Oscar Pistorius to start track routine

JOHANNESBURG -- Oscar Pistorius will return to a "low-key" track routine to help him prepare for his murder trial and deal with the trauma of killing his girlfriend, his family says.

In a statement posted on Pistorius' website and dated Thursday, the double-amputee runner's family said he had decided to resume running on a track for a few hours a week to help with his mental state.

It was "not aimed at preparing for competition," they said.

Pistorius has said he will not run competitively for the rest of 2013 while he faces a likely lengthy murder trial for the shooting death of Reeva Steenkamp, but he does now want to run regularly again as his court case continues.

"His focus at this time remains entirely on the court case," the family said in the statement. "His family and those close to him have encouraged him to spend a few hours a week on the track to assist him in finding the necessary mental and emotional equilibrium to process his trauma and prepare for the trial."

Pistorius has been seen just once on an athletics track since the Feb. 14 killing of Steenkamp at his house in Pretoria, for which he was charged with premeditated murder.

A March sighting at his usual practice facility at the University of Pretoria spurred speculation that he was back in training, which was denied at the time by his family, who described him then as being in "an extremely traumatized state" and not willing to contemplate training.

Pistorius' next court appearance is Aug. 19, when prosecutors might indict him and a date could be set for the start of his trial, possibly in September and October. Pistorius denies he murdered Steenkamp, saying he shot her accidentally in the pre-dawn hours of Valentine's Day because he thought she was an intruder in his bathroom.

The 26-year-old Olympian faces a life sentence with a minimum of 25 years in prison if he is convicted of premeditated murder.

In March, Pistorius was photographed by a schoolgirl on a cellphone while he was walking on a track and wearing his carbon fiber running blades at the University of Pretoria. His family and agent said he had gone there only to show some Australian athletes where he usually trained. He did some light jogging, they said, but did not properly train.

Pistorius' family has also talked of the multiple Paralympic champion's mental struggle to resume running having not competed since he retained his title in the final of the 400 meters at the London Paralympics last September.

They said in April that Pistorius had been out running on isolated occasions, "but each time has been very difficult and he has struggled immensely with the decision to even leave the house."

On Thursday, the family reiterated that Pistorius was still "not contemplating a formal return to athletics" despite his decision to return to a track routine.