Did you just take up running or have you decided to start training for a long distance race? If so, yay! Welcome to the world of running and the supportive running community that comes with it 🙂 Below are some pieces of advice for runners who are new to the sport or who are beginning the adventure of long distance running.
Easy pace and effort
Increasing your mileage is really exciting and also a big stress on your body. Let’s say your runs are getting longer and you’re starting to run double digit miles (woohoo, long runs!). Take these at a super easy pace, meaning a pace where you can easily have a conversation or sing a song out loud without having a take a breath every few steps. It should be comfortable and slow. That means you’re doing it right! Doing intervals during a long run like run 8 minutes easy / walk 2 minutes is also a way to slowly build up into long runs.
Just because your mileage is increasing doesn’t mean your pace on these long runs will too. In fact, as a new long distance runner they shouldn’t. Think about focusing on one stressor for each hard effort run. On a long run, the stressor is distance. On a speed workout, the stressor is pace.
And don’t be fooled – long run at an easy pace are still hard effort runs. You’re out running for multiple hours and your body needs to recover from that in order to get stronger.
As a runner for 5+ years, I’ve learned the hard way that recovery is just as important as the physical training, if not more important. I’ve found myself in overtraining syndrome a couple of times. I was training while not sleeping well, dealing with high anxiety, and putting way too much on plate in all areas of my life, and ultimately, it affected my running. Lack of recovery can not only lead to burnout and overtraining, but it also significantly increases a risk for injury.
As a coach, I give my athletes at least one complete rest day a week in addition to a list of things they can choose do on their rest days (and any day, actually) to help them with recovery. These things include: going for a walk, easy yoga, foam rolling, stretching, taking an epsom salt bath, taking a nap, icing any area that needs it, and putting their legs up the wall.
Hip strengthening exercises
Building strong hips is imperative for runners. Weak hips, which can result from sitting a lot (like having a a desk job) and/or neglecting to do strengthening exercises, can lead to injury and instabilities. Strong hips stabilize you as you’re running and propel you forward.
Some exercises I encourage people to do ~3x a week are: banded clamshells, side leg lifts, banded side steps, banded monster walks, and hip thrusts. There are YouTube videos that demonstrate how to properly perform these exercises.
With social media it can be easy to see how everyone else is performing, what their splits are, and how long their runs are. My advice: put on your blinders and focus on how you are progressing. Stay focused and don’t get sucked into looking at what others are doing. What works for them works for them. You need to find what works for you because that is how you are going to be successful.
Set personal goals for yourself that excite you. This could be training for a new distance or for a PR, committing to running 5x a week, or pushing yourself and your mentality more during workouts.
Isn’t that what running is all about? Having fun and getting outside? Enjoy it! If you’re running and you don’t like it or are feeling frustrated, think about why. Are you comparing yourself to others? Are you expecting too much too soon? Are you not recovering properly? Talk to a friend or another runner about how you’re feeling and maybe they can give you some outside perspective as to what’s going on. And maybe running isn’t for you and that’s completely fine. Find a way to move your body and get outside that you enjoy.
What’s one piece of advice you’d give to a beginner runner?