3 Running Tips for Every Type of Runner
I want to start running, but I don’t know how or where to start:
The physical side of things: If you have never run before, don’t START with running, start with cross training, strength training, and incline walking. And while that seems contradictory, it’s going to help prime your body to take on the strain of running. It’s also important to work on technique and mechanics when it comes to running: mimicking a mid-foot strike with dynamic warm-ups to help create muscle memory for your body so it knows what to do when you do start running, working on runner-specific strength training, like deadlifts and step-ups to prime your muscles to protect your bones and joints from the impact of running, and creating habits like scheduling workouts, making playlists, and holding yourself accountable, are all catalysts in helping prepare your body to get ready to run.
The mental side of it: I’ve seen a lot of people start out learning to run with a structured plan, like a couch to 5k, which is great, but it can also be too much volume too quickly and sometimes can lead to injury. And while race programs are great in terms of structure and natural progression, they can tend to wire your body to think you always have to work toward a goal, and oftentimes, I see people lose motivation after they reach a goal. My advice: if you want to make running a lifestyle, and something that you actually enjoy doing, instead of focusing on speed, running longer, or weight loss, and judging your progress off that, start by applying the work ethic you have in your workouts to the rest of your life. Set up “mini goals” and use every accomplishment from achieving those goals as momentum to work toward your next goal.
You don’t have to train for a race to love this sport, sometimes you just have to train for life.
Movement is forward momentum, no matter how slow or fast it is.
How to start: when you run, the impact of your body weight on the ground is about 5x your body weight on your bones and joints. Your body needs to prepare for this in ways other than running: mimicking single leg exercises in strength training, or incline walking to develop power and lung capacity. Jumping right into running high volume, or running every day, can lead to overuse injuries like shin splints and stress fractures.
Put variety in your schedule for about a month with incline walking, run/walk workouts, and strength training and your body will begin to crave running longer and faster, not because your mind wants to do it, but because your body is READY to do it.
How to Get Out of a Running Slump:
I’ve seen it time and time again: People who have been running for a while start to level up with their training, so they do, then they have a bad week, or a bad day. And guess what? That’s inevitable. Not every day is your best day at work, or dealing with your family right? The same goes for running: you are not going to be at peak level of performance, mentally and physically, every day.
And this is the tricky thing: often times, I see people who use running as their stress outlet, which is great, it’s a healthy way to feel good and accomplished, but when they have a bad workout, consequently they feel down on themselves, out of shape, or they don’t get that endorphin high they are looking for that day.
You have to roll with the punches when it comes to running, or else running will punch you. Respect the fact that even though running is good to you, it will also challenge you.
When I get into running slumps, like when I don’t feel like running, or I feel guilt from not running, I do 1 of 3 things: take a break and switch up my training routine (cross training), I force myself to rest more (rest and recovery is what primes your body and mind to mentally and physically push yourself), or I embrace other ways to motivate myself, like hobbies I’ve neglected, so that I can take my mind off running in order to come back with a fresh, new perspective and state of mind.
Running, fitness, driving to the gym, all of that starts with a state of mind. Your willingness to succeed is controlled by your discipline, and while we often measure our progress in calories, weight, and speed, discipline is the unspoken measurable that carries you to the finish line of every race, and every workout.
So when you are stuck in a rut, not performing well, or you’ve lost the desire to run, make a small to-do list that may not even include running. Check off these mini accomplishments, and use those accomplishments as the momentum to help you get back to a good place mentally.
Don’t Let Your Running Data Rule Your Life:
I know i’ve done it, so I’m sure maybe some of you can relate. You’ve PR’d your 10k, and now you’ve got this overwhelming feeling of accomplishment and determination, and you’re like LET’S RUN A MARATHON, and if your like me, you may even sign up that day. And while setting goals is great, it’s important to not let your ego’s desires trump what your body is capable of.
I track all my runs, as I’m sure some of you do to. And when I used to have a bad runs, I get down on myself, and instead of reassessing my training plan, and having the patience and discipline to bring my body and mind back to the drawing board, I would try it again the next day. Sometimes I would win, sometimes it would be worse. I’ve learned that your body can’t always do what your mind wants it to do, and it’s no one’s fault. It’s just a matter of knowing that when you level up your training, you are not going to peak perform every day, and you are going to have to do things you don’t want to do, like rest, recover, work on mechanics, and run slow for a while.
I learned my lesson with this last year: I ran an Ultra marathon (first time ever), and crushed it. So then I used the momentum from that race and a few weeks later, completed a bucket list item of mine: I ran the perimeter of Manhattan (35 miles). And prior to all of this I had a marathon in Greece planned. So I went to Greece with the mentality that I was becoming a super badass endurance athlete and that I was OVERLY prepared to PR this marathon. On race day, which I didn’t know then, but know now, my blood levels were all off, my body’s immune system was shutting down, and the functionality of my kidneys was giving out due to all the volume I was running. So at mile 13.1, I threw up, passed out, and woke up in a hospital.
Data is great. Seeing negative splits on a distance run is liberating. And while doing things like de-training, and taking time off doesn’t give you the same feeling of accomplishment, it’s just as imperative to your success, as your workouts are.
I’ve learned that if you want to run fast and well, you have to run slow and rest too.
You have to roll with the punches when it comes to running. And while running may punch you some days instead, learning how to play and defend both sides of the game is going to make you a tougher competitor, mentally and physically.
De-train after your races, know that as you level up, you have to level up your recovery too, and throw in some cross training, so you can come back to running with a fresh perspective, and overwhelming readiness.
Taking time off after a race or hard workout doesn’t make you lose fitness, it helps you respect the process and prime you to peak-perform again in the future.