9/25/13

Running Advice from a Fat, Slow Man . . .

There are just 17 days until my GoRun Wichita Start2Finish training will end and the starter's pistol (or cannon or whatever horrible contraption they use to start the race) for the Prairie Fire Marathon/Half Marathon/5K/Potato Sack Race will sound.

Despite just how vocal and adamant I have been about NOT being a runner, lots of people have been asking questions and seeking actual advice from me about getting started with running (as a grammatical firewall from saying "becoming a runner"). Perhaps it is reverse psychology that they will do whatever the opposite is that I tell them but - regardless - the questions have come and I've answered them and I'll continue to answer as long as I have miles on the calendar.

Without further delay (and acknowledging there are just three more running posts coming to this blog) - here are my thirteen-point-one tips (yes, a "list" pun) for people just getting started with running that might help make it easier and more enjoyable because - if you're going to give the time, sweat, and energy to this pursuit it might as well be enjoyable.

13 - Plan. I was very luck to get a schedule of how many miles (or how much cross training) I should do on any given day for the duration of getting ready for this race. If you don't have a distance/race date as a goal you should at least put what you want to do on the calendar and stick to it. I'm 16 weeks in to training and I've missed ONE workout - and that was yesterday.

12 - Music. I'm a huge fan of music for every occasion but I must say I've spent a LOT of time and energy getting my running music just right. It is a combination of rap, hip hop, rock, and even some DJ stuff (Girl Talk is actually great for running). I suggest a mix of upbeat stuff, slower things, and music that shifts in pace as it goes and I highly recommend "shuffle" settings so the songs never get boring or routine.

11 - Get the right shoes. I was very fortunate to get my first pair of kicks for free. I tried on four pair (I was expertly fitted at GoRun Wichita and you can and should be, too) and asked a ton of questions and chose Brooks Trance 11s because they had more support for my bigger body. "They" say you should replace your shoes every 300 - 400 miles. I just bought a new pair of Brooks Trance 12s. The investment (spoiler alert) will ensure I will continue to run and that I can do so without pain and discomfort.

10 - Free your mind. If you are going out there and running and NOT using the time to think . . . you're better than I am. I like to think my six or seven hours a week of running time are really just an excuse to eliminate the noise of the rest of the world. And that freedom is amazing.

9 - Watch your runs. A friend loaned me her old Garmin for the purpose of better monitoring my runs. For my first 11 weeks as a runner I would start a timer on my phone, start running, and then turn the timer off. I had no idea how far in to the run I was (unless I had mileage markers on the course) and I had no idea what my pace was or how long I had been running. I wasted a lot of energy and was not progressing as I wanted to. The watch changed that. I wish I had it sooner.

8 - Keep it interesting. I'll take a different course almost every time I run. I will at least run a course I do more often (you can frequently catch me on 1st and 2nd between Hillside and Edgemoor) in varying ways. I can't run on a treadmill because it is boring. Running should not be boring.

7 - Get a water bottle that straps to your hand. If I have four miles or less I will often just drink a lot before I head out and drink a lot the minute I get in (I hate having something in my hand . . . it makes me feel uneven) but anything over and it is good to have some water. I enjoy Powerade Zero and/or nuun (watermelon is my favorite - stop laughing) over plain water but the simple stuff is just as delicious.

6 - Eat and drink. I was very, very resistant to "nutrition" on my runs. A few obstacles . . . I cannot eat processed sugar and I'm fat and the act of eating while running seems as endearing as a known domestic abuser wearing a wife beater to the grocery store. So I would run as many as seven or eight miles with nothing going in my body by 0 calorie water. HUGE mistake. Now I eat Larabars and/or Justin's squeezable peanut butter packets for anything over five miles and it helps. A lot.

5 - Gear. I hate the polyester, dri-weave crap more than you might ever imagine but I still wear it and I, more importantly, have come to appreciate my compression socks, my "runnerd" sweat catcher, my Eastbay shorts and my running t-shirts. Find what you are comfortable in and spend some money on it, as needed. You will run better if you are comfortable.

4 - Run. Here is the most obvious advice you'll ever get from me (and I say some "on the nose" crap all day, errrrrryday) . . . if you're going to run, RUN. Your brain and body will fight you on this. You will want to walk. Especially in the early going or if you're off pace or if you're not quite right or if you're battling a distraction like weather or stress. The minute you give in to that . . . you are not really running. Trust me on this - I break at least once every. single. run. And that is just one reason I'm NOT a real runner.

3 - Make friends. Yes. This is hypocritical advice on the surface but I do have friends who are runners and I've chatted with them about running and approach and goal setting and success. It is very helpful. If you can't embrace the running culture, at least embrace the running community's wisdom. There are blogs and websites - worst case - that can help you along. Don't go through running completely alone. You will make mistakes.

2 - Listen to your body. I have been very, very lucky (especially given my relatively nonathletic lifestyle, my fatness, and my general clumsiness) to have had a single pain, injury, woe, or problem with the physical aspects of running that got in the way of me getting out there again the next day. But I've had a few little things that have not felt great that I've Googled, asked runner friends about, or harassed Kevin with GoRun Wichita over. If we didn't have the cool July we had and if I didn't stay healthy - there is no way I'm this far in to training and feeling this ready for the race. Hurt = sucks.

1 - Make it fun. Yes. I just said that. With a straight face. If I have a course planned out, some water in my bottle, tunes in my ears, and a Larabar in my pocket and the weather is in my favor . . . it is actually SUPER fun out there. I had an 11 mile run a few weeks ago that was only supposed to be nine but I just wanted to keep going and that is when I had to admit I was having fun. Whatever the "fun" is for you . . . find it and make it part of your running. You won't regret it.

.1 - If you're going to do it, truly commit. This advice goes for any thing in life but running (because there are costs, there is time spent, there is energy expended, and there is risk of injury, etc.) needs to be something you take seriously. Find and flex your greatness because even at a 13:30 average mile pace I can and will look you square in the eye and tell you that I'm channeling my greatness and giving my best for every mile. Buhleeeeeddddat!