Tips for runners coming back from injury

Tips for runners coming back from injury

For experienced runners coming back from a hiatus due to injury, being conservative is the name of the game for base training. You don’t want to do too much too soon and risk re-injury.

Keep weekly mileage low. If you only missed a few weeks of running, cut your typical weekly mileage in half. If you were out for months, don’t have any set goals for total mileage, just listen to your body.

Don’t do speedwork. Resist the urge to pick up the pace at first. Run at a slow, easy pace during your first few weeks back (take walk breaks when needed). If you feel OK after a few weeks, gradually start increasing your speed.

For runners in the off-season

For runners in the off-season

It’s not uncommon for seasoned racers to take a break from intense training in the early summer months or during the holidays. Most big races are held in the spring and fall, so using the time immediately after those races to recover is key. After you’ve recovered from your race, it’s important to maintain a base if you plan on resuming training again a few months later.

Be patient. Ideally, a base building should last between 6 weeks and 4 months.

Start easy. At the beginning of your base building training, most of your runs should be done at a conversational pace. Add in a one-speed workout around the 3-week mark and another faster paced run around the 8-week mark if you’re up for it.

Keep the long run as part of your weekly routine. Do one long run each week just like you would during normal training. Remember that “long” is relative. If the rest of your workouts are 3-milers, a 5-miler would be a long run.

Follow the 10 percent rule. Don’t increase your weekly mileage or the distance of your long run by more than 10 percent each week.

Base building is also the perfect time to add cross–training or strength training to your routine.

How to stop taking walk breaks during your runs

How to stop taking walk breaks during your runs

Taking walk breaks mid-run can be a great thing. You may even be able to cover a longer distance, in a shorter amount of time with walk breaks than without them.

However, that’s a big “may”. If you started running using a run-walk method, such as Jeff Galloway’s popular training approach, you may wonder, “Could I be faster if I didn’t take walk breaks?”

Again, that’s a big maybe. Some people are faster without walk breaks, while others do better with them. But you’ll never know unless you try.

Cutting out walk breaks takes patience. When you’re used to taking walk breaks, it takes time to get used to running without them. Don’t just go out for a run one day and try to run the whole distance without walking. Instead, follow these steps to eliminate walk breaks from your runs:

Slow down the pace. Backing off your running pace will help conserve energy. Walking gives your body a break so you’re able to cover a longer distance before fatiguing. Slowing down your running pace does the same thing, and this approach will help you ease into running without walk breaks. In time, you’ll be able to pick up the pace again.

Shorten the length of your walk breaks. If you take one-minute long walk breaks, try 45- or 30-second walk breaks instead and see how you fair. If the run felt too hard, lengthen the duration of your walk breaks – if it felt too easy, do the reverse. Eventually, your walk breaks will be so short that you’ll be able to stop taking them all together.

Reduce the number of walk-breaks you take on a single run. Once you’re used to taking shorter walk breaks, try to cut back on how often you take them. If you’re currently doing a 3:1 ratio (three minutes of running then one minute of walking), try a 4:1 ratio instead. After you’ve done that for a while, go up to a 5:1 ratio, then a 6:1 ratio, and so on. Soon you’ll be able to run a mile without a walk break, then two, then three, etc.

Cover a shorter distance. If you’ve done longer races, like a half marathon, using a walk/run method, you’re likely used to doing long runs on the weekends. Forget about running long for some time. Once you’re able to run 3 miles straight, increase your distance gradually – like you’re learning to run long for the first time again – so you don’t get hurt.

Focus more on recovery. By taking walk breaks, we reduce muscle damage and prevent injuries because the body gets a chance to recover mid-run. But when you just run your body doesn’t get that break. So, it’s important to focus on recovery between runs. Take plenty of rest days and skip runs when you’re feeling extra sore or tired.

When can you run when you are in pain?

When can you run when you are in pain?

My alarm went off at 5.30 a.m. this morning and I had planned to run 10 miles. However as soon as I stood up, I realized my legs had other plans.

I was sore. No doubt from the strength training session and 800-meter repeats I did earlier in the week. I thought I’d feel OK by now, but my hamstrings, quads, and glutes were still achy.

I debated texting my running buddy and canceling our plans. I could just push back my long run until tomorrow, but should I?

Is it OK to run when you’re sore?

Is it OK to run when you’re sore?

The type of soreness I was experiencing is the kind that happens to all athletes after intense exercise or a new type of exercise – delayed onset muscle soreness or DOMS (soreness that starts immediately after exercise is something else). DOMS starts about 24 hours after a workout and can last anywhere from 2 to 4 days. DOMS is caused by small tears in muscle fibers that occur during strenuous activity.

DOMS isn’t too harmful, so you can run through it in most cases. In fact, running with mild soreness can be a good thing. It helps to prepare you both physically and mentally for the pain you’ll experience on race day.

When it’s not OK to run

If you have sharp pain somewhere or one leg, foot, or knee hurts more than the other – don’t run. That type of pain is a sign of an impending injury. If your soreness is accompanied by any cold symptoms or intense fatigue, then don’t run. This could mean you’re coming down with an illness or over-training.  If you’ve had soreness for several days that’s getting worse instead of getting better, then don’t run and see a doctor.

If you have mild soreness and it’s been a while since your last rest day, it’s probably not a good idea to lace up your running shoes (here’s why you need regular rest days). If you have a planned speed session but are dealing with DOMS, it may not be a bad idea to run easy today and make up your speed-work on your planned easy day instead. You may not be able to hit your target paces when sore and it’s not worth the mental anguish.

If you can’t decide if you should run or not, try this test: do one mile at an easy pace and note how you feel. If you feel physically better or the same, keep running. If you feel sorer, stop running. When in doubt, take the extra rest day. Muscles are torn on the run and rebuilt when the body is at rest. Meaning that sometimes an extra day off can be more beneficial in the long run.

I ended up running my scheduled 10-miler this morning. And wouldn’t you know it, after the first mile, I felt great. My legs loosened up, and while I was fatigued by the end, I felt better afterwards than I did before I started. But I’m looking forward to my rest day tomorrow!

Benefits offered by running you may not know

Benefits offered by running you may not know

We all know that running is great for the body, but are there benefits that extend into other areas? Can running have a positive effect on your character and how you experience life?

First, let’s have a look at some of the physical benefits:

  • Improves joint and bone health
  • Helps to reduce the risk of disease including cancer
  • Boosts metabolism

Those who run on a regular basis can confirm that this type of exercise has many physical benefits. But running is also great for you mentally and emotionally, ultimately having an effect on your character. Running allows you to challenge yourself and to find and release certain individual character qualities.

Below are some ways running can help you to become stronger in both your body and mind, making you a better person. There are many veteran runners out there that can confirm how running has actually helped and transformed their characters in some form or another.

Running can help to improve Mental Strength

Running can help to improve Mental Strength

Many take up running after various health scares, which helps them recover or can slow down the disease process. After a while, they find that not only is it helping them physically, but there are many other rewards and benefits.

Running can help build perseverance as well as confidence, as you notice results. By continuing and overcoming the initial difficulty of developing a running routine, you feel you can overcome all obstacles.

Another example – imagine having to move from one city to another. A place where you don’t know anybody, a stranger in an unknown environment. This story will resonate with many, including Alice. Her husband got a job in another city and she had to move with him to a new and different place.

One of the things she regularly does is run and this is what helped her through the moving transition. Running had helped her build her strength both physically as well as mentally, thereby enabling her to adapt much faster and more easily.

Finding clarity when things go wrong

Running can be something that helps you cope with various life challenges. Think about stressful situations, like those who serve in the armed forces. There are many other instances where depression, stress, and anxiety can overwhelm you.

Can running help? Yes, there have been those who are going through these painful experiences but confirm that running has helped them cope.

The routine and focus it takes to run can help you to find clarity and peace in challenging circumstances. Running can become a sort of coping mechanism, which is far better than turning to alcohol or drugs.

Running helps you to adapt to change

Sometimes, you might lose control of something in your life, it could be a health issue or other circumstance. In these cases, you don’t have a choice with what is happening to you or around you. This was a case for Sarah (name changed for privacy), who wasn’t a runner, to begin with. But after suffering a health condition that caused blindness in her right eye, she decided to focus on her health more. So, she began a running routine and has kept on ever since.

She is now healthier and has even lost quite a bit of weight in the process. She also has no more health issues and has completed a few marathons since then. She is so confident in what running has done for her that she now tries to get as many friends and colleagues to join her.

Running, therefore, helps you to adapt to difficult circumstances, giving you something you can focus on. By choosing to make a positive change, you are helping to overcome any feelings of helplessness.

Confidence Boosting through running

Running is a great way to build confidence. When running, you have to set goals, and this gives you a sense of achievement when you reach what you set out to do. While running, you are focusing on yourself and on the moment. Your improved health, appearance, and mood are all confidence boosting. When you start to take care of yourself, you also become better at dealing with everything else in your life.

Running Encourages Creativity

While running, specifically on a familiar route, you can let your mind wander. This puts you in a position to think more creatively, a great way to improve problem-solving skills. Studies show that any moderate aerobic exercise increases a person’s creative potential. This can be seen directly after a workout as well as a few hours later.

So, running can, therefore, increase mental clarity and provides an uninterrupted time where you can think and come up with solutions to various problems. Many runners also claim that their thoughts feel a bit sluggish if they miss their daily run.

Form Friendships through running

Form Friendships through running

We all know that running produces a feel-good mood, which is caused by certain hormones released in the body. This positive attitude and feeling can also affect those around you. You might be a solitary runner, even if it is in a race, you will notice the friendliness and support runners provide each other. You will always find a runner assisting another if the need arises.

For many, the comradery is what attracts them to running. There’s time before a race to chat with your fellow runners while waiting to start. Even during the race, you might find those who encourage you and with whom you can strike up a conversation. The entire running community is supportive, with a positive outlook, attracting many who wish to also experience this type of community.

Promotes Humility

Most runners will have experienced some challenging races, not finishing, having to leave a race due to injury even after hours of hard training. Running does have its challenges, these above as well as things like bad weather or difficult terrain. All these things can have a humbling effect, no matter what level of runner you are. Each runner has setbacks, but ultimately these difficulties help to build your strength and resilience. These hardships you overcome while running can help you with those difficulties that happen in your everyday life.

Run a Marathon

Run a Marathon

To run a marathon is a popular bucket list item which unfortunately most people never get to accomplish. I haven’t managed to find any accurate research on the statistics of the percentage of those that list the desire to run a marathon, that successfully goes on to achieve this goal. However, what I do know is that completing a marathon is one of the most satisfying bucket list or goal to accomplish.

We offer advice for the couch potatoes starting from scratch, to those casual joggers who desire to run a marathon. Almost without fail, most people go through a difficult period, however, with the right determination and burning desire, it is very much attainable.

More about the Marathon

More about the Marathon

The marathon has become a tribute to the legendary Pheidippides, who was a Greek soldier who ran from the ‘Battle of Marathon’ all the way to Athens where he reported victory. Today, this long-distance race is usually run on the road, with runners having to complete a distance of 42.195 km or 26 miles. The marathon is a race meant for running, but many have employed the technique of run/walking in order to reach the finish line.

The official distance, as stated above, was only decided upon in 1921. Before this, records show that the marathon was part of the Olympics in 1896. There are hundreds of marathon races held each year, all around the world. Many of the participants are runners who do it for recreational purposes, which is why many of the events have thousands of entrants each year.

The History of the Marathon

The History of the Marathon

The origins and the word marathon comes from Greek legend. Way back in 490BC, when the Persians decided to invade Greece. The citizens of Athens and the Persians met on the battlefield, which was on the plains of Marathon, a part of northeastern Attica at the time. It is said that the Greek messenger Philippines also known as Pheidippides, ran all the way from the battle to Athens. Upon reaching Athens, he rushed into an assembly and shouted, “we have won”. Unfortunately, he had so exhausted himself, he fell down and died.

The entire incident was recorded and shows up in an essay by Plutarch, with the heading ‘On the Glory of Athens.’ This appeared during the first century AD and is cited from the lost works of Heraclides Ponticus, a Greek Philosopher and Astronomer.  Here the legendary runner is referred to as both Eucles and Thersipus of Erchius. Another mention of the famous runner can also be found in the writings of Lucian of Samosata, in the second century. The Syrian satirist mentions the famous runner as Philippides.

Herodotus, who was a Greek historian, also mentions a messenger, using the name Philippines. His comments refer to a messenger who ran from Athens all the way to Sparta, where he requested help. The messenger then ran back to Athens, which would add up to more than 240km both ways. The historian does not mention anywhere in writings about a messenger who ran from Marathon to Athens. He does mention that a large part of the Athenian Army, having beaten the Persians, marched on towards Athens, in order to protect the city from a potential naval attack. So, there seems to be a bit of a debate on the entire story. Robert Browning, an English poet, and playwright penned a poem about Pheidippides in 1879. During the 19th century, his works became popular and the story became legendary.

Considering the route that Philippides ran, he would have had to run around Mount Pentelicus. Now, nobody knows which route he may have taken, but there is a path he could have chosen, which today follows the Marathon-Athens Highway. This exact same route would have been about 40km long (original marathon distance), during the time the Olympics re-emerged in 1896. Philippines could have also taken another route, this would have been shorter, but it would have been a tough climb along the slopes of the mountain. Whatever the distance route, or real story, this famous legend inspired future generations to challenge themselves, all running their own marathon.

The Marathon in the Modern Olympics

The Marathon in the Modern Olympics

The modern Olympics came into being in 1896. Those in charge at the time needed to come up with an event, which could become popular amongst the masses. This is where the idea of Ancient Greece came into play. The marathon race itself was suggested by a man named Michel Bréal. His desire was to have the marathon event appear in the first 1896 Athens Olympic Games.

Pierre de Coubertin, the organizer and one who came up with the idea of a modern Olympics, supported Bréal’s plan. Not only that, the Greek citizens welcomed the idea. The first step was for the Greeks to have a selection race, which was won by Charilaos Vasilakos (he won in 3h18minutes). The modern Olympics began on the 6th April 1896 and the first male marathon winner was a Greek named Spyridon Louis. He won the race on the 10 April in a time of 2h58minutes and 50 seconds.

Many years later, in 2004, the Olympics was again held in Athens. The marathon race was run along the famous route from Marathon to Athens, the finish line being at the Panathinaiko Stadium. This stadium was also the main venue, which held the original modern Olympic in 1896. An Italian, Stefano Baldini won the 2004 Olympic marathon race in record time. Later in 2014, Felix Kandie won the Athens marathon race on the same route and beat Balbini’s record by 18 seconds.

Before, these types of marathon races were run by males only. The first women’s marathon only came into being in 1984 at the USA, Los Angeles Summer Olympics event. The race was won by an American woman named Joan Benoit (2h24minutes52seconds).

Over the years, there has bee a tradition where the men’s marathon race is run on the final day of Olympic events. Also, the race traditionally ended inside the chosen Olympic Stadium, but there have been a few deviations on this. For example, during the London Olympics in 2012, the start of the race, as well as the end was in the famous ‘The Mall’ road located in the city of Westminster.

The start and finish were also different in the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, which was in a parade area known as the Sambódromo. Another tradition includes handing out the men’s medals for the marathon event at the closing ceremony. One of the countries that have produced many successful track and field runners, is the African country of Kenya. Many of the runners come from the Rift Valley Province.

The birth of Marathon mania

The birth of Marathon mania

One of the more popular and well-known marathon events is the Boston Marathon. This marathon road race was inspired by the first Modern Olympics Marathon and first began in 1897 and now occurs annually. The route begins in Hopkinton, a town located in Massachusetts and continues onto Copley Square, a public square in the city of Boston. Marathon running grew in popularity in the United States, due to the American Johnny Hayes, who won the Summer Olympics in 1908. What is known as ‘Marathon Mania’ or an obsession with such events followed in 1908, starting with the Empire City Marathon in New York? What followed was a number of non-professional events, all held in the city of New York. All of these marathon races fell on or close to important occasions, such as New Year’s Day, and Lincoln’s Birthday etc.

There was an even bigger attraction created for the sport in 1972 when Frank Shorter won the Summer Olympics Marathon held in West Germany. In 2014, it was estimated that 550.600 participants finished a marathon event held in various location around the United States. Marathon events are now held, sometimes weekly, in many different countries around the world, each with thousands of runners participating.

Women Marathon Runners

Women Marathon Runners

Marathon running, for many years, was a male-dominated sport. The first women to run the distance was Stamata Revithi in 1896. She was unfortunately not mentioned in the official results. The first woman who was officially recognized was Marie-Louise Ledru, who ran and finished a marathon race in 1918. Finally, the first woman to have been formally timed in 1926, was Violet Piercy.

More Firsts for women:

  • Arlene Pieper completed the Pikes Peak Marathon In Colorado, she was the first women to finish a marathon in the United States in 1959.
  • Bobbi Gibb unofficially ran the Boston marathon in 1966. She has since also been acknowledged as the female winner for ’67 and ’68.
  • Katherine Switzer ran the Boston Marathon and was the first women to be officially recognized (having a number) in 1967. She was later disqualified because she ran in a race, which was meant only for male runners.

The Distance of the Marathon

To begin, the distance for a marathon race wasn’t clear, but during the first Games, 40km or 25 miles was considered the race length. This was the estimated distance from Marathon to Athens, along with the longer route, during those times. Today’s marathon distance is set at 42.195km and was decided upon by the International Amateur Athletic Foundation or IAAF in 1921.

The races today do allow some leniency, but the final distance measured should be 42m over the official distance and not under. Those who are responsible for marking out the route, usually add about 1m per kilometer onto their measurements, in order to prevent any errors in the distance that might land below the required length.

IAAF rules govern the following:

  • Runners must be able to see markers, displayed in kilometers along the route.
  • World records will only be recognized by races that fall under the rules of the IAAF.
  • Professional events: timings must be issued at the midway mark, as well as at every 5km splits.
  • Runners can be recognized for world records, obtained at distances less than the full marathon. The distance must be endorsed by the IAAF, for example, a participant can be recognized for a world record at 20km, 30km etc. The participants will only be recognized for this if they run and complete the full marathon.

Popular Marathon Races

Popular Marathon Races

There are many marathon events held throughout the world every year. Many of these are organized by the AIMS or Association of International Marathons and Distance Races. This organization began in 1982 and since has organized events all over the world.

Marathon races worldwide:

  • The Biennial World Marathon Series: includes cities like Tokyo, New York, London, Chicago, Boston and Berlin. They award quite a large sum of money to both female and male participants.
  • Runner’s World nominated the ‘World’s Top Ten Marathons’ in 2006. These included marathons in Paris, Stockholm, Amsterdam, Honolulu amongst others.
  • The world’s oldest yearly marathon is the Boston Marathon, held annually since 1897.
  • Europe’s oldest marathon includes the Košice Peace Marathon, held in Slovakia.
  • The Polytechnic Marathon was held in or close to London, but due to increased traffic in the area amongst other issues, caused organizers to withdraw in 1996.
  • There is the Athens Classic Marathon, which follows the original Olympic route and finishes at the Panathenaic Stadium.
  • You have the more challenging destinations like the Midnight Sun Marathon in Tromsø in Norway.
  • There are even events being organized in areas like Antarctica, or in desert terrains.
  • Other extraordinary areas where marathon events have been organized include the Great Wall of China, amongst the wildlife in South Africa, the Great Tibetan Marathon is high up in Northern India and how about the Polar North Marathon in Greenland.
  • The International Istanbul Eurasia Marathon: Here participants will run in two continents, in Europe and Asia, all in a single race.
  • The Detroit Free Press Marathon: runners pass over the Canadian and US borders twice.
  • The Niagara Falls International Marathon: This event includes one international border crossing.

The Wheelchair Division of the Marathon

The Wheelchair Division of the Marathon

Today, many of the marathons also provide opportunities for wheelchairs. Those who participate in this event, usually begin their race a bit earlier than everyone else.

Some interesting facts about the wheelchair division:

  • Ohio, 1974: This was where and when the very first wheelchair marathon took place.
  • Bob Hall won the first wheelchair marathon race in 1974
  • Hall then participated in the Boston Marathon in 1975, from then this division was included in the race. The event was then named the US National Wheelchair Championships from 1977.
  • Ernst van Dyk has won the Wheelchair division race in Boston a number of times and also holds the world record.
  • Jean Driscol has won eight times for the women’s wheelchair division and also holds a world record.
  • The prize money for first place in the Master Division is $10 000
  • Some of the fastest wheelchair athletes include Thomas Geierpichler from Austria and Heinz Frei from Switzerland.

New York City had a shaky start for wheelchair participants and was actually banned in 1977, due to safety issues. However, Bob Hall was allowed to compete, because the Division of Human Rights demanded the marathon organizers give reasons for the ban. It was also decided that wheelchair participants could compete in the New York City Marathon in 1979, and the New York Road Runners Club was directed to accept these athletes in the race. This was later settled in an appeal the following year.

Unfortunately, the State Supreme Court pronounced in 1981 that prohibiting wheelchair athletes was in no way discriminatory because the marathon was actually founded as a ‘foot race’. Due to the perseverance of some wheelchair athletes who still competed in the race over the next few years, their persistence earned them an official wheelchair division in 2000.

I hope that all the history and information about the marathon has motivated you to take on the challenge of running a marathon.

The top 5 reasons for not losing weight – and what to do about it

The top 5 reasons for not losing weight – and what to do about it

In my 20 years of experience in the fitness industry, I have never, note NEVER, met anyone who could not lose weight no matter how hard they tried. Unfailingly, clients who could not lose weight were making crucial mistakes that were preventing them from success. Unfortunately, many people are in such denial about their exercise, eating and lifestyle habits, that they convince themselves they are doing everything they can to lose weight, while deep inside (deep inside) they know this is not the truth.

Here are my top 5 reasons for lack of weight loss:

You have no patience. Someone somewhere- maybe a fitness magazine, or an ad for a weight loss supplement, or maybe Biggest Loser, convinced you that losing 3-5 pounds a week is doable and expected. NO. This is the farthest thing from the truth. Expect no more than 2 pounds per week of real fat loss, and also expect staggered weeks of no weight loss, then loss. I have seen so many people GIVE UP on weight loss just before the body is ready to give the fat up. Your body does not shed fat easily- have patience. Eating well and exercising daily are their own rewards, but weight loss will happen if you do the work and maintain consistency.

Your job and life are sedentary. The biggest impact on metabolism and calorie expenditure is from our day to day activities- not exercise. It is amazing how many people will exercise one hour a day, but then sit, literally sit, for the remaining 13 hours. If you are trying to lose weight- then become a calorie expending machine throughout the day. Jog to the car, jog up stairs, walk an extra loop around the parking lot, fidget, get up and down from your chair. Do not conserve energy- expend it! Then, add vigorous exercise to top if off.

You walk as your primary source of exercise. Unless you are a true beginner and very deconditioned, walking is not a great calorie expending form of exercise. And, to boot, most people walk at a very slow pace, and pay no attention to how hard they are working. The harder you work- the more calories you burn, and the more likely you are to raise your metabolism. Weight loss necessitates HARD exercise- where your heart rate is up, you are sweating, and you feel like you are really exerting yourself. If you walk for exercise and do not feel like this- then you need to change things up. Research has shown that high intensity cardio intervals are a much better way to expend calories, are much more time efficient, and are safe for most everyone, even the deconditioned. You WILL need help designing an interval program, so ask a fitness professional how to begin.

You do not lift heavy enough weights while weight training. Big problem here. Women are especially prone to this error. Weight training is one of the two keys to weight loss success (key #1 below!). You should be lifting maximally- to failure in some cases, and not just your arms, or the parts you “don’t like”. You must create systemic stress working the major muscles of the body to create changes in body fat and lean tissue to create weight loss. For example, squats, rows, bench presses, lunges, dead lifts are all multi muscle group exercises that crank the metabolism and change bodies. The inner and outer thigh machine will never do that!

And, the #1 reason you aren’t losing-can’t/won’t lose-weight:

You do not pay close enough attention to nutrition. It is amazing to me what people think is “good nutrition”? Not eating all day, skipping breakfast, eating bagels and low-fat muffins? Or, you go on a ridiculously strict regimen (because you have no patience -see #5) and then crash and burn and overeat for days. Or, you are great all week, then overindulge on the weekends (research has shown most people overeat by 35% on weekends), thinking you “deserve” it. Healthy nutrition ALWAYS results in achievement of a normal weight. But healthy nutrition is not about under eating then over eating, not about good and bad foods, not about any gimmicks or supplements- it is about moderation and proper fuelling. Smaller portions, frequent meals, reduction in refined/ high glycaemic carbohydrates, increase in lean proteins and vegetables and healthy fats, low alcohol intake- these are the keys to good nutrition. And, for goodness sake, keep a nutrition log! Anyone who is not willing to do a food log is someone who will not lose weight. Period.

The Beginner guide to Running

The Beginner guide to Running

So, you have decided you want to start running. Are you ready to lace up your sneakers and hit the pavement? That’s fantastic! And we’re here to help you every step of the way.

I’ve been distance running for 13 years now. Over the past decade and a bit I have learned a lot about running, and myself, through reading countless running publications, talking to runner friends, and through my own experience.

The start of my running days seems like an eternity ago, but I remember one thing clearly: I knew nothing about running in the beginning. Seriously, zilch.

I was walking my dog one day and just decided to run for some reason. I wasn’t wearing running-specific shoes or any running gear. I had no watch and no plan. I just ran until I got tired, walked until I caught my breath, then ran again, and so on. I did this same workout for months, but I never told anyone I was taking up running. Because in my mind I wasn’t a runner since I needed to walk breaks. Oh, how wrong I was!

Here are some things I wish I knew when I started running

Here are some things I wish I knew when I started running

Walk breaks aren’t for the weak. In fact, very much to the contrary. I used to think to be a runner you had to run the whole way. Now, I swear by walk breaks and many popular training plans call for them.

You don’t have to race to be a runner. I ran my first race, a 10k, a year after I started running. Honestly, I was underwhelmed by the experience. It was 6 months before I raced again, and that’s when I caught the racing bug. But during that non-racing time, I wasn’t any less of a runner because I didn’t show up to any start lines. I still ran just as often and enjoyed my miles just as much.

Don’t compare yourself to others. When I first started running, all my friends were way faster than me. I was embarrassed to share my times because I was so much slower. Now, I have plenty of friends who are faster than me and some who are slower, and I am lucky to have a couple of training buddies who run the same pace. But here’s the thing, I don’t care about anyone else’s times and no one cares about mine either. The pace is all relative.

Running is classified as an individual sport. I don’t compete with my friends, only against myself. However, the running community is incredibly supportive. During a race, my performance may seem like it’s only up to me, but the cheers from the crowds and support from other runners along the course helped enormously.

There is no need to time every run. One of the downsides of only competing with yourself is the constant drive to improve. I went through a phase where I tried to run faster on every run. It was draining, to say the least. Now, when I’m not following a training plan, I leave my watch at home. I like running “naked” and just going.

Everyone has bad runs. A bad run, a disappointing race, or a less than stellar year of running doesn’t define you. The opposite is also true. Every runner has ebbs and flows with running. It’s how the sport keeps us on our toes!

Running motivation for beginner runners


Here are a few things that helped my running motivation in the beginning, and still continue to keep me on track:

Run for time not the number of miles. Running for 30 minutes instead of 3 miles takes the pressure off pace and goals. It allows you to enjoy the time rather than focusing on a set number of miles. You’re also more likely to run by feel, which helps you to run longer than if you gun it right out of the gate.

Set multiple alarms on your smartphone. The great thing about having a smartphone is you can set multiple custom alarms for a run. You can set it to say, “get out of bed” or “be inspired.” You can set as many alarms as you need to get you out the door.

Sign up for a race. Nothing keeps you motivated to run like training for a race. No matter the distance, following a training plan will help you focus on getting in your runs.

Join a local running club. By meeting others that are motivated to run, you will be more likely to stay committed. Also, most clubs have scheduled weekly workouts that will help you plan your runs for the week.

Buy new running gear. Nothing says “RUN” like a shiny new pair of sneakers. If you find running in the cold or rain difficult, a sweet new hat or pair of compression leggings may be the motivation you need to get out there.

As you embark on the spring challenge, these tips can help keep you motivated and on the road. What are some tips you have for beginner runners to stay motivated?

The basics of building a running foundation

Almost every training plan assumes that the runner has a “base”. Your base is exactly what it sounds like, it’s your current fitness level. You cannot go from running zero miles per week to training for a marathon. Base building is the work that comes in between zero mileage weeks and training, it’s basically pre-training.

Proper base building is a prerequisite for a successful training cycle. Base building increases your endurance, strengthens your muscles, and ensures your body is ready for tougher workouts. Having an adequate base may also lower your risk of injury.

Some training plans call for a base of 10 or 20 weekly miles before you start a training plan. But base building is about more than weekly mileage totals, it matters how you run those miles, too.

If you’re training for your first race, experts suggest focusing on speed or endurance, not both the first time around.

For example, if you’re training for your first half marathon, it’s best to concentrate on endurance. Look at your half marathon training plan to see what distance long run you begin with. If it’s 8 miles and you can only run 4 miles now, work your way 7 miles continuously before the plan starts. Do one long run each week, increasing the distance of the long run by a half mile or a mile each week. In addition, do two or three shorter mid-week runs.

I hope this helps to get you going. Please let us know how you are doing.