Are you ready to run? I would love to inspire one person to pick up the sport. That’s why I’m writing a running coach series. This is the first installment, or the preface.
Look for a new post, each Friday.
Fall is the very best time, in my opinion, to begin running. BUT if you’re reading this at a later time and it’s not fall, the second best time is: right now. If you can begin in the fall when the weather is cooled (well, at least everywhere else, besides Texas), it will be the perfect opportunity to allow you to slowly build up to the cold winter months and then slowly build up to the heat of the summer. You’ll have some strength and stamina ready to tackle the heat, which is exactly what you’ll need, especially if you live in the south!
No one runs before they walk. We all start in the same place: the beginning. If you want to become a runner, the journey starts here. If I can inspire one person to begin, every word on this blog will be worth it. Running is one of the best things you can do for yourself and your mind. It’s like a spotlight that will shine on your inner strengths and bring them to the surface. You will surprise, even yourself, by what you are capable of. I love to run and I want to show everyone around me, how great it is!
Today, I’m giving tips on how to begin and how to avoid the common pitfalls. This week, you’ll begin walking – see below. Next Friday, read Run Coach: Week 1.
The number one reason new runners give up is going too fast, too soon. Doing too much, which results in complete exhaustion from overexertion, which uninspires and discourages. Let’s avoid that cycle. The speed with which you move through the training is completely irrelevant. The only important thing is that you are progressing forward, not how long it takes you to move to the next phase or how fast you are running through each step. Go at your own pace, forget everything else. Every one of us is different. Not all of us are natural runners and we have to push our bodies a little harder than others. Also, just because you’re slow now, does not indicate what’s to come later. You could end up running faster than the rest of us. It’s also o.k. if you need to move at a faster pace now. Absolutely, feel free to run farther if you can and want to. This running coach is a guide and is meant to be tweaked for every individual. You know your body.
Some of us feel that we are not athletic and it’s been perpetuated by years of making that statement, ourselves. We grew up thinking we were not meant for physical activity. Did you ever hear your parents make a negative comment about you having two left feet? What we should have been taught, instead, is that we can train to be athletic; the problem is, no one helped us to do that, nor believe that. Those of us, who consider ourselves clumsy or not athletic, should stop the rhetoric today. That is the first step. Stop believing these things. We can all become athletes. We don’t have to be good enough to run the Boston Marathon, but we can all be good. Let’s quiet the mind and take action. Let’s take it one step at a time. The only thing this rhetoric does is perpetuate the sedentary life.
If you haven’t already, visit my post Preparing to Run for some information on how to go from sedentary to running. But most importantly, to read about what I refer to as mantra. It’s a very vital step in overcoming the difficulty your mind will go through over the next few-weeks. Don’t underestimate the role of your mind in your running. Your body will ALWAYS quit. Your mind will not allow it. Read Preparing to Run before we move on.
Also, you may be interested in reading my story about why and how I began to run. I’m probably more like you than you think. And you’ll see how much I struggled at first too. Read Run a Mile . . . In My Shoes.
Excuses and Obstacles:
In a perfect world, these things would not exist, but, this is reality and sigh, they do. I won’t bore you with tons of examples of this issue, I think you know what I’m talking about. We’ve all done it; come up with some reason why we can’t meet our fitness goal for that day.
It looks a little like this:
You’ve planned to go on a run and you’ve mapped out your route, put on your running clothes and you look outside to discover, it’s pouring down rain. What do you do?
Do you shrug and say “oh well” and kick off your shoes?
I hope not!
Instead, I hope you tell yourself you are a runner. A runner laces up and goes to a treadmill, indoor track or waits it out. A real runner runs. Today. Train your mentality. It’s time for tough love from yourself.
Do yourself a favor and anticipate these obstacles and commit to overcoming them before they happen. Have an emergency plan to turn to if it is raining. Or figure out what you will do if you have a super busy day? Make a plan B. Make a plan C.
The crazy thing is, once you’ve incorporated runs into your daily life and you find out you can’t go, you are downright mad about it. You’ll do anything to make it happen. Help yourself get there by powering through the beginning.
We will talk a lot about food over the next few weeks, so let’s begin with when to eat. It’s important to avoid what’s referred to as “hitting the wall”. When you run, you need energy to burn. It’s important that you eat before running, especially in the beginning stages. Your heart rate will probably be near its peak, which burns through energy reserves at a rapid rate. Now is not the time to skip a meal. It’s also not the time to eat junk food.
In a perfect scenario, you will eat a meal 2-3 hours before a run. If that’s not possible, you can eat a very small, easily digestible snack, just before. Avoid that if possible, though, since some of us are very susceptible to cramping which will probably stop you in your tracks. You’ll have to try it and see what happens. You’ll spend a lot of time, in the beginning, learning your body. All of us are different and what works for me, may not work for you. First, try running 2-3 hours after eating and see how you feel.
A few easily digestible snacks to try: banana, apple, low-fat string cheese, applesauce and fleshy fruits like nectarines.
Foods you may want to avoid just before you run: cucumbers, spicy peppers, complex carbohydrates such as oatmeal (more on this later, but for now, avoid just before running), fatty foods, greasy foods, garlic, large portions, tomato based foods and vinegar.
Large fatty meals will make you sluggish. Heavy complex carbohydrates are supposedly great, the night before, but not just prior to. I’m not a complete subscriber to carb loading, but a lot of runners do it. Fresh veggies and fruits will give your body the nutrients it needs for fuel. Eat lots of these, overall.
When you are finished running, the ideal times to eat is within one-half-hour after and again 4-hours afterward. Good choices are: carrots with humus, one boiled egg with a piece of fruit or a few Triscuits and peanut butter. Most importantly, drink water, tons of it, afterward. For most, we are so thirsty after, rehydrating is not a problem. And one more thing, your body will need a little more potassium. Some good choices are: bananas, tomatoes, lentils, white beans, humus, baked potato, orange juice or prune juice.
One of the hard things to do is get used to the breathless feeling. BUT that’s exactly what you’ll need to do in the beginning. You’ll feel winded at first, a very uncomfortable feeling, but it will dissipate over time, as your body becomes a more effective breathing machine. Your body will eventually adapt to a more efficient way of pushing air in and out of your lungs, by using your abdomen instead of your diaphragm, but until that happens, it’s going to be a little rough. Press on. Get used to the feeling and embrace it. There are a few things you can do to make it easier.
- Count breaths: in one-two, out one-two, in one-two, out one-two… and so on. If you breathe in for counts of two and out for counts of two you’ll be more controlled. I used to count with steps: in for two steps, out for two steps, in for two steps, out for two steps, you get the point. And if you need to breathe in for one and out for two or vice versa, that’s fine too, as long as you can control your breathing so it’s not gasps and it’s rhythmic.
- When you reach the point that you are no longer able to control the breath counts, you’ll need to break for a moment. You should be out of breath, but not hyperventilating at any given time.
- If you can, FOCUS all of your attention, on your breath. Focusing on your breath will help you to get through it. Running is more about your mind, than most realize.
Other Suggestions for Success:
- wear appropriate clothing to avoid overheating or wind burn
- if it’s really cold outside, cover your ears (with a cap or a band) and your hands (with gloves or even the end of your sleeves)
- wear appropriate snug clothing to avoid chafing
- drink water during your run, if possible, but do not drink a lot of it
- use the restroom, just before
- wear sunscreen if you are running outside (the stick works great and doesn’t run into your eyes as easily)
- wear running shoes that fit (a little bit loose in the toe area) and socks that are white
- use an iPod or some other music during your run
Ok, you’re ready!
THIS WEEK’S PLAN:
Spend some time on your schedule. Figure out when is the best time to fit your running into your schedule and block off the time over the next several weeks. 45-minutes to one-hour, per day is ideal. Think of this as recharge time. You don’t want to be rushed.
Walk today, for half an hour. BRISK pace means: you are walking as fast as you can, without running, and your heart rate is up. You should be breaking a sweat.
Try to recruit a friend to take the plunge with you. Success rates are way higher if you have someone to be accountable to and bolster healthy competition.
Walk today, for 45-minutes – BRISK.
Clean out all of the junk foods in your fridge and pantry. Clean up the diet in preparation for next week. Eat whole fresh fruits, have veggies with every meal, skip the sugar and high fatty foods, switch to whole grains, hydrate, cut down on alcohol, eliminate processed and eliminate soda.
Walk today, for half an hour – BRISK.
Rest. No workout today unless it’s yoga or something that promotes flexibility. BUT make sure you are not going to make yourself sore. Now is not the time to try something new.
Find your Mantra. Everyone needs one and you’ll want to have yours written down before next week.
Walk today, for 45-minutes – BRISK.
Tell someone about your intentions to start this running program. The more you make yourself accountable, the more likely you’ll follow through.
Walk today, for half an hour – BRISK – incline (5%) or walk hills in your hood, for at least half of it.
Congratulations! You made it to day 7 and you’ll be ready to begin your first week tomorrow! Get ready by putting together your favorite high paced songs on a playlist for tomorrow.
Walk today, for 45-minutes – BRISK.