Last month I met up with my running club for a Saturday group run. It was going to be a hot day, really hot, but we were going early and mostly running on shaded trails. Eight miles later, my pace had cratered, I was soaked, having sweated through my shoes, and reduced to walking the last half mile to get back to my car. It was a tough and disheartening workout. But it didn’t have to be.
Just like the recent side stitch training question, this other beginner one is also deceptively difficult to answer. Unless you’re one of those freaks of nature that can go out and run 10 miles at the drop of the hat and wondered what the fuss is all about, you are going to find running a miserable experience in the beginning.
You’ll wonder why people voluntarily do this to themselves and then lie when they say they love it. Early mornings? Hill repeats? Thresholds? Intervals? No thank you. It does get better. If you’re smart about it.
On the surface it seemed like an easy question. A friend was getting back into running and asked me why he was getting cramps or side stitches a mile into his run. I started to reply then stopped. I knew what he was talking about. Just about everyone has gotten that familiar acute pain in their side while running at some point. But when was the last time it had happened to me? It had been a while. And what really did cause those cramps? That simple question didn’t have a simple answer.
This year I’m making an effort to try new distances, new events, and new races that I haven’t done in the past.
I’m a type A personality and don’t usually have much of a problem getting out and exercising but that competitive and ambitious personality can also sometimes drive me over the edge. I’ll take on too much, or try to do one more mile, or one more workout, and end up running myself into the ground.
For a long time, I would keep checking off the workouts because it was on my list of things to do. Even if it felt like a slog. Even if I knew a day off would be more beneficial. Recently, I’ve tried to pay more attention to rest and recovery. Often we think of those things as part of preparing for the next workout but they also play a key part in developing a long-term love of running.
Maybe you are a runner by background or maybe you are a cyclist but you’ve signed up for a triathlon or maybe done one in the past and are giving it another shot. Whatever your single sport background, it’s likely you will not be totally prepared for T2 and the run leg. Or, as it’s commonly called “running off the bike” in triathlon.
I’ve gotten on the podiums with a good T2 and run my way all the way to top of the (AG) podium with a good run leg. It wasn’t be accident. Just like you train hard in the individual elements, you can train, practice and prepare to crush the back half of your next triathlon.
I’ll admit it. I really don’t mind the treadmill. Objectively, it’s a great training tool and lets anyone run year round without excuses. It’s especially good for beginners as you can control the pace, due it from the comfort of your home, and keep water or fuel nearby.
If you’re coming back from an injury or trying to start a new running habit I’m a firm believer in easing into your relationship with running to give your body time to adjust to the physical demands. The best way to stop a budding exercise habit in its tracks is to (over)do one workout and get so sore that you never want to use the treadmill again.