“That was a bad 3 miler”, said no one. Ever. – Anonymous
Admit it. If you’ve ever dragged yourself through a 3 miler you didn’t finish with a feeling that it wasn’t worth it. You may have thought it was hard. But you’re also feeling like it was an accomplishment. Your body responds in a way swimming and cycling doesn’t: the heart is pounding, the muscles feel that too. Running has no back stroke, no rolling for a few minutes. For some slowing to a walk is as painful as to keeping going. There is no way to cheat point A to point B. It’s rather straightforward. Only running requires you to carry that damn weight and you’re not going to be any lightrer when you get to mile 3. It’s why when you finish your inner athlete, that deep part that makes you legit, feels like it did something. When you get good at it: swimming and biking go to another level. Running pays the rent.
How to be Good at Running: The Truths, The Way, The Plan
It’s almost the off-season so it’s a good time to take a few months and learn and practice these simple truths:
Not swimming, not running, not treadmills, not weight lifting, not anything will make you running tough as running. If you want to learn to love running, if you want to be a good runner: Run.
Run consistently. That means 3 times a week. Put a day in between of whatever else you like doing. Do this for 4 weeks and your body and mind will get tougher and stronger and running starts to become a love.
Run 3 to 4 miles. Average each run between those distances and you’ll get 100% of the benefits of running. Not 1 mile, not 6 miles, not 10 miles. Between 3 and 4. Something different is because you’re training for a race and that’s a different story.
Running injuries are no mystery. We know what causes them. We know how to fix them so they never happen again. With the exception of your shoes rarely is it caused by a thing. And rarely fixed by a thing. It is all in your body. By the way the only person that should apply Kinesio Tape to your body should be a Sports MD, Trainer or a soft tissue specialist. Kinesio tape is the Ace bandage of the 21st century: no one applies it correctly.
Injury and rest between run days have a direct correlation. Injury and increase in mileage have a direct correlation.
Never stretch cold muscles. Run 1 mile easy then stretch. Then do your next 2 or 3. Bend all joints slightly when you stretch else you’re trying to stretch connective tissue not designed or meant to be stretched. Hold each stretch for 60 seconds until the muscle has stopped fighting the stretch.
Run with music. Run without music. Run with your Garmin. Don’t. Who cares. It’s the miles that matter.
Your coach, any coach, will ask how many times you ran that week. They will not care, at first, about all the date in your Garmin or Training Log or Peaks Virtual trainer. Just how many times. If you ran twice it means your data doesn’t mean anything.
There’s lots of ways to run. But all of them boil down to a way:
“It is always best to run. Except when it is not.”, is a favorite running coach chestnut. The way to run is to run. Except if there is something which would make running not beneficial. Ponder on that during your next meditation.
Run in the rain. Talk to any New England runner and she will tell you, “Winter running is the best.” Which it is. A run in 25 degrees F is pure heaven. Ask a runner what’s it like to run in the rain and you’ll get a big smile and remembrance.
Whatever you’re wearing is perfect fpr the run. Unless you’re going 45 minutes or longer the bathrobe you’re wearing right now is fine. Just make sure you have your running shoes and socks on. Wear cotton. Wear polyester. Wear wool. Wear crotchet.
If you’re going longer than 45 minutes or it’s in rain or cold weather then go with the appropriate run gear: 40 to 60 degrees: 2 layerrs and hat, 0 degrees to 32 degrees: 3 layers, cap, gloves. Much more about this in our winter newsletter.
Head over your shoulders. Chest over your hips. Relaxed arm swing with wrists swinging past the hips. Practice this during your first mile and allow for your form to come to it naturally.
Break every run into segments: 1st mile is warm-up, 2nd mile is work, last half-mile is cool down. Whatever the distance make sure you have these three phases built in.
Never build mileage up by more than 10%. – 20%. Do not build endurance at the same time as speed.
Injury is a way. Injury and running belong together and evolve together. It is an opportunity to understand how your mechnics and physiology work. If you do not understand why you became injured you are assured additional injury will come and will progressively become worse. Injury can lead to making yourself a better and stronger runner.
Understanding the truths and seeing the way is the beginning. Now the plan:
Your first 2 or 3 weeks should include some walking built into your daily run. Start out with a 1 minute walk every 5 minutes? Why? walking helps extend your endurance while also allowing your muscles to recover and relax. This will keep you away from "starters" injury. Walking integrated into your running is known as the "Galloway" Method and is now used by professional triathletes and marathoners - there, you don't have to feel bad about doing it.
Run three times a week with a rest day built in between. The world's best running program? 3 miles on Tuesday, 3 miles on Thursday, 4 miles on Saturday. Do that and you'll get all the benefits of running and getting strong without injury. And this is your baseline you go from and build on. Where to go from there? Work with a coach.
We strongly recommend against binge running or serial day running where you must run every day. Your body gets stronger on rest days. And what to do on those rest days? Strength training: 12 x 4 pushups, 25 x 3 bicycle crunches, and pull-ups (as many as you can do - but that's a story for another day.)
Running is the activity that has been studied most and also carries the greater mythology and romance - a paradox. It is the triathlete's best weapons for training: it serves as a replacement for swims and biking and also how the body is strengthened. It is your best friend - don't be afraid of it.