Guest Post: Running Basics From The Mid-Distance, Mid-Aged Runner

Today"s post comes to from, in his words, "The Mid-Distance, Mid-Aged Runner." Thomas lives with his wife near Charlotte, NC. He began competively running in 8th grade and competed year-round all through high school. He"s been an active competitive long-distance runner since graduating high school in 1993. Currently, he runs 12-15 races per year (5-10K distance) and has a plethora of experience to share. Thanks Thomas!

Happy New Year Runners!

I hope everybody out there had a great Christmas and Happy New Year.  I’m sure there are many people who made a New Year’s goal to get in better shape, and this potentially includes running. Unfortunately the weather this time of year and the eating habits of folks around the holidays can delay lacing up well-worn running shoes, much less band new ones.

The good news is, despite the weather and Christmas-cookie dinners, your running plans and hopes do not need to remain just that! In the majority of this first post in the series,  I’d like to speak to the new runner; avid runners usually don’t need further convincing to run they just run!  So to all my new runners (sometimes affectionately referred to as “Resolution Runners”) you had the tenacity to say you were going to try running, now let’s follow up on that declaration.  I realize that this is easier said than done so here are my tips to get started.

First off you need to ensure you are ready to run. I’m not referring to the very popular three to four minute general stretching session that begins with both hands up in the air together in diving position, followed by a quick attempt to touch your toes (usually only reaching slightly below the knees), then progressing to the pull-foot to the buttocks standing quad stretch, and finally ending with the alternating arms crossed in the front of the body shoulder stretch.  I can’t tell you how many times I see folks try to use this as a means to get warm and avoid injury.

If I may, allow me to be blunt: that modality of stretching is worthless, and can in fact lead to injury.  Here is a great In Tennessee, traffic driving test game can be taken in person at a commercial driving school, or it can be completed online via a DOS-approved provider. stretching video for runners I recommend form YouTube:  A key point to remember is that you need to stretch after running as well.  The post-run stretch is very important as this will increase blood flow. Many of the same stretches from the video can be used post-run as well.

Another piece of the puzzle  is nutrition. This may sound familiar, but you perform to the level of fuel you put into your body.  Good food choices include lean protein sources and plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables.  Avoid regularly ingesting sugary, fatty foods, and other poor nutrient sources like alcohol.  It can be beneficial to limit your caffeine intake to increase your sensitivity to it. This will increase it"s effectiveness during a race or long training run.  Next, and I can’t stress the importance of this enough, drink plenty of water throughout the day.  Your intake will vary slightly based off of mileage ran and temperature, but maintaining a consistent intake all year round I  found helps my performance.  For example I usually consume around a gallon of water (128 ounces) in a given 12 hour period.  This may seem like a lot of water, and for the first few days you might feel like you are floating, but you will quickly become used to consuming more water the more you run.  You will really notice how much better and energetic you will feel during your runs.

The next major focus to start running is to set attainable goals.  Nothing can sideline running progress like setting too high a running goal early on, and then ending up with an injury, such as shin-splints, within a week of starting your new running habit.  An option to consider is incorporating walking breaks during your run to help you recover and build up your endurance, especially if you"re brand new to running.  If you are opt to use a walk-run training method I recommend using a time method such as run 2 min/walk 2 min.  If you fitness level is decent but you do not run regularly at this point, perhaps begin your running training with a goal of competing in a 5K by say, March.  There can be so many variables for goal setting, and no one solution will work for everybody- you might need to try a couple of running plans before finding the correct one for you.  For direct help I suggest visiting your local “serious” running store.  I’m not knocking big-box sporting goods chain stores, but usually the employees are not specifically trained in running.

Now that we have discussed the basic running components of proper stretching, the need for hydration and proper nutrition, and setting realistic goals, let’s examine a few running shoe choices.  Before I get started on this topic two things to keep in mind, first I know many people already have their own opinion on what the best running shoe is out there, and second I am not paid to advertise any of the following shoe brands.

Now with that being said, there are many variables that go into selecting a good running shoe. What one brand/model of shoe offers one individual many not be the same for everybody.  I can attest to this by the fact that there are two popular running brands out there I will not wear as I have tried several models of their shoes without finding a good fit.  I will not use their names so I don’t sway opinions.  Currently my favorite brands are: Hoka One One, Brooks, Saucony, and Mizuno.  For the last quarter of 2013 and all of 2014 I have been running in Hoka shoes.  These shoes are designed for long distance running and max cushioning, but they have models that fit all running types and conditions.  Don’t let the look fool you, these are great running shoes, and they hold up to running abuse well.  Hoka’s are the only running shoe I have been able to push over 500 miles in and still feel good cushioning and responsiveness.  I would encourage any runner at any level from beginner to advanced to give then a try.

Whew, that was a lot. There"s just so much to say on these topics, and I really just scratched the surface.  In next month’s conversation I will address setbacks from injuries (always a fun topic in running!), and specific models of Hoka shoes for different running surfaces, distances, and race/fitness goals.

Until our next conversation take care and enjoy the run!

The Mid-Distance, Mid-Aged Runner