Updated: Sep 11, 2019
With our Rattle Me Bones 2019 Run right around the corner, here are some considerations as you prepare for the run!
Step 1: Set realistic goals
If you’re new to running, don’t be outlandish with your goals! If you want to run a 5k in 2 weeks, but you’ve never laced up a pair of Nike’s, ask yourself if that’s possible for your general fitness level. It’s not impossible, but a couch-to-5k in a short amount of time can be very harmful both for your body and your mental health. Take baby steps.
If you’re participating in a last-minute race, then try a 5-minute jog to 2-minute walk ratio. Or a 2-minute jog to 5-minute walk ratio. Take it easy - and enjoy the run crowds! People line up to cheer on the runners in most major races. Cheer stations put a lot of time and effort into creative and hilarious signs for their friends and family. Slow down to get yourself motivated from the energy of the sidelines.
If you have more time to train, start small! Set yourself weekly, achievable goals. Again, starting with a walk-run ratio is an excellent way to start. It prepares your joints and muscles for longer, more endurant run sessions. Running 2-3 times a week to start is ideal for muscle memory and the slow, progressive build up. Don’t forget to stretch!
Step 2: Listen to your body
One of the most common injuries from running is from overusing joints, stemming from overtraining. This train-too-hard-too-fast injury is dangerous and could be a life-long, nagging injury that comes back to haunt you over and over again (Runner’s knee, anyone? Trust me, it sucks!). That said, listening to your body’s sensations as you’re running (and before & after!) is crucial. Be mindful of overtraining. Be mindful of sensations in your chest and lungs as you run. Be mindful of tension or pain in any area of the body, and tend to that pain accordingly with rest. It’s much more beneficial for you to take a few days off your training routine to rest your body, rather than pushing through the discomfort. Rest actually strengthens your body more than training!
Step 3: What’s really driving you?
Lacking motivation? Listen to what you’re telling yourself: your self-talk is everything. A negative headspace can be quite the trap, and difficult to escape (see blog: Motivation is a Myth). At all costs, avoid comparing your progress to others, notably on social media. Most people only post the success stories and the little victories, and looking through the world with rose-coloured glasses can be detrimental. It all boils down to listening to your body. If you’ve had a strenuous day at work with lots of physicality, a run may not be the best idea. However, running can have similar effects to meditation in that it is a very mindful practice, especially if you’re paying close attention to your body and breath. See what works for you, and respond accordingly to what your body needs.
Step 4: It’s not just about running
As good as running is for your endurance, what will help you most in the long run is the cross training incorporated into your routine. Take yourself to a yoga class once a week, hit the gym to strengthen those stabilizer muscles, and most importantly, stretch before and after your run. Your body will thank you, and you may even shave off a few minutes from your race time!
Step 5: Find your balance
A balanced routine will not only optimize your training, but your general energy levels. Some people are meant to workout in the early hours of the day, some people are built to endure the after dinner or late night workout sessions. How to tell? Again, listen to your body - and listen to what you’re telling yourself! Monitor your self-talk: are you groggy, self-deprecating, and demotivational before your coffee? Perhaps you operate best in the evening. Are you happy to be up at the crack of dawn to greet the day, or prefer to clear your mind before the movement and chaos of your day? Try waking up 30 minutes earlier to squeeze in a morning run! Everyone has the time - the point is to find it.
Finally, ask for help. Maintaining a running routine is not easy on your lifestyle. If you’re a busy parent, balancing child care, household chores, and potentially a social life, ask your partner to lend a helping hand. Most workouts will not eat up more than 30 minutes to an hour of your day, which can be easier to cover if you make the right arrangements. Even a friendly neighbour can lend a helping hand! Take this time for you: self-care is NOT selfish.