Happy Saturday! The sun is shining and it’s a bright blue sky. The ground sparkles because it’s cold outside. It’s a lovely day for a run, but here I am inside, with a cup of coffee in my hand looking out through dirty windows.
The past weeks I’ve been asked if I can write up training or running programs for friends and people I barely know. I must say that I am very flattered. Extremely flattered actually. How on earth do you think I actually know anything about training? Do I? I know that I am usually nicer to others than myself. I can treat my own body pretty bad and overdo things and at the same time I tell people around me to slow down and listen to the body. I have done a lot of training the past 5 years but I always get help from the best. I usually get monthly programs that meets my needs and abilities, my time and willingness to move and run. Detailed if I have something big planned. Right now my week is kind of basic. I don’t have any mile or time requirements, I actually do what I want to do. Keeping a base and staying fit, but still trying to balance hard and easy days. I must admit that I am extremely worried that I will get injured, twist or turn something so I have backed off and have more easy days than I am used to. I went through a long year with a shoulder that constantly dislocated and it took a good six months to get back on track after surgery. When I broke my elbow the year after it felt like it was the end of the world. I am still working on getting the strength back without surgery. I still get chills when I think of clipping my feet in and have actually switched my pedals on all three bikes to regular ones for a while.
I always get a bit worried during the winter that I will lose it. It doesn’t feel like you are working as much when you stay indoors at the gym. Running and biking outside for a longer time gives you feeling of exhaustion that is hard to top when you do the same inside. And I really miss that. The calm and relaxed feeling of a very tired body. I talked about yoga with a couple of friends yesterday and the yogi in the group stressed the importance of being consistent. If you want to enjoy yoga and improve you need to make a commitment and stay with it for a while. It takes time to get that relaxed feeling. I am not a yogi. I try every now and then, and so far I like hot yoga the most. But we are all different. Running a mountain in rain, snow or sunshine, running a muddy trail with old trees on the side, running on the side a blue lake or meeting a surprised deer in a dark forest that fills me with a relaxed and calm feeling that many people find in the yoga studio. We are all different. But whatever you do, yoga, pilates, running or cycling it takes time and commitment before you get to enjoy the good feeling and relaxed mind. I am working on learning how to like pilates at the moment. After a month of pilates classes I am still not overwhelmed with joy but I can see the benefits. I am stiff and not very flexible so my goal is to work on that. Pilates is very much about breathing and getting strength from that in your movements. I actually think this can benefit your running so I am sticking with it for a while even if it’s not very adventurous.
And from me to you without saying too much of stuff I know noting about…
Shoes. Very important. Get a good pair of shoes or two. It has nothing to do with color or brand. Find shoes that are comfortable and works for you. I have a pair of shoes that I love. A pair of bright green Brooks Cadence, slightly big and dirty. They are sold out, nowhere to find. Those kind if things gives you nightmares. I am learning how to like Nike Flyknit. Loved my first pair, not my second. And it has nothing to do with the color, they feel different. How does that happen? All my Icebugs are amazing on muddy trails and in the water. And my Brooks Pure Grit are great on trails too. I love the feeling of a new pair of running shoes. I have a lot of shoes, more than I need. Ahh, can’t believe that I wrote that.
Find your motivation. Find your spark. Sign up for a race, make a commitment, but start slow. Meet a friend the same time every week. Or even better, someone you don’t know that well, then it’s hard to cancel. My first race was a hilly half marathon. Maybe not a good start but it was a good feeling to finish and it made me going.
Find some kind of exercise you enjoy doing and look forward to when you wake up. For me working out is an addiction, I am very aware of that. Some people get addicted to nicotine, TV, food, computer games or alcohol. For me exercise is a mood changer, it makes me happy. I get a kick out of something adventurous, I don’t mind snow and ice on a trail or a map that is slightly off. I like surprises and when things don’t go as planned. I like the pain. It makes me feel alive.
Make it a habit. Don’t skip days and say that you will do it tomorrow. Stick with your plan but be flexible. If it’s pouring and you can’t take it go inside, if you have an injury do something that doesn’t hurt…
If I wanted to get into running and get a good base I would aim for three runs per week. One long run that you build up over time, one speedy run and one shorter. Don’t go crazy. If you can’t talk, slow down. And speed work / intervals are supposed to make you feel really tired, it’s hard.
Rest but not too much. I don’t like rest days but lately I’ve really tried to rest more than I usually do. I think it is better to move a little bit if you feel sore. If you can’t run, walk. If you can’t walk, swim. If you can’t swim, sit in the sauna for a while.
Crosstrain, get a strong body. Bike, swim, yoga and take a strength class. And if you don’t like running, pick another sport. Life is too short.
Find a good personal trainer that you like and trust. Get help if you want to improve or if you feel stuck. It took me time to get over that it is ok to ask for help even if you are a regular non pro person that likes to exercise.
Don’t get stuck on the same route or the treadmill. If you have signed up for a race you better start running outside even if it is cold. I usually run inside once a week, for speed/intervals. And a couple of miles here and there for warm up. Nothing beats the feeling of a nice chilly run outside.
We are all slow. I know, some slower than others. And some days are worse then others. It doesn’t matter. We all have our fears but that should not stop you from doing the things you want to do. My fear is that I will slow everybody else down if I do a team race, especially if I run with fast men. But, you just keep running…
Go the hard way. Don’t make bad choices, how many times in our life do we hear that. But if you always take the easy way you don’t get challenged. If you can choose between a hilly and a flat route home, go for the hilly.
Stay away from bears and mountain lions.
Don’t forget to eat well. Breakfast, lunch and dinner, yes, every day. And snacks between meals. And make sure to cook something good, you are supposed to enjoy what you eat.
You might as well go for a run or go to the gym. If you don’t, you never know when to take a shower.
Wear you sweat and dirt with pride. Enjoy the day and grab a beer when you are finished.