Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Running Is Hard

This week the third person in my Sunday School class at church told me they tried barefoot (well, 2 barefoot, 1 minimalist) running. I’m turning into some sort of barefoot evangelist. I guess when you discover something that works for you after trying and failing, like I did with shod running, you want to tell the world.

I do think I’ve made one mistake. I’ve noticed people who try it love it their first time, but pretty quickly question why they can’t run this distances I can yet or why it is hard. In all of my exuberance I fail to get across that RUNNING IS HARD. It just is. Now it gets easier, but if you continue to push yourself, it will continue to be hard. But that’s what makes it great. About a month or so ago I was running a decently paced 18 miles in pretty warm weather with a full pack on my back. My legs got tired. I got tired, I got hungry and had to eat. Another week I ran 8 miles fast two days in a row and on the second day felt like I was going to pass out. Last week I tried drinking a few beers every day to be a true beer runner and had trouble with 7 miles. But at the end of all of those runs, I was extremely happy. If you talked to me right after, you would think running must be easy. Why else would I be so happy? I’m not happy because I did something easy. I’m happy because I did something hard.

Running can be very fun and at certain distances can provide a high, but it is hard. It gets easier as you go, but then you add more mileage or speed to make it hard again. Of course you do that armed with the confidence of breaking the previous barrier.

The reason this worries me is I worry that people will try it, discover it is hard to run, think it is because of them, and quit. Instead, realize it is hard, take it as a challenge, and push on.

When I first started running again, I could barely make a quarter mile loop. Now, my progress was faster than yours will be if you have never run in your life and slower than if you were some sort of track star. But don’t quit. And follow some of these tips:

1.      Set realistic goals for yourself. Nothing motivates me like a goal. If you are new to running, try a 5K. But give yourself time to get prepared.
2.      Set mini-goals between the goals and adjust your training based on those.
3.      Be consistent. Nothing leads to failure like failure to train.
4.      Set rewards for your goals and smaller rewards for your mini-goals.
5.      Tell everyone about your goals. It makes it much harder to quit (did I tell you I’m training for a 50 miler?).

These are just a few of my tips. I hope they help. Running is one of the hardest activities to do. But one of the most liberating, pride-inducing, and healthiest as well.

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