The world of a runner is strange to some. We have weird and wonderful quirks that we seem to grow proportionally to how many years we run.
I have been a runner for 28 years. So that tells you just how long the list of quirks are for me.
Recently, I was asked to run a ‘Learn to Run’ clinic. The program is to take 8 weeks and end up with the ‘students’ to go from newbie to be able to run/walk 5 kilometres. I decided to use a run/walk combo as to lessen the occurrence of injuries. Although I don’t use this method myself when running, I still adhere to taking the walk breaks when you need them; I just don’t time them. Bottom line; if you need a walk break, take one. There is a danger is taking too long of a walk break or too slow of a break so just make sure you get the feet moving again quickly.
I wanted to put together a few things I have come to realize over the years. Call them tips or rules or 12 useless ideas about running, but the reality is that most of us will just be recreational runners. We are not looking for any record setting PB’s here. We are looking for a way to stay healthy and enjoy an activity that can bring thousands of people together or where you can enjoy your solitude.
Here are my 12 guidelines for the running geek in you:
- Just run. I know that sounds so simple, but that is all there is to it. If you feel like running 1 kilometre or 10 or 20, you are still a runner.
- A 10 minute mile is the same distance as a 5 minute mile. Ok, I stole that one but I believe it. It isn’t the time (ok sometimes it is, but most of the time it isn’t) that is important. The distance. The distance. The distance.
- Watch The Barkley Marathons at least once in your life. I am not even going to go into why, just do it and you’ll figure out why when you watch. Then you’ll probably want to watch it again.
- Shoes matter. They do. Sorry but you cannot go cheap here. You can cheap out on all the fancy running gear like fancy jackets, pants and fuel belts, but you can’t cheap out on your shoes. Your joints will thank you 10 years from now.
- Yes, you can run in the winter. Sure, there are days that are not conducive to speed, and there may be days that it is not a good idea because of icy conditions, but the cold is not a reason to not get out. Layer up and get outside. Your mind and body will thank you immediately following that run.
- Trails are amazing. If you can get into the trails, give them a try. The soft cushion of the trails are great for your joints and not to mention the rolling hills are great for conditioning. Just realize that you will definitely be slower when running in the trails if you are timing yourself.
- Take pictures. Ok this may sound weird but I have been able to get some great photos (on my phone) during a run. The sunset. The lake. A flower. Seriously stop and not only smell the roses, but take photos of them too.
- If you are out for a run and someone is running towards you who is also out for a run, a simple wave, peace sign, or nod is imperative. If they don’t reciprocate, that’s on them.
- Sign up for a race. I know this may seem daunting, especially if you are a beginner, but the experience is worth it. Maybe start by just going to watch a race. Check out the diversity of people that are running. You will be amazed just standing at a finish line of a 10km (or marathon) and see people that are Just Like You. Most people are NOT elite athletes. It is amazing to watch them too but you will never be more inspired than when you watch the mid to back of the pack finishers.
- You are not a jogger. Please don’t let anyone tell you that. If you are running, you’re a runner. I honestly have no idea what a jogger is so please don’t use that language with me.
- Get a running buddy. Yes, there are times when the solitude of running is exactly what I need, but my running partner (shout out to Rayanne!) and I have been running for probably 12-15 years and I can honestly say she has kept me going all these years. We have ran, talked, laughed and raced together. The friendship of a running partner is unique in that you truly see each other at your best and worst. I am very lucky to have one of the best around. And NO, you can’t have her.
- Finally, the most important thing to remember is if you do a race, never, ever wear the race shirt the day of the race. You earn the shirt once you have completed the race. You can wear a shirt from a previous race, if you finished it. But not until the race is done, the race shirt stays in the kit.