My Four Lessons of Running
Written by Jamie Cocco
The birds are chirping, the sun is beaming through the trees, and you pass by a cow who stares at you right before you have to convince yourself for the tenth time that there is light at the end of this running tunnel. Running is not easy! Whether you are a seasoned runner, have a couple half marathons under your water bottle belt, or have written down on a piece of paper somewhere, you can’t remember where, but are pretty sure it is in the kitchen, that you are going to complete your first 5K this year. So where do you start, where should you be, or where are you going?
As a certified running coach who is also on a running journey, here are four lessons that I have learned so far:
Meet yourself where you are but push a little further each time. Stop comparing your beginning to someone else’s middle or your middle to someone else’s 15-year journey. We get stuck in the rut of seeing someone who inspires us or a friend who has been doing it for a while and try to match them. I catch myself trying to push too far too fast to keep up with more experienced runners. Running is a marathon, literally and metaphorically. Some days you just have to drag yourself out of the house and do your best. When you get to the place where your body pushes back, push a little bit further, and you will get so much out of it.
Gradually increase your distance and speed. In the past as a runner, I have pushed myself to injury because I am too competitive with myself and progress. If you are a beginner, go down the street to the nearest stop sign, farm, crossing, 10thmailbox, ding dong truck, or something close enough to be achievable, don’t stop, walking counts, and head back home. The next time go 10-20% further. Then the next time go 10-20% further. That means if you go out for 10 minutes today, then go for 11 minutes on your next run. It is the small steps in the right direction over a long period of time that make the difference.
Make every third week a recovery week, where you don’t increase distance or speed. It took me awhile to understand that shifting my focus from always gaining on my run to flexibility, balance, and strength can improve my running. Our muscles adapt faster then our connective tissue and injuries can occur when we don’t adequate recovery time. So give your muscle a short vacation, not to Fiji with those fruity drinks and colorful umbrellas in them, more like a relaxed binge watching session of Stranger Things, where you maintain your distance and speed, focus on flexibility through stretching, one of the other focal points to holistic health, and do some myofascial work (foam rolling).
Before, sometimes during, and after running, hydrate. I have been caught on both ends of the spectrum with dry mouth, wondering if the water station ahead is a mirage or not, and standing in line for a porta potty when I could be running. It is important to drink a lot of fluids the night before a big run, the day of your every day run, during a long run, and always after a run. Drink about 16 ounces of water in the 1-2 hour before you run and start to slow down your water consumption to 8 ounces during the final 30 minutes before your run, to avoid bathroom breaks. Drinking 5-15 ounces for every 15-20 minutes of running is recommended by Runner’s World. Click here to read more about hydrating from Runner’s World. More likely than not, if you do a road race, there is going to be a beer waiting for you at the end. Don’t worry. I am not telling you to not drink the beer, just drink water slowly first.
Remember, you can do it! Running is hard, so use these lessons I have larned to make it a little easier for you today. Please comment and let us know what worked for you. Thank you for reading my lessons and stories!
UESCA Certified Running Coach (United Endurance Sports Coaching Academy)