Running For Beginners
Running for beginners should be fun but it can also be challenging.
This week I have been thinking of what are some simple fundamentals that beginners can follow to better their efforts.
It is easier for advanced level runners to know the basics of training but I can't expect a beginner to want to do 100 mile weeks or to know what anaerobic threshold training is at the risk of sounding like a raving lunatic.
Focus On Your Plan
There are athletes who simply want to finish a 5K, lose 5 pounds or complete their first half-marathon.
Beginners have it right, they have no limitations because they don't know what to expect.
Think of how many things we focus on, concern ourselves with now that we have been running a few years.
I need to hit this pace and hit mile 10 at the pace and if not I will not reach my goal.
We worry about the race and our strategy before we even toe the line.
Beginners can teach us all a thing or two.
I remember my first marathon, I had no flipping clue how I was going to run it.
It was just a fun experience and of all places, it was the 2002 New York City Marathon.
Free Your Mind
I had no mental barriers leading into the race. I had never run 26.2 miles before. I just wanted to give it a shot.
It has been on my heart all week to provide a large list of beginners running guidelines to set new runners up for success.
Let's get started.
Don't Be In A Rush
This is crucial. Know this, you will succeed but be patient, let your body adapt to the stress your giving it.
Running progress takes time and a great deal of patience.
Get More Sleep
Start Slow And Build
Try 5 minutes running followed by a 5-minute walk and repeat 5 times.
Running does not have to be complicated and as a beginner just focus on building on the mileage you run with each passing week.
Beginners, athletes just starting out, need to take their focus off of trying to jump into doing 3-5 mile runs right off the bat.
Less stress equals better results and that goes for all levels of runners.
A systematic, not rushed approach will yield fitness results but you have to let it come to you, not force it.
Try Pool Running
If the thought of running every day intimidates you early on as a beginner, take a couple days out of the week and pool run.
Pool running is simply getting in the deep end of the pool or to a depth slightly above your height and swing your arms and legs as if you were running on dry ground. This will take the stress off your joints and tendons most effected for beginner runners.
Visualize your race
The power of visualization is the biggest asset you can bring to your training. We, as runners, spend the majority of our time and effort training the physical aspect of your preparation but how much time is invested in mental training?
Whether you are a beginner or a veteran of the sport visualizing what it is your want to achieve is critical.
Do NOT set limits on yourself
My collegiate coach, Jack Hazen (2012 London Olympics Head men's and women's' distance coach), came to my high school in 1992 and said something I have never forgotten.
A newspaper reporter asked him of what he thought I could do in the future.
His answer was,
I will place no limits on Nate cause he sets none on himself
and I am telling you the same.
There are no limits aside from those you place on yourself and no one has the power to say you are limited to a certain time.
It is up to you how badly you want to work for your goals.
I have always trained and raced believing anything can happen on the perfect day, placing limits on yourself takes the joy away from what your doing.
Find A Coach
The best thing about starting off as a beginner runner is you don't know what to expect, what may work, what won't.
Alternate Your Pace
These forms of runs are called fartleks, swedish for ‘speed play'. It makes running interesting and can be fun.
You can alternate 1-minute runs of a harder pace with 1-minute of easier running and do this for 10-20 minutes.
A good technique I have suggested to beginner runners over the years is running light pole to light pole. Sprint to one light pole and jog to the following and repeat.
Once you gain fitness you can make your fartlek runs more demanding by extending the amount of time you are running at harder paces and shortening the recovery between these harder efforts.
For example, doing 2-minute runs at a harder pace followed with only 1-minute of jog recovery and repeats this 5 times.
Find A Team
If your a female of color, the Black Girls Run team is one of THE top teams for women in the United States.
There are numerous meet up groups across the country you can become a part of as a beginner.
Find one near you and this is a sure way to find more enjoyment as a beginner in the sport of running.
If you are a part of a team you have others to help hold you accountable for your goals.
Do Sit Ups
A strong mid-section will help support your body while running and help you combat fatigue, especially in the beginning stages of your running program.
This may not be your personal favorite but studies have show that coffee can improve athletic performance.
I always drink a cup of coffee before my morning runs, workouts and always the morning of a race.
It has just been a routine of mine, especially since joining the Army where early morning starts are the norm. If you like coffee it is a great option.
The greatest thing about beginner runners is you have no limitations.
You, as a beginner, don't have past races you are fighting to better.
You have joy in what you are doing and that is what we all, as veterans of the sport.
My professional coach for three years, Lisa Rainsberger, sent me a message on my facebook page (when I was still on the platform) about her daughter, who is only 14. She ran a 17.11 5K recently but what she said was priceless.
She does not wear a watch, trains only by the number of minutes on her training schedule and she has learned to feel and embrace the pain that running offers. I love that about her. She is so green and raw and undisturbed. My little 14 year old is a gift.
Throw away the watch
Sometimes worrying about pace, especially early on in your running program, can cause more harm then good.
It is ironic that I ran my fastest marathon, 2.19.35, without even wearing a watch.
You can map out your running route but as soon as you know the distance just focus on doing your runs and do away with knowing what pace your running at early on in your build up.
It will take your mental focus off of concerning yourself with pace and just getting in consistent mileage as you build your fitness.
Remember, you never want to lose the want to get in better shape. No need to let anything get in the way of that.
Keep Your Sense Of Humor
Keep things light in training will help you so much as you get fitter and start asking more from yourself in workouts.
Laugh and enjoy the experience, take a break from the running and watch something silly.
It will give you a break from the routine and keep your spirits up.
Running is hard work and anyone wanting to lose weight or run their first race has to put forth some effort but don't forget to keep things light hearted.
Pray about it
You may or may not be a believer but Christ says this in the Scriptures,
With man this is impossible, not with God, ALL things are possible with God
I firmly believe there is a higher power that lives in us.
If you look at the Tibetan monks and martial artists they have trained their bodies in such a way that nothing can penetrate their flesh.
They call it ‘chi' or the body's life force.
You Are In Control
Have you ever been a flow state? Where you didn't even realize what you were doing and time seemed to just fly?
I have always believed that getting this mental and physical state is a near-God-moment.