Running 102: Beyond The Shoes
As a beginning or re-awakened runner, you fully understand the basic requirements for progress. You have high quality shoes, comfortable running attire, and you hydrate religiously. Yes, these steps are critical for safe and effective training.
At some point, however, you will “hit the wall”. This is certain. The “wall” might be lack of progress with speed, distance, or possibly an injury issue. The following tips will help push you through these first obstacles, and elevate your running toward the next level of personal goals.
I once asked a Division I college runner for tips on running faster. He replied, “Run faster.” The advice is more logical than it seems at first glance. In reality, running an 11:50 pace instead of a 12 minute pace for a few miles is a difficult and dreadful way to increase speed. Instead, you need to develop your fast-twitch muscles for noticeable speed gains. The easiest starting method is with Mailbox Sprints. Run your normal pace for a warm-up, and then pick a mailbox down the street as the finish to an all-out sprint. At the mailbox, return to your normal pace for a minute before sprinting again to the next target mailbox. This is exhausting; don’t expect a typical length run using this method. But over time, by integrating this training technique, you will notice dramatic gains in overall speed with your normal runs.
There is not a magical tip for increasing distance. Longer runs take focus and discipline; but in reality, that is the beauty of running that you probably enjoy already. However, one tip I appreciate is having a loved one (spouse, child) create a new playlist for me. I specify the time duration, and they pick the songs. Sometimes I love the music choices, and sometimes I wonder why I had certain songs on my device in the first place. But in the end, I enjoy the surprise and anticipation of each tune. And as a second tip, consider cross-training if this is an option for you. Swimming, basketball, soccer, and tennis – among many other choices – are great for cardio and will keep all of your muscles in balance. Replacing one run per week with an alternate sport can improve both your distance and speed.
You’ve probably heard this before, but I will repeat it here. Yoga is an incredible weapon against sports injuries. Runners in particular are susceptible to extremely tight hamstring, quad, hip, and lower back muscle groups. If you are skeptical, carefully try the yoga squat. Most beginning runners – even those who stretch before and after runs – will struggle with this simple pose. It is imperative to consider yoga or similar deep-stretching routines to shield against muscle related injury.
Fighting through those early running obstacles will be a proud achievement as you reach personal goals and improve overall results at either local events, or through fun virtual races such as Will Run For Bling And Charity. We’ll see you at the finish line.