Thursday, June 6, 2013

RUNNING 101: GET SET! A Plan for Success!

So, if you’re following along here, you are completely hydrated, all stretched, and well-equipped to run.  What’s next? 


Take a few minutes to plan and your training will go much more smoothly! 

Where will you run?  If you've already been walking or running and have a route you like, stick with that this week. If you've never run before, pick a place you can run/walk for about 15-20 minutes, then turn around. Don't worry about the distance right now.  The simplest, easiest route is to head out your front door and start your timer there.  As you get more comfortable, you might want to venture out to local trails or other interesting places to run, but to start, try and keep things as simple as possible.  Just think about where you’ll have a safe place to comfortably run/walk for about 15-20 minutes in one direction.  As simple as it sounds, just taking the time to think about where you’re going will go a long way towards getting you there!

Next, figure out which days next week you're going to run/walk. If you're really good, you can even plan the exact time. I never do that-- I have to wait and see what the weather's doing and what my day is like and how I feel.  I also have to think about my schedule and when the sun's going down.  I never know exactly what time I’ll run, but I always know which days. 

You need to choose 3 days to run with a day off in between.

Your options basically start with which weekdays work best for you:  Monday and Wednesday or Tuesday and Thursday.  Then pick your weekend day:  Monday/Wednesday runners can choose Friday or Saturday for their third day, while Tuesday/Thursday runners can choose Saturday or Sunday.  Think about your schedule, your activities, your typical week and weekend and figure out how you’ll fit in 3 days with rest days in between. 

Choose your days, and MARK IT ON THE CALENDAR! 

It's easiest if your training days are the same every week, but in real life, that may not work for you, and it's fine. Just be sure to plan to take a day off in between training days! Don't stress about the whole month, just look at next week for right now.

A great question you’re likely to have, as one of my good friends did:  "So when you say rest, so you mean no exercise? I usually go to the gym every day, elliptical weights, etc.....or is it still ok, just no running/walking?"

I really mean rest. Take the day off.

If you want to do some kind of exercise, weights (upper body) or core work, pilates, yoga... any of those would be great. But definitely no running two days in a row, and ideally, no cardio on your non-running days.

Having said that, I am the poster child for resisting rest days.
When I started this journey, almost a year ago, I was working out on an elliptical trainer every day, 7 days a week, no rest days. I did that for 5 months, and only missed 3 days, and only because I had no access to a gym those days. That's actually why I started running-- no access to a gym. I was lucky to make it that long without getting injured. I was even more lucky that I was intercepted by a friend who introduced me to running, and then once I was hooked, only agreed to help me with a training plan if I agreed to take a rest day at least once a week!

When I started, I did still do the elliptical on my non-running days, and took Saturdays completely OFF. I didn't do anything-- no weights, no yoga, not so much as a push up. Nothing. But when I started training for the half marathon, I really had to take those non-running days off as well. I do yoga or pilates, and weights (arms, abs), but that's it. No cardio.

I know, you ran today and it felt great, so you are itching to go again tomorrow, right? I've been there, trust me! But here's how it works-- when you run, tiny tears develop in the muscles you're working. On your rest days, those tears heal and your muscles grow. If you don't rest, you just keep tearing-- no healing, no growth.

At shorter distances, you'd probably be ok to do some cardio between running days. But do something that doesn't put pressure on your hamstrings, quads, calves and ankles like running does. Cycling is ok, but no spin classes!! Walking or swimming are great options!

But again, ideally... just rest!! You'll be glad you did!

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