Most runners describe running to be “addictive”. Why is that so? I don’t think there is one correct answer and I think that all runners have a different answer to why they love running. I have heard several answers: ” I run to stay fit and healthy”, ” I run to escape unpleasant painful things in life”, “I run to win”, “I run to enjoy the scenery, to be alone and collect my thoughts”. “I run to finish a marathon”, “I run to honor a loved one”, “I run to raise money”,……. the list can go on and on.
I run for several reasons: 1- I run to stay healthy and fit, 2- I run because I have a sweet tooth and love dessert, 3- I run because I love the way it makes me feel — so stong and in control, 4- I run because it is a stress reliever, 5- I run because I am competitive and love to accomplish new goals, 6- I run because I am alive and want to celebrate my life. 7- I run because I can…….. the list can go on and on….. The benefits of running are that awesome!
Running can be as simple as you want to make it or it can be a little more difficult and include so many different factors to think about. As I began running long distance races/runs, I figured out how important these factors were. Here are just a few of them:
SHOES Am I wearing the correct shoes? I never knew that having the appropriate foot gear would be so complicating. I thought I could go buy a pair of running shoes and be fine. Who knew I needed to get a foot evaluation? Do I overpronate? Do I underpronate? Do I have a neurtral arch? I wish I had gotten a foot eval when I first started running. I think part of my injury was caused by wearing the wrong shoes. I am very flat footed and do not have much of an arch. And, I overpronate and need a specific running shoe with more support.. I also discovered that most runners buy shoes a whole size bigger than what you normally wear. Your toes need room to move around! Boy, what a difference having the appropriate shoe makes!
Fuel /Hydration In order to have the energy to run long distances, you have to fuel appropriately before, during, and after each run and you must stay hydrated. Otherwise, you will not be able to finish you race/run. After a few runs when I could not find the energy to finish the mileage, I decided to pay more attention to what I drank and ate. Carbohydrates is your body’s main fuel source for energy. So, a low carb diet was not a good option. I wasn’t eating enough carbs before my runs nor was I eating anything during my long runs. Once I increased my carbs and was introduced to the fuel on the run – gu and cliff shot bloks, my long runs became so much easier. I was also drinking more water, cutting out my diet cokes, and staying hydrated. Drinking enough before, during, and after. Timing what I eat and drink before, during, and after a run is everything!
TRAINING How you train each week is key to staying injury free. Most runners run 3 x during the week (usually includes some speedwork) and a long run on the weekend. It does not mean that every run is ran at a fast pace. While training for the Cowtown Half, I never give my body a break. I would run each run at race pace and kept trying to increase my time. I also kept increasing my long runs by too much mileage on the weekends. I was doing too much too fast. No wonder I injured myself. I was overworking my body! I was not listening to my body. Every training guide is not perfect for everyone. You make your training work for you!
TAPERING Why is it important to taper? To Rest! In order to obtain a peak performance, you need to cut back on training a few weeks before the race. This means to cut back on total mileage. To cut distance but not intensity. It also means cutting out lifting weights or other cross fit activities. Your body must rest. And, since your body is resting, you also need to cut back on calories. You are not running the same mileage that you normally do and you do not want to pack on the pounds! But it can be very hard for a runner to make themselves slow down and rest. Lol.
PACE Every runner seeks the perfect race, in which he/she achieves the perfect pace crossing the finish line with no energy left and fully aware he/she could not have ran one second longer or gone one step farther. This is not easy to accomplish. Start out running too hard and you will struggle to finish the race. Start out too slowly and you will find yourself at the finish line with too much energy and a slower time than you had wanted. Finding your perfect pace takes time and experience. However, since I do not have much experience, I think underestimating my fitness is better than not having the energy to finish the race!
GOALS Every runner has a goal in mind when running a race. It may be to win the race, or set a new PR, or just to finish the race. That’s what I love about each race. The race is not about competing against everyone else who is running. It is about racing against yourself and accomplishing your goal.
Running is much more difficult than I have ever thought it would be…… but I LOVE it! Each race is a challenge. Each race is a lesson. With each race,I learn a little more and more about what I can do to improve. Running is addicting! Because every race can be an accomplishment!