Each morning for the past six weeks I’ve seen more and more new runners out on the local trails, paths and roads. In a time of great uncertainty, people jogging is a welcome sight. Maybe you’re out running because your gym is closed, or you have always wanted to run and never had the time, or you just need to relieve some stress and get some fresh air. At Trails and Tarmac our goal has always been to get the world running, and today is always the best day to start.
Our running philosophy is based on the words of pioneering runner and coach Arthur Newton, “Nearly all of us dash into it (running) hoping for and expecting results which are quite unwarranted. Nature is unable to make a really first-class job of anything if she is hustled”
**Running is not for everyone. it may be important for you to talk to a medical professional before beginning. And please, follow your local protocols regarding outdoor activity, closures and be diligent with social distancing measures.
Running isn’t complex, but many people still get derailed by things that can be avoided. Here are some guidelines to “let nature do a first class job” as you begin with this oddly simple sport!
- Run Easy: Forget everything you thought about running. Forget running the mile in PE, forget the TV commercials with a sweaty runner huffing and puffing as they sprint down the road. To start running, start easy. Easy might mean walking, easy might mean jogging and then taking walk breaks, easy might mean going around the block, But for now, going easy is the only goal. Easy should feel…sort of easy, you should feel like you are in control of your breathing. Go at a pace where you can talk while running. If you start getting out of breath, slow down and walk for 60 seconds. Don’t worry about changing your form, or how you look. Just walk, jog, or run, but do it in a relaxed way.
- Keep going easy, even when you don’t want to: After running easy for a few weeks, running easy will begin to feel easier! You will feel good, and want to go faster. This typically happens on a sunny day after you have had a nice cup of coffee. When this feeling arises, be cautious. Going faster is fine, but ONLY if the same easy effort is maintained.
- Build gradually: At some point you will likely want to run more. This is great, but only if you are ready to run more. If you have been running 20 minutes three days a week for a month, don’t go do 60 minutes a day just because you feel good. Add minutes gradually. You may already be a super aerobically fit person, maybe you ride or swim or spend hours in the gym. Running is a little different. While initially the running might feel easy, you should still build gradually. The soft tissue that is stressed by the impact of the running motion takes time to develop.
- Alternate run duration: Measuring your training by time is a great way to begin. Don’t worry about hitting a certain mile or kilometer mark each day, instead measure your runs by minutes. Alternate between runs of longer and shorter duration. For example,
Monday: 10 minutes alternating each minute jogging and walking
Tuesday: 20 minutes alternating each minute jogging and walking
Thursday: 10 minutes alternating each minute jogging and walking
Friday: 20 minutes alternating each minute jogging and walking
Sunday: 30 minute walk
- Trust the process: Running is about consistency. All new runners must run easy to be consistent. There is absolutely no reason to run too hard, you won’t achieve better fitness, diffuse more stress, or get a stronger heart. Running easy yields all the benefits of running, with a lower chance of injury or burnout. There will be a time, if you choose, to test your limits, to hammer up hills and to dig deep, it will be really fun, but the time is not yet.
- Be flexible but persistent: Allow for flexibility with your running schedule, but be persistent. Set a routine, do your exercise at a similar time each day and don’t skip it. Life will arise and derail your day occasionally, that’s normal, but don’t let unforeseen events or excuses derail your whole running plan. Somedays you won’t want to go out. Sometimes the hardest thing is just lacing up the shoes and stepping out the door. Get out there, just jog to the end of the block, it will be worth it, you will thank yourself.
- Track your progress: In his famous 948 page work, The Lore of Running, Tim Noakes writes, “The runners log book serves the same function as a scientist’s notebook, for it records the result of each day’s experiment. When sufficient raw data has been collected, the data can be analyzed, theories developed and new experiments planned.” There are plenty of online apps that track your fitness, or you can just use an old fashioned paper and pencil. Regardless of what you use, track what you do every time you go, write down how you felt and how much time you spent walking or running. In terms of tracking technology, at this point you probably don’t need a GPS watch, your iphone has plenty of apps that will track your run.
- Shoes: Good shoes will make this journey a lot easier, comfortable and more fun. Local running shops are great hubs for beginning runners, the people who work at these shops love running and want you to enjoy running. When I worked at Rogue Valley Runners, people came in looking for shoes and would often start with, “I’m not a runner but I’m hoping to start”. First off, in the words of Bill Bowerman, “If you have a body you are an athlete.” Regardless of your athletic history. Be confident that this is a community you belong to. Running shops are about the most welcoming places in the world, and they are there for you. Now, of course many are closed right now, but some shops are available for help and orders over the phone.
- Strive, don’t compare: Maybe you used to run, and now can’t run for a minute at the pace you used to run for an hour, maybe you see friends running 5K’s and you are not ready to jog to the end of the block. Who cares!? I’ve been on a Brene Brown binge lately and think this quote is applicable, “Healthy striving is self-focused: “How can I improve?” Perfectionism is other-focused: “What will they think?” Don’t even compare your runs to the runs you did a week before. Be patient. Be positive. Let nature do its thing.
- Consider: A few times in my life people have asked me why I run. It’s one of those questions that leads to the answer, well if you have to ask, you might never get it. So I’m not going to ask you to go meditate or journal on why you have begun this journey, but it is worthy of consideration.You don’t have to know your reasons, but at least consider them. The more you know about your motivations, the less you will feel the need for motivation to get out the door when you don’t want to.
It’s going to feel good when you do something you didn’t know you could do. Let the jogging revolution begin. We are all running with you and cheering for you.
For information and guidance to running during the time of COVID-19 see below link.
More running and training articles by the Trails and Tarmac coaches here