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.]