August 3, 2010

Are You Ready to Run?

I started running about 11 years ago. It seriously changed my life. But this year (after running the Memphis Marathon in December) I went through the worst slump I've ever experienced. I did NOT want to run! In fact, it's just been recently that I've even felt the desire return. At the same time I've been noticing that many of my friends are trying the "Couch to 5K" program. I don't know whether or not you're facing a slump like me or maybe even considering running for the first time. Either way, I thought I'd give some tips to help you find the greatest potential for success. The following are my opinions:

1. Shoes - Make sure you have GOOD running shoes. And when you buy them, don't go to Finish Line or Dick's - go to a store where the people fitting you are runners (Fleet Feet, First Gear, The Runner, etc...). They check your stride, gate, & many other factors that determine the type of shoe you need. Do NOT compromise when it comes to shoes.

2. Eliminate Excuses - If you're like me and you exercise in the morning, lay your clothes out the night before. This way (when you wake up) your running shorts & shoes are laying on the floor next to your bed saying, "You promised!" This helps eliminate excuses. If you run at night, lay your clothes on your bed before you go to work. You can't pull down the covers without remembering your commitment.

3. Beat the Heat! One thing I've concluded is that a big part of this slump I've gone through has had to do with the heat. 12-15 years ago I was playing sand volleyball in the Texas summer heat all day. If I tried that now, I'd be dead. Running early in the morning or late in the evening is your best defense. But there are a few other things you can do as well. Take a damp bandana & put it in the freezer 15 minutes before you go. The roll ice cubes into the bandana right before you leave. Also, you should be wearing a hat or sweat band to keep sweat from running into your face. Put it in the freezer as well. Dri-Fit clothing can also play a big part in helping you stay cool. Whatever you do, don't go running when it's 104 degrees out. That's just stupid!

4. Set a goal - When I began running 11 years ago I was running 1-2 miles, 4-5 days a week. I used to think running 5 miles was a ridiculous idea. When my wife ran her first marathon I thought she was crazy. I've now run 3! If your goal is a 5K, great. But don't think you need to run that far immediately. Set small goals that you can accomplish over several weeks. 

5. Accountability - Tell someone else about your commitment. Better yet, get them to commit to it with you. Once someone you love & trust knows about the decision you've made, it will be a lot harder to give up. Which leads to my last word of encouragement.

6. Don't Give Up! - You can do this! You've got what it takes. You need this not only for your physical health but because of what it will do for you mentally and emotionally. That serotonin in your brain wants out of there! Even if you have to take a day off - a week off - alternate walking & jogging - go to the gym and hit the treadmill - do NOT give up!

Hopefully you're ready to lace up your shoes and hit the pavement. If you're not a runner, no big deal. But do something! For your heart, your health and your sanity. Even if you're not doing the "Couch to 5K" plan, get off the couch! You won't regret it.

Maybe you've got some other tips or words of encouragement. Let's hear it!

2 comments:

Wistful Writer said...

What an encouraging few days...first the spiritual food on Sunday and now this blog that hits home on the physical front. Thanks. We've really enjoyed our return to The Brook. Linda Safford

Chris Archinal said...

awesome stuff Brian! the other thing i'd say is sign up for a race! if you sign up you have a commitment to keep.