Running is fun. That’s why we do it – well, one of the reasons anyway. But how much fun is too much? Can you have too much fun? When it causes pain, then yes. When it causes you not to be able to run and have more fun – hell yes!
I’ve had a few “Incidents” since taking up running. Both of them were painful, worrying (to myself and my family), costly (through insurance excesses) and involved minor operations to resolve. I’d like to think that I’ve learned a lot through this experience, hopefully enough to prevent it happening again.
I don’t regard myself as suitably qualified or experienced to give out running advice to be followed blindly, but in the interest of self-preservation and performance, I read a lot about running. I listen and watch things about running and I ask questions... lots of questions (sorry!)
I’ve started to put this information together as a set of Running Rules. By writing them down, I am more likely to follow them (or feel guilty if I don’t). This isn’t a re-churning of one of those “Runners World” type articles, though if it feels like it is then apologies – they just happen to agree with me.
Running Plans – Use your club!
I’ve tried published Running Plans, but they don’t quite work for me, so I write my own. If you have other things in your life then it’s pretty difficult to organise a structured training session based on “6-7.5M gradual acceleration in 2.5M segments, ie 70%-80%-90%” and follow it all by yourself. The beauty of a club like Lliswerry is that they run training sessions - turn up, follow the instructions, go home happy.
Lliswerry Runners have a regular programme of Training Sessions (Long Run, Intervals, Speed Sessions, Tempo (parkrun)). Well thought out too - e.g. long runs on a Sunday morning (aargh! Lie-in morning after a Saturday night drink..? but then, when do most Marathon or Half Marathon’s take place?)
And what if the Lliswerry sessions don’t fit in with your weekly schedule (especially if you have a life outside running – heaven forbid!)? This was partly why I joined the NEWTS – while they are all about Triathlon, they do a good running session... on a Monday. They know full well that I’m only interested in one thing... and that’s fine. It also fits well with my existing commitments.
Don’t just Run – Cross Training
Core and Flexibility are important too. Abs class may hurt, but it’ll keep you upright on those runs. Yoga is great to ensure that you get the full range of motion in your legs.
Stretching is sooo important too. I’ll share my thoughts another day, especially I’ve just been told that I haven’t been stretching enough!
Recovery and Rest – as important as training
If you do a hard training session, give it a rest the night afterwards or do something different.
Give yourself time to recover, otherwise you run a higher risk of injury or your immune system drops through the floor. Also, it’s giving time for the muscles to re-build, stronger.
Plan your week / Plan to your goal
Take all of the elements – cross training / strength training / rest... oh and the running and plan them in across your week. When planning longer term, utilise some features of the published plans – e.g. look at how they build up in distance across the term. Consider fallback weeks, where you drop things back slightly, and don’t forget the Taper.
Don’t just Race
I have found myself in a racing-rut - pushing at parkrun, racing on Sunday, racing mid-week then back at parkrun again. With no real time for recovery in between (or training), this is a recipe for poor performance (if you’re lucky), or injury (disaster)! Sometimes, I have to say no to my internal voice telling me to try to race at every opportunity (I call my internal voice “Howard” btw!)
Always allow time for a Warm Up
As well as increasing your heart rate, it gets the synovial fluid moving, providing lubrication for your joints. If you’re old enough to remember the Castrol GTX adverts in the 80s, then you certainly need to get your liquid engineering going before your run!
Listen to people
There’s a wealth of information and experience out there, especially in Lliswerry Runners, and the surrounding clubs – people are a friendly bunch and that’s nice.
At the end of the day, it’s about enjoying running. I sincerely hope that I can keep going, and hope that some of this advice can help other people too.