I have just finished up the third week of the C25K running program. First of all, I highly recommend it to any beginning runner: if you are already fit through other methods (in my case, aerobics and some weight lifting), or if you are truly a couch potato (or sit and work at a computer all day), it definitely works! Secondly, I have already discovered a few things that you can do to make your running even harder than it already is, so pay close attention, and try to avoid these things 😉
- Bad music. It isn’t very motivating to be half-way through a jogging segment of your run when Enya starts up. Due to some technology changes, I had to do a run without any music, and while that was 5X harder than with music, I do believe that bad music would make the run even harder than that. Don’t do it. If you need help finding some good music, check out pinterest (just search for “running music playlist”), or I bet google would have some good ones as well.
- Improper equipment. Time and time again I have attempted to run with poor shoes. Oh man, do my knees hate that! I’m only 25 years old, and in pretty good health, but if I run with worn-out shoes on my feet, my body is going to be screaming at me in ways that continue to affect me for months after.
- Lack of proper nutrition. Always, always, always, eat SOMETHING 15-30 minutes before you go on your run. Definitely not a huge meal (you might puke it up), but I have noticed that even with Pixie Dust the dog, if she doesn’t eat a few bites before we go running, she is sluggish and unfocused. Multiply that for a human. Also: Always, always, always eat SOMETHING as soon as you can after your run. Don’t think about it like eating all of the calories that you just lost, think of it as replenishing the nutrition that you expended.
- Don’t hydrate. Or even worse, drink carbonated beverages and sugared sports drinks. I strongly believe that God created water and there is nothing man-made that can trump that for doing good to our bodies. I respect that others will disagree with me here (my darling husband being among them). However you roll the dice, you have to keep yourself hydrated before AND after AND in-between your runs. Lately, I’ve taken to drinking an entire gallon of water throughout the day, but I’ve also found that ingesting at least one bottle-full before my run is beneficial. It keeps the side stitches away, and the shin splints at bay.
- Forget to stretch. I don’t believe that stretching before your run is necessary or beneficial in any way (feel free to disagree with me, though, I’d love to hear your arguments for this one!). However, stretching *after* your run is definitely recommended in my book. 1: It limits your soreness because it gently works out the lactic acid, YAY! 2: Your muscles are already warmed and limber from the run so they are able to stretch a little bit further and this is where you are going to be able to slowly reset their functions for over-all flexibility. and 3: It adds a little extra in the cool-down section of your work-out without really adding in extra work.
And as a bonus, here are a few things that may make your running even better/easier, and who doesn’t want that out of an already difficult work-out?
- Cute work-out gear. It isn’t a necessity, but it certainly helps when you feel like you look great while you are out there sweating. PLUS, having well-fitted clothing will keep you from getting chapped where the over-sized t-shirts and worn-out shorts just weren’t up to the par.
- Keep hair and cords secured and out of the way. I run outside, in the early morning, where/when my music isn’t going to be bothering anyone, so I don’t use any earbuds. In the past, however, when I have used earbuds, they always fall out of my ears, the cord bounces around, and it becomes more obnoxious and a hassle than I really want to deal with while I am huffing and puffing. Same concept applies to your hair. Pull it up (there are a myriad of cute ways to do this, whether you have short hair, longer hair, fluffy bangs…just search on pinterest), pin it back, get it out of your face and off your neck!
- Add in some variety. If you normally run at the park, try running on pavement, or if you normally run on one particular treadmill, try a different treadmill. Sometimes we get bored, so change things up every once in a while. If you normally run in the morning, try running in the evening (light is different, traffic will be different, weather will be different), if you go in a loop, try changing your direction.
Running is hard. Don’t ever let anyone (or your own brain) try to fool you into thinking differently. You have to condition your brain, your heart, your lungs, your muscles, and your mentality to be able to accomplish it. Ok, ok, one can easily argue that running itself is not hard, after all, my 2, 3, and 4 year old children run constantly! I am always telling them to stop running, so it can’t be *that* hard. But, in our older ages, we get lazy. I don’t know when it clicks, but we forget how to play with nothing, and we lose our flexibility, and we lose our ability to run. So, it becomes hard. Hopefully, with these little tidbits, you can work to make your running less difficult, even easier, and maybe more enjoyable. Keep at it, little people! You are doing amazing things for the body that God has given for your soul!!!!