Hello THK Readers!
We have a special post today from our Exercise Expert, Cortney Chen. Professional Ski Instructor, Nationally Ranked Tennis Pro, Marathoner, and Triathlete, she has tackled the athletic world with skill and enthusiasm, and now has offered to share her secrets to success with us.
“The real purpose of running isn’t to win a race, it’s to test the limits of the human heart”
I grew up playing about every sport under the sun; tennis, basketball, lacrosse, soccer, baseball, softball, skiing, snowboarding, and squash. I even ended up trying rugby and boxing for a bit, needless to say because of my size, that ended poorly. But a challenge is a challenge and I wanted to push my physical limits. All of these sports have one thing in common; I never needed to run much more than 1 mile to train for them. Kind of funny, something that our body was naturally built to do was just left out of the conditioning for all other activities.
I started running 9 years ago, simply out of boredom. I was stuck in a small Podunk town for a summer and there wasn’t much else to do to stay in shape. Be warned, Running is addicting. Since then I haven’t gone more than two days without running in a week. So here are some tips for those who are toying of the idea of joining the obsession.
Don’t worry about walking.
The first month of running is the hardest, and there are times you are going to want to quit, but power through it, I promise it gets better and the rewards are undeniably great. Your muscles get the same work out if you have to stop .5 miles into the run and walk for 5 minutes, so take your time. The most important part to starting, is finishing your distance regardless of your time. “No matter how slow you go you are still lapping everyone on the couch”
Never increase mileage over 10% a week.
For example if you ran 10 miles last week, do not run more than 11 miles this week. This is going to save you a lot of injuries. Many new runners try to run as far as possible, but end up straining themselves, therefore putting them out of commission for weeks on end (there goes your new workout strategy). But believe me when the endorphins and your new found energy and enthusiasm hit, you are not going to want to stop- but DO. The vast majority of injuries in running come from overuse, so if you only hear one piece of advice, listen to this one.
Not all running shoes are created equally. So get fitted for new shoes.
The old pair of shoes in your closet won’t do. The shoes on sale that don’t really fit won’t work. Get fitted for shoes at a running shop. And if you have the means, get fitted for two pairs of different brands. The different build in shoes will work your muscles ever so differently and will help prevent injury. There are a multitude of reasons not to skimp on running shoe purchases that I will explain later, but believe me, you will need the support from a new pair of shoes that fit your foot and to the way that your body runs. Each person is unique.
Keep a running journal.
This doesn’t need to be a novel, but just remember to log your miles. Believe me you will forget. It is important to know how much you are progressing. The journal can be more than just mileage. You can write down where you ran, who you ran with, how you felt, etc. Personally, I love to take photographs for my journal. Some of my favorite runs have taken 3 hours because I end up stopping every half-mile to take a picture.
Get Lost in Your Mind.
If you are thinking about each step, each breath and the burning in your muscles, you are not going to like running. It’s natural for your mind to focus on pain, but resist the urge. Make yourself an amazing music playlist, learn to meditate while running, and enjoy the scenery around you. As crazy it sounds, I used to study while running. I would run over lectures, or start writing skeleton outlines for papers in my head, any way to escape will work. Most of the time I end up zoning out and just appreciate the simplicity of being outside with no distractions. Running is a form of reconnection and meditation- use it.
Set Physical Goals for Yourself.
Sign up for a 5k, then 10k, then 15k. They are great tools to measure your progress and speed, and believe me races are fun! A good party at the finish line will always keep you coming back for more. Not to mention once you get sucked into the race world, you will truly understand what people mean when they say “Runners are just a different breed of human”. We truly are and you can’t understand it until you live it, but in my opinion the word “different” could easily be synonymous with inexplicably wondrous.
Set Mental Goals for Yourself.
Run with a purpose, run with your heart on your sleeve and leave it all out there. Every marathon I have run, I have run in honor of someone, or raised money for a cause close to my heart. One of the greatest running coaches of all time used to train his students by saying “Practice abundance by giving back”. If you know there is a greater cause then trying to slim your waistline, you will find running more fulfilling. Even if you aren’t running in the race, volunteer for it!
Find a Running Group in Your Area.
This isn’t for everyone, but a running buddy can sometimes give you that extra push of motivation to get out the door and hit your miles. If you are more of a solo runner, don’t worry, it is still a good idea to join at least for a bit at the beginning, these veterans running groupies often know the best trails and hidden runs all over town. Check in at local running stores, search Meet Up groups and even explore facebook and twitter.
Buy Sunglasses or a Hat.
Yes, runner’s sunglasses are quite possibly the least fashionable items on the market, but if you are going to be playing on the trail for long periods of time, your eyes are going to pay the toll. I would suggest Oakley, but if you are just testing the waters, any pair of glasses that wrap around the side of your head will do. I would also suggest polarized lenses, as they protect the delicate tissue of the eyes from UV damage. This means NO WAYFARERS, NO AVIATORS. It means 1980’s racquetball goggle- looking shades or something similar. If you are anti-glasses, a wicking runners hat will do the trick too.
FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS GOOD IN THE UNIVERSE DO NOT RUN WITH ANY WEIGHTS!!!!!
Running creates copious amounts of pressure on your joints. For every extra pound you carry there is an extra four pounds of pressure on your knees. That means for every extra pound you hold on to, there could be up to 4,800 pounds of extra pressure on your knees per mile, depending on your stride. It is an amazing feat to start running, don’t beat the “cuss” out of your legs just to try and get to your goal faster.
That’s it for today, but check out the best running tips part II!