenty of other helpful + entertaining topics.

—Office Hours: If you’d like individual guidance, Coaches Jen + Liz have regular office hours so you can chat over your situation.

In addition to Train Like a Mother Club, you’ll be invited to join a private Heart + Sole Club on Strava, where you can track your miles, and a private Heart + Sole Facebook page, where you’ll quickly find an army of (funny, empathetic, inspiring) #motherrunner teammates.* You’ll share training tips, stories of good runs and bad, cheer each other on, and push each other out the door. Momentum comes from teamwork, and these programs roll on some serious #motherrunner momentum.

*Please note that your membership in both our Strava and Facebook groups and access to the training program coaches are limited to the duration of your training plan, plus a few weeks for you to bask in the glow of your race and work with the coaches to help plan your next athletic goal and corresponding training plan. Your access to the Facebook group begins when your training plan does. You are welcome to request entry up to one month before your starting date.

With your registration,  you will receive a package stocked with training essentials, including GU Energy items; a pair of blister-banishing Wrightsock running socks; a 2-oz. bottle of Sweat X Odor Eliminator spray; and an AMR sticker for your water bottle or laptop. Over $40 worth of swag!

(Domestic shipping is FREE for all merchandise and training swag packages. International shipping is not currently available but we invite you to participate in any of our online programs! Just email us at and we will help you bypass the shipping at checkout.)


This program is on rolling admission, which means your program begins the Monday after you register. You will receive an introductory email shortly after you register, and then you will receive your Week 1 newsletter on Sunday. You will begin your program the following day, Monday.

We designed this program for people who have had a significant break from running – 2 months or more. Whether you had an injury or an illness, are postpartum, or simply hit a roadblock in life or motivation, this is a safe, smart way to get back to a running routine.

If you’ve been away from running for a physical reason, we ask that you have approval from your doctor or physical therapist to resume a weight-bearing activity.

Before you sign up for this program, we’d like for you to follow this walking progression:

• Aim to walk 3 to 4 times a week for 2 to 3 weeks.

• Build up to 60 minutes of walking at a time.

• You should be able to walk briskly for 60 minutes without pain: This demonstrates that the site of injury or bone can handle the impact forces of running.

Once you can walk briskly for 60 minutes without pain, we’d love to have you join us!

The only other prereq? You need to own a heart rate monitor, and you need to wear it all the time while training.

You will likely run slower than you have in years, and your post-run, “I’m-a-bad*ss” glow may not feel as intense as it usually does. (But make no mistake, you are STILL a bad*ss!)

The thing to keep in mind is that that post-run, bad*ss glow is likely from a Zone 3 effort (we’ll explain more later) which leaves you prone to injury + stagnation. What’s more, that glow is temporary, and fleeting euphoric feelings are typically not worth the long-term drawbacks.

Often athletes abandon training in lower heart rate zones out of frustration or boredom—or because they just can’t bear—and move on to the higher zones for one of two reasons:
A) They get to maintain a nice clip and satisfy their inner competitive beast.
B) They believe that training harder will yield faster and stronger results.

A is true—it does feel good to run fast, but it doesn’t do anything for building endurance or warding off injury. And B? Simply not true.

Building running-specific fitness is like building a pyramid. You have to start with a wide, solid base that can support the demands of the structure as it grows higher and higher. The stronger and wider the foundation, the better your performances will be at the peak.

Without a stable base? The pyramid is going to collapse into the sand—or in your case, result in injury, burn out, sickness, or a performance plateau. Thanks, but no. The most efficient way to build your own, never-gonna-break-down pyramid is to train in your own heart rate zones.

The majority of the runs in this program are in Zones 1-2, which helps you build a solid foundation of cardiovascular endurance and keep your risk of injury low, which is exactly what you need to keep going for many happy miles ahead.

Because using your heart rate—not your GPS or best friend—as your pace guide allows you to zero in on Zone 2. This Zone, which encourages, slower, easy running, improve endurance and aerobic capacity while allowing all of your body, from your strong, powerful glutes to the tiny tendons in your feet, to adjust to the high-impact demands of running.

When you exercise in Zone 2, you improve your heart’s ability to pump blood and your muscles’ ability to utilize oxygen—two of the foundational bricks of your #BAMR pyramid. Training in Zone 2, a physiological sweet spot, teaches the body to become more efficient at fueling muscles and metabolizing fat as a primary source of fuel. Slow twitch muscle fibers become stronger and better at using oxygen to produce energy.

It’s not only about oxygen transport though. Your ligaments, tendons and other connective tissue adapt more slowly to the high impact demands than your muscles do. Hanging in Zone 2 gives them time and distance to adjust and prepares them for the higher intensities of the upper zones.

It depends on your budget, your preference for features, and your feelings towards tech. (One great place to do a deep dive into heart rate monitors is D.C. Rainmaker.)

The most basic or sophisticated model will be suitable for this program; we recommend using a device from either Garmin or Polar. As you look through the options, know you need a monitor that, at a minimum, displays elapsed time and heart rate. Features like cadence, pace, vertical oscillation, and stride length are interesting to observe and track but are definitely not necessary.

Wrist-based monitoring, including Apple watches, has definitely improved over the years, but it’s still not as accurate as a chest strap, so go for the latter if you want the most consistent data.

Two of the strength routines include resistance bands, so if you’d like to purchase those, that would be a good investment. (Hello, hip stability!)

No. Return to Running + Running by Heart Rate: An Introduction is simply a 12-week training program designed to:
#1 Safely get you back to running regularly;
#2 Help you gain fitness; and,
#3 Try running by heart rate.

Within a few weeks of registration, every participant in a Train Like a Mother program receives a stocked swag package with some of our favorite training essentials. Domestic shipping is now FREE for all merchandise and training swag packages.

We are no longer able to ship internationally, including to Canada. That said, we invite all international runners to participate in any of our online programs! Just email us at and we will help you bypass the shipping at checkout.

We definitely want this to work into your life and your running lifestyle. You can email us within 2 weeks of starting the program and we will set you up with another plan or a partial credit for an upcoming program. We will not be able to issue a straight-up refund.

With a smart training plan, doable strength training, and advice on foam rolling and other self-care, we’re going to do our best help you Return to Running feeling strong and capable.That said, if you have an injury or illness that totally slays your training, let us know within two weeks. We’ll work with you to get you a partial credit for an upcoming program.


Reviews (5)


  1. stephaniespindler (verified owner)

    I started this program after several unsuccessful attempts on my own to get back into running. I was starting back after a long bout with plantar fasciitis, well over a year of little to inconsistent running and exercising. This program is exactly what I needed. The gradual build up was what my body needed physically as well as mentally to feel like “YES I can do this!” and not be discouraged. I took an extra week to complete my 4 week “return portion of the program and loved that I felt I could do that and go at the pace my body needed. The support and encouragement in the Facebook is so helpful. I am REALLY enjoying running by heart rate. I have always been a distance and how fast can I get it done person but this has changed my mindset and put me more in tune with my body. I am currently at the start of week 11 and ran my first race in 9 months this past weekend- without pain and I felt GOOD after. Now I am looking forward to moving onto the Heart + Sole 10k program after this.

  2. Karen Jorenby (verified owner)

    I loved this program. I was sidelined from running for 6 months and wondered if I’d ever be able to get started again. The Return to Running and Heart + Sole was exactly what I needed. It eased me into running again along with some really good strength workouts. It also gave me “permission” to slow down a little and not over-exert myself each time I went out. When I got to the end of the program and the runs were over an hour long I didn’t dread them because I knew i could do it while maintaining a relatively comfortable effort level.. I am looking forward to additional heart rate training. It may or may not get me to my next PR, but what I really want is to keep running for years to come and I think this program is my best bet for that goal!

  3. Ashley Crockett-Lohr (verified owner)

    I am still in the early weeks of the program, but I am still finding this to be the boost that I needed to get back out there. The workouts are accessible and build up gradually. While I feel I could do more, I appreciate the reserved approach to re-entry. I am also someone who has trouble designing my own workout regimen, so I really appreciate having everything mapped out for me so nicely! I’m so glad I made this investment!

    – Ashley

  4. Trisha Rousseau (verified owner)

    I purchased this program after having two kids in two years. I was struggling to find a path back to running that was gentle and would not lead to injury. I’ve found the return to running program a perfect roadmap to get back to regular running. I’m looking forward to following through with it and hopefully return to racing this winter.

  5. Kelly (verified owner)

    Loved this program. It was the perfect program for me while I was returning from an extended running absence after my 2nd pregnancy. I felt really supported by the coaches and they answered my many questions quickly and always with good advice, customized to my situation. Highly recommend!

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