The Basics of Running

The good folks over at The Runners Lounge have executed a pretty cool experiment.  The concept is that every Thursday (called Take it and Run Thursday) readers contribute content on a specific topic.  This week’s topic (the first ever!) was, appropriately, “The Basics of Running”.

If you head on over there, you can check out a whole passel of contributions.  Here’s mine…

  1. Get good shoes. No, really. Figure out what the best specialty running store in your town is and go in there and get fit to a shoe by someone who knows what they’re doing.  If you love your knees (and your feet!) you will do this.  The most basic aspect of running that I can think of is the simple act of the rubber meeting the road – putting one foot in front of the other.  The relationship between the bottom of your shoe and the pavement should be the best it can possibly be.
  2. Find community. I prefer to run alone these days, but I started running with a cross country team and I cannot begin to tell you how meaningful it is to have someone to endure the pain with (and then dish about it afterward).  Even if you don’t run with someone find a runner in your life that you can talk to about how things are going.  Accountability, sympathy, and motivation will do wonders for your running.
  3. Stick with it. Running gets easier with time.  I mean this both in the sense that running gets easier over the course of months as you do it consistently, and also in the sense that running during a single, individual workout, will get easier after the first few minutes or miles.  Some people warm up faster than others.  Me?  I take a good 2 miles before I feel remotely comfortable on a run.  I have learned this over time and I stick it out.  When the switch flips during mile three, I’m always glad I did.
  4. There will always be someone faster or slower than you. It’s not about that.  Run for you, not for other people.  Work towards your own PRs, set your own goals, stay focused on what’s important.
  5. LISTEN to your body. Running is hard on the human body.  Harder on some than others.  Protect your joints by getting good shoes (see #1), building up your mileage slowly, and taking action when things don’t feel right.
  6. Form the habit. Similar to sticking with it, but a little different.  You will not always be motivated to run.  This is where a habit comes in handy.  Habits don’t demand motivation – you do habitual activities because you are used to doing them, because it’s just how you roll – it’s not a question.  What do we know about habits?  They’re hard to form and hard to break. Use your stick-with-it-ness from number three to form a strong habit – research shows it will take about 2-3 months.  Hang in there.  Get it done.
  7. Don’t forget joy. As a runner who has run for all kinds of various reasons (competition, anxiety-management, survival, joy) I can say without hesitation that joyless running is a disgrace to the sport.  Running for joy does not mean you will always be happy – or that it will always feel good – or that it might not get extremely intense now and then – but it does mean that you run from a pure heart, with pure motivation, and a true love of your body with all its capabilities and limitations.
  8. Set specific goals. The easiest way to do this is to sign up in advance for a race.  There – you’ve done it – you’re in.  Now you know why the hell you are out here (besides the joy thing, of course ;)
  9. Know that you are capable of far more than you ever imagined. We sell ourselves short all the time.  We consistently underestimate ourselves.  You’re pretty phenomenal, take it from me.  And you’ll be surprised what you can accomplish.  Take the risk.  Push on your walls.  Dream big.  And then bigger.  Seriously.  Go crazy.  I swear – you can do it.

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  1. Great post and addition to Take it and Run Thursday! Thanks Heidi!

  2. Nice post. I especially agree with your “Stick With It” point. So often I don’t feel like going out running, but after a little while, I’m loving it.

  3. Great post. Five has been the story of my life these past few months, seven might be the most important, but nine is most definitely my favorite.

    Everybody needs to remember nine, then get out and prove it to the world, and themselves.

  4. This was really good, Heidi — simple (not simplistic) advice. I really like #9 and have found that to be true for me. When I started running seriously in July 2003 (I had run off and on for many years), I thought it would be stretching it to be able to walk 5 minutes, run 40 minutes, and walk 5 minutes. I just couldn’t imagine that I would EVER run a half marathon but did in Sept ’07.

  5. Very well written! I have a tough time with #4, especially now that I’m a little (um..) larger than in the past! Great blog by the way!

  6. This is a great list! I’m a new runner, so I like reading stuff like this (especially #9!).

    I found your blog through the link at Workout Mommy’s site!


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