Love Running? Eight Rules to Help Keep it That Way
By Will Lind
Image © Photocreo Bednarek / Dollar Photo Club
When you love running, it works for you. When you don’t love running, it works against you. Simply put, the more you consistently you love running, the easier your running life will be. Even for those who feel running isn’t your first love, you are best served by learning to love running. Here are six ways to smooth out the relationships and facilitate an ongoing and deep love of running.
- Slow Down. Everybody. Just slow down for a while. It’s not a race. It’s a run. It’s like walking. You do it because it brings some peace and time for reflection. That’s what a true run is. Screw speed, calories or any other purpose than running for running’s sake. Force yourself to shrug off that ingrained societal pressure to be constantly moving fast and constantly striving for more. Just be. Just cruise.
- Learn to enjoy the run. Set a course and leave the watch at home. Or, take the watch but set no course. Have a distance OR a time goal. Not both. Have you ever burst out laughing while you’re running? If not, you’re doing it wrong. It won’t be like that every run. And the more you run, the less it happens. But if you’ve never been overwhelmed with the good juices and just suddenly felt like shouting or laughing, you’ve never really realised the whole point of going out and running. For you performance minded folks out there, keep in mind that enjoyment is your number one source of progress and improvement. When you enjoy something, you work at it twice as hard and twice as long. Enjoyment is lubrication for exercise programs. It’s what makes them run smoothly, brings the fastest results and protects them from drying out and grinding to a halt.
- Make no dramatic changes to your running technique or shoes. Only ever make small changes over time. It’s a transition from a heel strike to a mid foot strike. You can’t go cold turkey. Same with a switch to a more minimalist style shoe. It takes time and patience.
- Constantly correct slipping into sloppiness. In other words, be aware of your technique. Very aware. At all times part of your mind should be on your form. Spend time contemplating how your run feels, what muscles are doing what and just listening to your body working. Visualise yourself looking effortless, feeling effortless and try replicate that. Fast or slow. Fresh or fatigued. Consider your form and stay true to it.
- Stretch and strengthen. Spend time in the gym and spend time on the floor mat. Stretching most every night, strengthening once or twice a week. Don’t neglect upper or lower body. It’s all connected. It all works as one.
- Address tightness, aches and pain as your first priority over more running. Rest when it’s needed. Stretch and ice. See a physiotherapist or sports massage therapist. Try and run through the problem at your peril.
- Running is not racing. One is steady, relaxing exercise like walking or cycling. Racing is hard. You have time and distance goals to meet. You have somewhere to be and something to beat, be it a time, a competitor or yourself. Don’t blame running for your injuries. Running is incredible, uplifting and clarifying. Racing is not really the problem either. It’s just that racing can prompt risk taking and horrible technique slip ups made in the name of speed.
- Enjoyment and injury free running is the prime foundation for results. Doesn’t matter how badly you want to go fast, if you’re not really loving running and you’re battling pain in your heels, arches, knees or hips, the problem isn’t running, it’s you.
Running can’t be changed. You either love running, or you don’t love running, and you will flow from one to the other. If you can have some principles in place that mean you sit more often at the love running end of the spectrum, your running life will more often be full of progress and good memories. So do what you can with these eight principles to make it that way.