Starting to Run.
A friend on twitter peppered me with questions about starting o take up running and how to do it right. Let me say that there’s no right way. Whatever works for you is good. And it’s ok to make “mistakes”. The thing that matters is just keeping at it. I made lots of mistakes and that meant my progress was probably slower than it could have been, but so what. I am what I am, I did it my way, and I learned a lot about myself. As I’ve become more interested, I’ve invested more in tools that make things easier.
Let’s take my friend’s questions one at a time:
Did you focus on specific distances for training? No. I focused on being able to run a quarter mile without dying. Then a mile, then two. I paused at two for a long time before going further. Eventually, I decided I wanted to stretch out my distance.
Tips for running on the open road? Watch out for cars. I like concrete trails best. Wear bright colors, and reflective clothes. There’s a difference between trail shoes and road shoes, and it matters more going the other way. Trail shoes still work on the road, but they’ll wear out faster.
What is your preferred running shoe? I like the Hoka One One Bondi 4, because I need a wide shoe and a lot of cushion.
How many days in a row to run, rest? These days I run 3-4 times a week and cross train 2-3 days a week, making sure that I have one day completely off for recovery. Usually Wednesday. But I’ll skip days if I’m not feeling good. Key is: listen to your body. Run through mild pain, but not through swelling. Sharp pain? take the day off or cross train.
What do you eat before a run, and how long before? The night before a long run (10+ miles for me, but whatever your longest run of the week is, that’s your long run.) I like Indian food. White rice and lean protein is the key. Others like pasta. In the morning, about 30 min before a long run, I have granola. For my shorter runs, I just make sure I’ve got any old calories on board and then go.
How to hydrate for a run? If you’re hydrating right before a run, it’s too late. The night before have plenty of water, and don’t skimp on the salt. You want electrolytes on board. Bear in mind this changes if you have medical issues. ALL of this does. For runs longer than 5 miles, I carry a 20oz (1.3 L) water bottle. For runs longer than 10 km, I also bring Clif’s Shot Bloks chews for energy.
How long before you developed a consistent running gate? I’m not sure I have one. But I’ve read that our gait improves as we continue running. I know I feel more comfortable than I used to. It takes a while.
Any strategies fro improving run times? As my first trainer said, “If you want to run faster, you have to run faster.” There’s no shortcut to just putting in effort. As time goes by and you get fitter, you will naturally run a little faster. But if you really want to improve your times, you’ve got to do speed work: short sprints, tempo runs, high intensity impact training (HIIT). You want to go faster? Spend short times going faster, until you can spend longer times going faster.
Final word? Go run. All you need is feet. No need to be perfect. No need to be fast. Just run. Life gets better.