As I enjoy the rolling hills and pretty scenery of the GW Parkway Classic 10 miler this weekend, I will be reflecting on what I’ve learned from fifteen years of running. 15 years. I know some of my friends started running in high school–or even earlier–but I hated running in high school. As a senior, I was forced to join the cross-country team because I couldn’t fit P.E. into my schedule and our cotton gym shorts did not treat my thighs kindly.
My bib from the 2001 GWPC 5k
Avoiding cotton isn’t the only thing I’ve learned in fifteen years of running, although it could be the most important. Since I’m linking up with Courtney, Mar, and Cynthia, I’ll share the top five lessons I’d like to pass on to new runners.
Five Lessons From Fifteen Years Of Running
1. Training runs do not need to be at your target race pace. I started running to help maintain my weight loss and treated it like any other exercise. If I can do a 45 minutes aerobics class, I can run for 45 minutes, right? If I want to complete a 10 miler in 90 minutes, shouldn’t all of my runs be at a 9 minute/mile pace? I didn’t know about couch-to-5k programs, or that long runs were supposed to be long slow runs, and ran myself right into an ITB injury that sent me limping to a chiropractor. I am still trying to figure out how to train smart and avoid injury, but at least I know that I need to build up to longer distances and faster paces.
2. Strength training is key to healthy running. I endured several injuries before I learned to make strength training a regular part of my schedule. Now I enjoy strength training in its own right, but it wasn’t always that way. Even now, on days that I don’t wanna, I remember my ITB, and my piriformis, and do at least some of the exercises that help keep me injury-free.
3. Good running shoes are essential. I didn’t know anything about running shoes when I started running, and think it took another injury–plantar fasciitis–for me to learn how important the right pair of running shoes can be. Luckily I have a great local running store that helped me figure out which shoes work best for me, although I am still tempted to try new styles that others are raving about.
4. Compression shorts don’t ride up. When I started running in 2001, it didn’t take me long to discover Body Glide, but since then I’ve found that compression shorts do an even better job of keeping my thighs safe from each other. I have a few running skirts that work fine for shorter runs, but compression shorts are a safer bet for longer runs and races. Speaking of compression, did you see my review of Physiclo compression tights with built-in resistance training?
5. Crappy runs happen. As much as I love running, I admit that running can be frustrating. I expect every run to be as good or better than the last one, but crappy runs happen. Runs when my legs feel like lead the whole way. Runs when my breathing is hard even when my pace is slow. Runs when my pace is a minute slower than it “should” be and I can’t blame it on my Garmin. One of my friends dubbed those runs “character-building runs,” and she’s right. Accepting that crappy runs happen, pushing through them, and then moving past them and lacing up my running shoes again another day have made me a better runner–if not a better person. I even wrote a poem about it.
What lessons did you have to learn about running?