Do any of these sound familiar?
“I’m going to run a marathon.”
“I’m going to finish a triathlon.”
“I’m going to get my Ph.D.”
“I’m going to write a novel.”
“I’m going to get promoted to CEO.”
As runners (or aspiring runners), many of us are Type-A personalities and we establish some pretty lofty goals for ourselves in all areas of our lives. The risk of setting the bar sohigh is we stand a decent chance of slamming our heads squarely into that bar if we are not physically and mentally prepared to meet the challenge. Most of us have a good idea how to prepare physically, but how do you approach a major undertaking and break it all down into mental chunks that are not so overwhelming?
After I became an avid distance runner, I decided to take on the challenge of writing a novel. Initially, the thought of cranking out tens of thousands of words and subjecting myselfto public scrutiny seemed daunting to say the least. However, I discovered that when I approached writing in the same way I approach a distance race, everything became manageable. In fact, I broke my novel down into 26.2 “miles” in place of chapters because I found similarities in the projects. My suggestion to those who have set ambitious goals that may seemunachievable – whether it be a distance race, losing that extra 20 pounds, or getting your law degree – is to employ a 13.1 step,mental half-marathon approach.
Understand Your Goal
Research what you need to do, how best to get there, and how much time it will take
Choose the Right Gear
Make sure you have the right tools for the task. Whether it’s that new pair of trail shoes, or that fancy laptop, your journey will be much more difficult without the right equipment
Don’t try to go out on day 1 and run 10 miles if you just ran your first 5K. Similarly, don’t start your new job and immediately tell your boss that you are going to run the company in a few months. Neither of those approaches turn out well.
Get Started, But Take One Mile At A Time
When you toe the starting line, don’t think of the 13.1 miles ahead of you. Just think of getting to the first mile marker or first water station. When you focus on the attainable, the seemingly-unattainable suddenly becomes reachable.
Move at A Conversational Pace
A common piece of advice for runners is: If you cannot hold up a conversation, your pace is too fast. In the office, if you cannot find time to talk to family, friends, and coworkers, you may want to slow down. You might miss something important or burn out.
Compete Against Yourself, Not Others
Life isn’t fair. Ryan Hall is crazy fast. Lebron James will dunk over you every time. Your boss might like your office rival more than you. Deal with it and do the best you can for you. You can only control so much.
Train for the Hills!
If you aren’t prepared for the tough spots, you’ll find out soon enough.
The Further You Go, The More The Crowd Around You Thins Out (Know the map)
When you start off on your endeavor, you are bound to have to navigate through a lot of clutter. Be patient, because the farther you get, the more flexibility you will have on your path.
Eat a Powerbar, go on a vacation, have a beer with a friend. Nothing’s worse than hitting the wall because you pressed too hard.
Enjoy the Scenery
What good is it to run a race in a new city if you aren’t going to take a look around? It’s a cliché, but the journey really can be as nice as getting to the destination.
Reassess Your Goal According to the Conditions
Did you pull a hamstring in the middle of your training plan? Did your child get sick and your mind wasn’t really in that big presentation you gave? There is no shame in giving yourself a break and seeing if your goal needs to be reassessed.
When You Feel Faint, Slow Down
Listen to your body and to you mind. The best stories told usually don’t end with, “… and then I woke up in the hospital.” Although, there are some pretty funnyexceptions. J
Maintain Proper Form
Keep your head up, your back reasonably straight, and move forward. If you lean too far toward the finish, you may fall flat on your face. Bend over backwards too much, and you’ll be looking at the sky.
13.1 Run Through The Finish Line, Not To It.
Once the goal is in sight, make one last lunge to make sure you finish strong. You haven’t finished until you are completely across that line.
Whatever approach you take, the main thing is to keep moving toward a goal. Every race has its obstacles, even if they are only in our own minds. Whether it’s running a marathon or writing a book, it’s always toughest to get started again once youcome to a complete stop.
J.J. Hensley is the author of RESOLVE, a thriller set in modern day Pittsburgh against the backdrop of the Pittsburgh Marathon. As a former police officer and Special Agent with the U.S. Secret Service, he has drawn upon his experiences in law enforcement, and a love of distance running, to create a novel full of suspense and insight. Visit him at www.hensley-books.com, www.facebook.com/hensleybooks, and on Goodreads. Resolve is available on Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com, and several other outlets.
Mr. Hensley is currently working on two other novels: Measure Twice and Hedonistic Calculus. He lives with his beautiful wife, daughter, and two dogs near Pittsburgh, PA.
By Craig Weyrich, PT, NASM-PES
I am a runner. I started running when I was 13 and it has been my passion ever since. When I finished competing in college, I studied physical therapy so I could help injured runners. Years later, I started coaching middle school cross country and track so I could pass on my love of running. As the popularity of running continues to grow, people frequently ask me for the best way to start running. The physical act of running is a simple one, but successfully starting a running program can be daunting without some guidance. The purpose of this article is to help you, the new runner, hit the road with confidence and maybe develop a love for running along the way. Below, I have outlined some items that I feel are essential for the new runner (or any runner for that matter). I will attempt to keep the list brief to stop myself from droning on, but I welcome questions and comments as I hope to regularly provide advise and content to this forum in the future. So, in no particular order, here we go:
· Be safe. First off, make sure your cardiovascular system is ready to start running. It's a good idea to get a physical and share with your doctor that you are starting a running program to rule out any problems that may make running unsafe for you. This especially applies to the guys as we tend to not get regular check-ups as often as women. Also, be safe when you are on the run. Be aware of your surroundings and run with others, or at least let people know your route and when you expect to be back.
· Have a plan. You are much more likely to be consistent and more successful if you have a plan to follow. It is a lot harder to skip a workout if it is in writing (a commitment to yourself) than if you make it up as you go. There are many good places to get a training plan. Many running stores offer walk to run or couch to 5K groups regularly. Books and websites also offer good beginning programs (runnersworld.com, jeffgalloway.com are good starts). You can also find a personal coach to devise a plan for you, just make sure they are either USATF or RRCA certified. Where ever you get your plan, put it on a calender, check it regularly, and stick to it.
· Get fitted. Go to a quality running specialty store to get fitted for your shoes. Running is a fairly inexpensive sport overall (although it is easy to go overboard!), so don't cheap out on your shoes. A running shoe specialist will ask you questions, check your foot type, and maybe even watch you run on a treadmill to make sure they get you in the right shoe. They are generally passionate about running as well and genuinely want to get you in a pair that will work best for you. The right shoes can help you stay injury-free, don't chance it at a department store to save a few bucks. Also be aware that most shoes are only good for 300-500 miles depending on the model, so keep track and change out your shoes when appropriate. The supportive material inside the shoe can break down long before the outside looks overly worn.
· Start slow. Probably the most common cause of injury I see in new runners comes from progressing too fast. If you are not accustomed to running, it can take a few weeks for your body to adapt. If you do too much too soon, you are setting yourself up for an injury. A good rule of thumb is to increase mileage/running time by 10% per week. This can be tough early on when dealing in such small increments, but it is better to start out slow than to push too hard and be sidelined.
· Have a goal. Make at least one, and make it measurable. I usually encourage my kids to make three: one that is fairly obtainable even if everything isn't perfect, one that is challenging, but can be done with hard work and considerable effort, and one that is possible, but very difficult to accomplish (one that you'd be ecstatic if you got, but won't be disappointed if you don't). I would keep the goals running specific (complete a certain distance, run a certain time, run a certain distance with x number of walking breaks). Although your overall goal may be to lose weight, there are too many other factors involved to hold your running accountable for that goal alone. If you make weight loss a goal, make sure you have other running goals on top of it.
· Keep a journal. Running journals are great tools and can help you keep track of what is working when things are going well and help you figure out the problem when things are not. Keep track of mileage, time spent running, conditions you ran in, how you felt. You can even keep track of what you ate prior to running and what shoes/equipment used. The more detail the easier it is to pick up on patterns. Make sure you include the good and the bad. Training mistakes are going to happen, journals help you learn from them.
· Be Patient. The human body hates change. Running forces changes. You will be uncomfortable, possibly sore. It will be hard at first, but if you stick with it your body will adapt and it will get easier. It takes about three weeks for these adaptations to occur, so stay consistent and it will happen. Have you ever gone to a health club in the 1st week of January? It's packed. By week 3 it usually starts to thin out. People get frustrated that they aren't noticing changes and quit. Convince your body you are in for the long haul and it will reward you with increased strength and stamina, fail to be consistent and the changes will not come and running will stay hard.
· Discomfort is okay, pain is not. As stated in the last paragraph, starting something new (particularly running) can be uncomfortable. Muscle soreness, cramps, and maybe even blisters can be expected, but sharp pains or discomfort that lasts for days is abnormal. Seek medical attention early before it turns into a bigger problem (Accelerated Rehabilitation Centers offer free injury screens at all locations 1-877-97-REHAB). I will also do a series soon on common running injuries to help prevent some of the more common running ailments.
· Don't stop at just running. Supplemental training outside of running can pay huge dividends in injury prevention and performance. Many running injuries can be traced back to weak core muscles or poor mobility. A simple core program a few days a week can go along way towards helping prevent bio-mechanical breakdowns. In future posts I can cover some key exercises to help enhance your running success.
So, there you have it, my list of essentials for starting a running program. It is by no means all-inclusive, and hopefully not too overwhelming. Once again I welcome questions, comments, or suggestions for future topics. I look forward to helping enhance your running experience in the future. Happy running!
Craig Weyrich is a licensed physical therapist and USATF certified coach in Yorkville, Illinois.
My name is Megan, I am 32 and this is my story:
Have you ever been riding in your car, air conditioning on full blast, music blaring and seen one of those "crazy people" running down the road? All you think is, why are they running? You quickly glance in the rearview mirror. There has to be someone wielding a knife chasing them, but there is no one. So for the rest of your cool drive you are thinking how that runner must have a screw loose, running covered in sweat, looking uncomfortable, maybe a little miserable even and how you could NEVER do that. Heck your thighs rub together and belly jiggles just walking to the couch. I lovingly have referred to those as "chub rub" and "bingo wings" over the years and running was what you did, only if being chased and after being certain the person in pursuit didn't have a gun.
All of this changed when I decided I was worth more than being the girl on the sidelines. I had friends who ran and talked about the elusive "runners high" and I was convinced this same high was found in a good chocolate milkshake. Needless to say, it wasn't. My weight and sloth like tendencies were proving that more and more each day. I joined Weight Watchers at 309lbs and when I hit 30 lbs down I decided to reward myself, not in the usual "binge on my favorite foods" way, but instead I saw a coupon for a 5k and went for it. This was not your everyday 5k. This was the Pretty Muddy Women's mud run in Oct. 2012. I convinced (maybe even conned) 3 friends to do it with me and cursed the whole way wondering what I was thinking. I cant even tell you the elation I felt crossing that finish line. I couldn't walk for the next 2 days but I was already wanting to do another race.
I hadn't trained for that 5k. Hell, I hadn't even walked around my neighborhood. I knew that if I was ever going to do something like that again, I was going to need to get in better shape. So in December 2012, I joined a gym. I would walk my 20min miles and be bored. So I added in some jogging. Then I added spin class, then yoga, and weight lifting I was feeling stronger and looking better. I was only jogging 10-20 seconds at a time but, holy cow I was doing it!!!
Then came the knee pain, the hip pain and the back pain. What!? I was losing weight and building muscles.How could this be happening? Then the blisters came. So I timidly entered the new running store across the street from the gym. I was nervous about it. Heavy people don't run and runners are an elite group of people. I felt I had no right to enter their inner sanctum. Boy was I wrong! The staff at Lucky Foot not only got me in the right shoes but they made me feel good about the steps I was taking. (Pun intended)
In March 2013 I did my second 5k. With my father in law coaching me along, I completed it with my fastest pace ever, 13:41. Yes it is slow but I had never even done that in those mandatory gym class miles. I was dumbfounded. Plus, with the right shoes I didn't have any pain. I could conquer the world that day.
Next up was the 10k in April. Of course I chose the 8th largest road race in the US (go big or go home right??) I was stoked, my 4 woman team from the pretty muddy was now 6 and we wore tutus! My goal was to finish it. Which I did in under 2 hours. Again it was slow, who cares, I was faster than those people sitting on the couch watching the race on TV. I got high fives from my friends from Lucky Foot at their tent. I got cheered on by the thousands of people out there. I was a rock star but was I a runner yet?
Since then I have done another 5k and an 8k. I still walk most of it. We always wear our tutus. The team TuTu Many Races had 15 members at our last race. My goal is to do one race every month. I even have my sights set on maybe doing a half marathon in November. (Does this make me crazy??) I know I am slow but the short jogs have turned into minute runs. I was always saying I am a "runner" (notice the quotations). Until one day I read a quote that basically said if you just run one or two steps, you are a runner. I spoke to people I thought were "true runners" and they said I was a runner. They embraced me with open arms. They gave me advice, encouragement, and support. They told me I inspire THEM. What!?! (That made my brain explode.) I have people on Facebook tell me I inspire them too and ask to join my team. How can I inspire anyone?
Since my newfound love of running I have found I am more excited to try new things to keep me active. Just last week I was in the Outer Banks on vacation. I ran almost every morning. I even did a quick beach run (which is extremely difficult,) but my biggest accomplishment was climbing the dunes at Jockeys Ridge. I have been to the Outer Banks the last 18 years and always thought there was no way I could (or would) do that. This year I said to myself, "you are a runner now, you can do anything" and so I climbed the first one with my husband. He looked at me and said "wanna do another?" And we did. There are no more limitations for me and I conquered something that I swore to myself I could not even attempt.
I am still 267 lbs. I have a long way to go on my weight loss journey. The difference is now I have more of a sense of self. I know where I am going and how many steps it will take. I have new paths and trails to lead me there. I have made new friends along the way. I have joined Facebook groups to ask my questions and inspire me. I found that I there is a plethora of people to ask for support. I have, more than anything, found that runners aren't really an "elite group" like I originally thought. Runners are more than happy to show you how to find your way. They welcome you into their family like you have been there the whole time and I kinda think we have. A part of me always wanted to be a runner and it breaks out every time I jog to that next mailbox and decide to keep on to the next. It comes out one step at a time. But it always comes and it fights with the part of me that doesn't want to keep on. But... When my inner runner wins, I know that I AM A RUNNER and I can conquer anything and there will never be too many races, instead there will always be TuTu Many Races.
Authored By: Kathy Schilichting Sanford of Moving = Winning
I am a newbie when it comes to running. In fact I don't really think of myself as runner at all, really. More of a "jog/walker." I do try to walk quickly, though, when I take those breaks in my routes. I still am not sure what really finally got me out the door in my running shoes all those months ago - but I am becoming more and more glad that it happened.
I generally run in the mornings. I know myself well-enough to realize that once I am up and dressed in my work clothes the last thing that I am going to break away from my day to do is any kind of exercise. Basically I roll out of bed and into my sweats and running shoes and head out the door. Fortunately it is usually still pretty dark outside because I am sure I am rather scary looking. But like I mentioned in my earlier post "If You are Moving - You Win!!", as long as I am moving I have accomplished my main goal.
There are many things I am discovering I like about running. One of the biggest things that has surprised me is how well running handles pretty much any emotion I might be going through on a given morning. And I have run the gambit - anger, heartache, happiness, frustration, confusion, joy and so on. Running takes each emotion - puts it through it's paces and leaves me in a much better place when we are finished.
Anger was big early on for me. I pushed myself pretty hard on days when that was my driving emotion. The thing about anger, though, is that it requires energy. And, interestingly enough - so does running. After a morning of running I discovered that somewhere along the way my anger had petered out and I was in a better frame of mind to take on whatever awaited me that day.
Heartache and sadness are no match for running, either. I have done several morning runs with tears streaming down my cheeks and sobs forcing me to slow to a walk. Yet when I kept going eventually the tears and sobbing would run their course. The wind would dry my face and I could take a deep breath and begin my day with a renewed strength to carry on.
Running has allowed me the time to work through frustration and confusion in my life. It is dedicated time by myself where my mind can work through problems that I could not focus on any other time of day because life in general is too distracting. Often something that is disturbing or perplexing at the beginning of a run will be much more manageable by the end of it.
The best runs, though, have been happy or joyful runs. Those are the days when my attitude is good and I've had enough sleep. On those mornings my running stretches are longer, my walks are quickest, my mood is bright and the whole experience is just amazing. I love those runs. They don't happen every time I go out which makes them all the more precious when they do come.
So, I will keep running - loving the fact that no matter what I am feeling - running can handle it and I will be in better shape in more ways than one when I am done.
A random collection from the world of RunJunkEes