Three Random Running Tips

Recently, a friend passed along the following request for “3 running suggestions” for newer runners.

My division at work has organized a group called “The Biggest Loser,” like the tv show. The woman running the group (pun intended) asked me if I would come and speak to them about running/training. She said most people have the idea in their mind that they want to do a race, but are too nervous/scared to actually do it. She would like me to talk about basics (shoes, schedules, etc), motivation, routes, etc. Here is where I am asking for your help!

If you don’t mind, I’m asking my running friends (all levels, distances) to email me their top 3 running suggestions. Anything from how you stay motivated to favorite post race snacks to a favorite brand of shorts. For instance, I was recently reminded that when buying running shoes, you need to go 1/2 size larger than your normal shoe.

The group is 54 people, but she said they usually draw 15-20 for their lunch seminars.

Thanks in advance for your help and in getting others to join the running bandwagon!

In hopes of not giving the same suggestions as everyone else, these were my three suggestions:

(1) Remember “It never always gets worse.”

During a training run, a race, your overall training, and life in general you will encounter low spots and difficulties. When you hit a couple of these problems in a row (and you sometimes will) it’s easy to throw a pity party and give up. Don’t! Remember “It never always gets worse.” Things are going to turn around, you just have to hold on until then.

(2) Find a metric.

Find a way to compare your current fitness to that in the recent past so that you have consistent positive feedback! While I’ve been a distance runner most of my life, I learned this valuable lesson my college coaches turned me into a sprinter. As a sprinter, lifting weights was part of my training. Three times a week, I’d hit the weight room where I would do approximately 10 different exercises. For each exercise, my training started with two sets of the exercise with 8 repetitions in each set. As I trained, I would increase from 8 repetitions per set, to 10 reps per set, and then 12 reps per set. At that point I would begin doing three sets of that exercise with 8 reps in each set. I would again increase the number of reps per set until I could do 3 sets of 12 reps of that exercise. When I felt comfortable with 3 sets of 12 reps at a given weight, I would increase the weight I lifted for that exercise while going back to 2 sets of 8 reps at the higher weight. How often I could increase the number of reps or sets depended on the exercise and the weight, but each step up often took as little as a week or two. This provided great motivation to keep lifting, as I could see quantifiable progress with each increase in reps, sets, or weight. Now you can imagine how much positive feedback I got when I was doing ten or so exercises. With so many exercises and such frequent steps up for each exercise, I ended up having at least some positive reinforcement at many, if not most, of my lifting sessions!

If you’re not racing for a long time and not running organized track workouts, you might not provide yourself with frequent opportunities to see any quantifiable improvement. A simple way to track improvement is to pick a route that you run frequently, time the route each time you run it, and record that time in a log. Don’t race the route, nor think about the time. Just run your normal running pace. If you are training consistently, you should be able to look back and see a trend that your running your loop a bit faster than you did a month or two before.

(3) One long run + one beer + one shower = bliss.

Seriously, try it. Enjoy a beer, wine, coke, OJ, or whatever when you jump in the shower after your next grueling run. Indulge a little – relax and reward yourself.

What would be your running suggestions in response to the above request?

[Folks be sure to check out the comments for other great running tips! I’ll include some of my favorites in a future post.]

There are 9 comments

  1. AJW

    1. It always feels better at the end than you think it will at the beginning.2. A bad day running is always better than a good day at work.3. If you never Start you can't possibly Finish.AJW

  2. KC

    Neat – last year a group in my office trained for a local 10K and it was fun to hear about their training and finishes. Yours is lucky to have your input.Some that I use:1. Corny but true: Just Do It. I have to use this as I try and talk myself out of a 4am run in the freezing cold. (Although a lot more expletives are involved.)2. EVERYONE has a bad day. Don't let a bad run/workout get you down. Try and take something positive away from every run too.3. Listen to your body. If it says back off, do it. Don't be stupid.

  3. angie's pink fu

    i love both yours and ajw's #3!1. it's not important how far or fast you go, just that you GO2. breathe (deep breaths help)3. bodyglide works miracles (all over your body)

  4. aharmer

    Here's my nugget. Many people are frightened to get outside to run because of the fear of what others may think or say. They're not in perfect shape so it's intimidating to put yourself out there in front of people. Tell them this is natural. Also tell them that the truth is, other runners on the road are proud of them for being out there even if they don't know them. And most non-runners are envious, wishing they were doing the same thing. Getting out the door on those first runs are the biggest, most difficult steps they will take.

  5. Lindsay Rein

    I'm not an ultrarunner, but here are my top three: 1) I need a goal. Without a goal, I'm not motivated. I pick a race, then work towards it. My first real "run" ever was July 2, 2007, and just under three months later, I ran a 10k as the last leg of a triathlon, partially because I had signed up for the darn thing and certainly couldn't back out…2) I need distraction. Knowing this about myself helps, as does my Nike+iPod. I use pace and distance and time and my music to keep me going when i run alone. If i have to work out on a treadmill, I go during prime time so I can watch tv to keep my mind occupied. 3) It's ok to walk. You don't have to go out for a run and run the whole time. This is partially because you have GOOD run days and BAD run days. One bad day shouldn'tdiscourage you from trying for a good one the next time.

  6. Jilly Bean

    1. If you're a woman who is just starting a running program, go buy yourself a running skort. It will cover the assets that you least want to share with the rest of the world. And having a new item of clothing to wear will motivate you to get those assets out the door!

    2. Schedule appointments with yourself to go running. You can tell others, "Sorry, I'm booked then," with no further explanation needed. Then keep those appointments. They are your sacred time.

    3. Choose a future race or fun run to give yourself a reason to stick with a training schedule. Maybe it has good swag, a cool t-shirt, a scenic course, or a great post-race party. When the race is drawing near, choose your next race goal. Repeat and have fun!

    Bonus tip: Smile when you run. Anything that hurts will hurt less, and you'll feel lighthearted.

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