Saturday, June 8, 2013

RUNNING 101: I'm ready, I'm set, now what? GO!!

But first, get your stuff ready:  water bottle, phone, headphones, get your playlist and your running app all set.  You’ve already figured out where you’re running right? 

And before you go, if you don’t remember anything else, remember this:
Your goal with each run is to finish feeling like you could have done a little more.  I know this may sound counter-intuitive if you’re used to hearing athletes and competitors talk about “leaving it all out of the field” or whatever.  That’s not what we’re after here.  Your goal is to have fun so that you look forward to your next work out!  And to come back for your next workout UNINJURED! 

Where to begin? 

WEEK 1: 20-30 minutes, 3 days this week, with a day OFF in between to rest.

You already know which days you’re running right?  Because you’ve made a PLAN and marked it on the calendar! 

Don’t worry about the distance right now.  If you’re using an app like Nike+, just set it for a “Time Run” that will track your distance but the goal is TIME.  Set it for 20-30 minutes—you’re going to have to decide which.  Before you start, know that you can walk as much of that time as you need to.  This is not a race!! 

START SLOW! You've got plenty of time to get ready, and you don't want to be dealing with an injury next week! Be sure to stretch before AND after you run. (If you haven’t already, read about FOAM ROLLING here.)

Walk for a few minutes to warm up. (If you don’t have a foam roller (yet) be sure to walk for at least 5-10 minutes to give your legs a good chance to stretch and get ready.  Then run, slowly, for about a minute (or whatever part of a minute you can manage).  Then walk for 3 minutes. (WALK, even if you feel like you could keep running. Remember-- you've got to keep this up for 20-30 minutes!)  After you walk, run for about another minute, walk for three, and so on.

At 10 minutes, you've made it halfway! Turn around and head back! Continue to run 1 minute, walk 3 for the remaining 10 minutes, and you're done! Congratulations!!

Do that three times the first week.  If it's a struggle, have faith- take it slow and it WILL get easier. If it's already easy, that's awesome! You can push a little more next week.

Personally, I don't enjoy looking at my watch while I run, but that works for a lot of people. I listen to music while I run, so I use the songs on my playlist to time my run/walk intervals.  If you prefer running to music instead of watching a clock, try this:  Walk for one song to warm up (two songs if that feels better!) Then run for the 1st verse (and chorus if you can) of the next song, then walk the rest of the song. Then run the 1st verse (and chorus if you can) of the next song. And so on, for 20 minutes. I find that much more enjoyable than keeping track of time, and while all songs are a little different length, it's OK-- it all evens out in the end.

If you want to be moving for more than 20-30 minutes, I'd suggest you still only run/walk 20 for now, and walk at the end for as long as you want to make up the difference. When I started, I was looking for an hour workout, so I'd run for about 30 minutes, and then walk until I hit one hour. It's actually a great way to cool down. But you still have to STRETCH (FOAM ROLL!!) when you get home!

And drink LOTS of water!!!  Try to drink a bottle of water while you run, and then drink another bottle when you finish.   



Week 2 will look a lot like Week 1, with maybe some minor adjustments.  

A few things to think about:

1.  Figure out which days your running and resting.  Same days as last week, or do you need to change it up? 

2.  How did last week feel?  If it was a struggle at all, repeat Week 1 exactly the same way.  Don’t try to increase anything, just do the same thing and see if it feels any easier.  Celebrate even the smallest improvements!  They will multiply, I promise!!

3. If last week felt good, do exactly the same thing, but instead of 10 minutes out, shoot for about 12. That should put you right around 25 minutes total. If you're running to music, that's just about one more song! Keep the same intervals-- about 1 minute of running, 3 of walking (if you’re using music to keep track, that's the first verse (chorus optional) running, walking the rest of the song.)

4. If you felt like this week was too easy, try running a little longer.  (the first verse + the chorus, or add 30 seconds).  The times don’t have to be precise, as long as you know what you did before, and how to increase it but just a little bit.  And if you run longer for the first half or your work out and begin to struggle, know that you can always walk a little more if you need to in the second half.  There is no rule that says that if you start out running for 1.5 minutes and walking for 3 that you can’t drop back to 1 minute/3 minutes if you need to.  You can also pick it up to 1.5/3 again at the end if you recover and are feeling good!  Do what feels right for YOU!! 

Remember your goal is to finish feeling good, like you could have run a little farther! (not exhausted!) Don't worry about speed, just shoot for extending your run/walk time to 25-35 minutes total.  Walk when you’ve planned for a walk break, not when you’re at the point of exhaustion (by then, it’s too late to recover well!)  If you feel like you could have pushed more, awesome!  Do that next time.  If you get hurt or burned out, there is no next time! 

And that’s your first two weeks.  DONE! 

What next?  More of the same… and then some!

Every week, follow the same plan all 3 days.  If it’s a struggle at all, stick with that plan the next week. 

If you’re feeling good and you’re ready to do more, increase your total workout time by about 5 minutes or one song.  In general, I’d suggest keeping the intervals the same until your total workout is at 45 minutes of running/walking for 1 minute/3 minutes.  If you’re starting at 20 minutes, it will take you about 6 weeks.  In that time, you are more than DOUBLING your workout!!  That’s awesome!! 

Why 45 minutes?  That’s a pretty reasonable time for anyone to finish a 5K, even if you’re at at super crowded race with a slow start and lots of hills and you end up walking most of it.  So if you build up your endurance first, you’ve got the 5K, no problem! 

Once you’ve built your endurance to a 45 minute work out, then you can work on increasing your run/walk intervals.  You don’t even have to wait till you’re actually at a 45 minute workout—you can run a little longer for some of your running intervals on any given day (in fact, if you’re using music to time yourself, you probably will run longer for some intervals because some songs are longer than others!)  I’m just saying, don’t focus on extending all of your running intervals until you’re comfortable moving for 45 minutes. 

When you’re ready to increase your intervals, go for it!  Increase for an extra 30 seconds, or an extra verse of a song, or just part of a verse or whatever feels good.  And you don’t have to do longer intervals for the whole 45 minutes.  There are no “interval police” watching!!  Remember your primary goal: finish strong so you can come back next time!!

What about tracking and that Nike+ app?
By all means, track your progress!!  Get yourself a running log and keep track of every run, every mile, your pace and your distance.  I never encourage anyone to push for a certain pace or distance, but by all means, KNOW what you are doing so you can SEE yourself improve!!!  And improve you will!!  If you stick with it, and you keep increasing your workout time (endurance), those other numbers will take care of themselves! 

What if I'm struggling?

The first couple of weeks were fine, but something about 40 minutes is daunting and you’re dying at the end?  Two words:  SLOW.  DOWN.  This is truly my answer for everything! 

I am not a super fast runner to begin with, but a speedy clip for me is a 10:00 mile.  I’ve run as fast as a 9:20 mile.  And I’ve had days where I couldn’t go any faster than 13:20 if I was being chased by zombies!  It’s ALL GOOD!  

Different days will feel different.  When I first started, my Tuesdays were usually pretty fast (I think I was rested up from the weekend) and Thursdays were slow for some reason.  My weekend run could go either way.  I learned to just take it all in.  Look at the numbers, yes.  But don’t be ruled by them.  So, your pace is slower today than last week—how did you feel?  If you felt sluggish, then it all makes sense.  If you felt great, that’s awesome no matter what the clock says!  I’ve had days where I felt "just OK" and ran a PR (Personal Record.  You’ll also see runners refer to PB, Personal Best.  When you first start out, you’ll hit a lot of these—celebrate every single one!!) 

What about pain?

I know, you’ll hear a lot of runners talk about running thru pain.  I am not one of them.  Being a little tired or uncomfortable is one thing, but I am not an advocate of running through pain. It's almost become a joke around here, when I come in from a run my kids will say, "How was your run?" And I always respond, "It was excellent." And I mean it! I may struggle with my schedule, my attitude, the weather or whatever before I run, but when I finish, I always feel better than when I started. And I make sure I always finish feeling like I could have done more. Even when I run 16 miles!

Be sure you're foam rolling before and after you run, be sure you're resting on days between running days (no running two days in a row!!) and be sure you're drinking your water.  If you've got pain that doesn't ease up, go see a doctor.  But if you're just uncomfortable from moving muscles that haven't been moved in a while (and only YOU can know that) give it some time, take it easy, and it should get easier as you go! 

Everybody ready?
I know it's all a lot to take in!  Just keep in mind: warm up, run for about a minute, walk for 3 minutes.  Repeat that pattern for a total of 20 minutes.  Walk more as you need to, especially at the end.  Drink lots of water.  Stretch.  Rest for a day.  Come back again the next day! 

Please let me know how you do so I can cheer you on!!!

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