There aren’t a lot of rules to running. For the most part you just get out there and do it. All you need is a desire and maybe a good pair of shoes an you’re all set. With that, there’s a few things that I have learned (and re-learned) over the years that I thought I would share with you:
- Poop before you run. This is vitally important. You need to void your bowels before getting out on the trail or the road or the track. A few miles in you will notice some changes. You may be able to get by with not doing this for a short run but for the long runs it is a must. This is why the portajohn lines are so long in the minutes before the start of the race. This is also a good reason to have some coffee in the morning. In addition too being a great energy booster for your run, coffee helps to keep everything moving. If you forget, just remember that you can finish a run without socks… Just in case.
- Incorporate a dynamic warm up and cool down. This is one that I learned fairly recently. I had been warming up and cooling down with the same static stretches I did in high school. Once I realized that static stretching is a huge waste of time, I went to something different. I tried to stretch my way out of an ITBS injury to no avail. Once I started incorporating dynamic warm ups and cool downs, my injuries are at worst under control and nonexistent at best. If you need a routine, Jay Johnson, Jason Fitzgerald , and RunnersConnect all have great warm up and cool down routines for you to try.
- If you’re injured, a physical therapist will probably be a better resource than a physician. This one is also recently learned. Whenever I have gone to the doctor for a running injury, they have advocated for me to stop running. Almost every time I’ve been smack dab in the middle of a training cycle. The physician has also never been able to tell my why the injury actually happened or what to do to prevent that injury in the future. A physical therapist takes a different approach . As experts in the biomechanics they often understand injury mechanisms very, very well and can give you specific exercises to heal and to prevent the injury in the future. Sometimes self diagnosis and googling a physical therapy protocol are all you need to do in order to get better and back on the road.
- Double knot your shoes and tuck the laces in. I have always double knotted my shoes since I started running. Every once in a while they would come undone. After I started tucking them in they never come untied. I picked up tucking in the laces from Carrie Tollefson. She’s an olympian, mom, and an absolutely fantastic race commentator. She’s also got a great YouTube channel. Her video on lacing your shoes is here.
- Racing well is going to hurt. There is no way around it. If you want to get the most out of yourself on race day you will have to endure a degree of pain for a significant period of time. All growth is uncomfortable, and you do a lot of growing in the second half of a marathon. Learn to deal with the suffering in your training runs and race day will still hurt, but you will be better able to deal with the pain. As you get better as a runner, it does not get easier you just become better at managing the suffering.