When you start running you realize that it’s awesome. Like ice cream, coffee & crystal meth that awesome can quite easily become an addiction. Like all addictions there is always a breaking point – first it’s just running every other morning. Then you’re running every morning. Then you’re running before and after work. Then you’re sneaking out in the middle of the day for a quick one – you can stop any time you want – honest – I don’t have a problem – screw you, grandma!
Admitting You Have A Problem
Fine, so you have a problem – but what to do about it? Over the years there have been many people much smarter than I who have tried to tackle this question – your mileage may vary but I’ve developed a system which works to help you build your running conditioning for the long term. It just works. It keeps you running long, hard and pretty much forever. Here’s the list:
- Feel good. It sounds silly but so many people try to go out and push themselves when they don’t feel good. If you don’t feel good, then it’s maybe time to stop. This has the added benefit that it sort of puts you back into the Maffetone cardio window. Also, you should enjoy yourself – if you don’t then stop. Eat some ice cream and try again tomorrow.
- Play the long game. Your body is a tree and not bamboo. You cannot cultivate growth all at once – it leaves you brittle. Start slow and take the benefits as they come – there are no shortcuts. Think long term and you will be rewarded – long term.
- Gravity is your co-pilot. It’s amazing what you can do with gravity. You can do a zillion body weight exercises that basically will force you to strengthen your core, back, butt, hamstrings – pretty much everything you need to avoid injury. You do NOT need to pick up heavy things. You DO need to develop pliable & strong muscle tendons, ligaments and supportive connective tissue – you need to get into a pattern to do this everywhere.
- Explore. Running on a track is fine but you need to switch it up. Get out on the trails. Get out of the house and go somewhere unknown. Just bring a credit card and cell phone and be back in two hours – what’s the worst that can happen? Engage your mind as well as your body. Stop and look around.
- Emulate. Think of the most beautiful runner you’ve ever seen. Now do that. Sounds easier said than done but the thing is by visualizing their movement you will emulate and appreciate how you differ. You can be the same. Straight posture. Slight forward lean. Quick cadence. Parallel arm swing. Good arm swing. Meditative breathing. High knees. Good kick.
We’ll do another post soon about technique and drills. Fundamentally, you don’t need specific sessions for technique all of the time if you know what you’re looking for. You can try to create little sub-sessions in your runs – focusing on cadence, or arm swing, or skipping or whatever.
All of this mindfulness helps build strength & durability for the long term. Your mileage may vary.