Congrats! You’re a Runner!
If you’ve been on my Facebook or Instagram (@healthcoachingbysteph) you know that we’re doing the 2016 Runner’s World Holiday Run Streak, a challenge to run at least one mile every day from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day. It’s been fun so far; some days are messy as I slog through a hot mile and wouldn’t dream of doing one step further, and some days are better, like today. After breakfast I decided to do my run. It was cloudy and slightly raining – perfect conditions. Everything lined up and I just decided I would keep going and ended up doing a 5K with a 10:30 average speed. While I’m writing this I almost feel like a fraud. “Oh ya I just woke up and did 5K, no big deal you know?” When did I become this person? I couldn’t even run a whole mile without stopping until about a year ago, as I spent my entire childhood getting doctor’s notes to skip gym class on mile day and my adulthood doing ANY exercise except running. I’ve been an Asthmatic since I was 5, generally not very athletic, the list goes on and on. So here are my top tips for getting your run on and becoming someone who can say obnoxiously nonchalant things about how long you ran this morning.
Follow a 3 days-a-week plan
Or any plan you like and want to stick to. There are different ones out there and most of them are several days a week, and they are good too. I just loved how manageable a 3 day plan was and how much progress I made without getting burnt out. I used this plan from Hal Higdon. Bonus points if you do it with friends. My fiance and lovely soon to be sister-in-law motivated me to stick to it and that really helped. Before we started that schedule a 2 mile run was a struggle for me. Just do your best and by the end it will seem like nothing.
Do NOT try to run faster
I learned this the hard way. Your speed will increase as you get stronger and run more and not a minute sooner. Trying to dramatically decrease your run time makes you alter your stride, puts a lot of stress on your body and increases your potential for injury. It is better to focus on keeping a light stride (so you’re not pounding the pavement) and a consistent speed. When I started the plan I described in step 1, the only way I could finish the whole run without stopping was by slowing down to a 11:15-11:30 pace. Even though I was slow, running the entire time conditioned my body better than a lot of stops to walk when I was running a speed I couldn’t maintain.
Running will make your legs stronger, but I think there’s a plateau that you hit unless you strengthen them in other ways. Mix some squats and lunges into your workouts, lift or do some yoga or PiYo to strengthen your lower half and you will see more power during your runs.
If you have breathing problems you get a bonus step…
Clean out the cabinet
I have managed to practically eliminate my asthma through some changes in my diet and the products I use. I still may have shortness of breath when I’m sick, but when I’m healthy I can run and sprint and bike to my heart’s content. I reduced the processed food I eat and that always makes me feel healthier, but I really started noticing a difference when I started switching out my household and personal products to cleaner versions. I check everything I buy on Environmental Working Group’s website and make sure it doesn’t contain toxic ingredients. A great starting point is looking at your labels and avoiding anything that has “fragrance” listed. Good products will use essential oils and not artificial fragrances.