Run to Live, Live to Run

Sunday, February 21, 2010

The Dog Days of Winter...

    Ok, say by now you've cursed the weatherman, cursed your neighbor for taking the parking spot you dug out, the local government for lack of snow removal skills, and if you're like me, even cursed God for making it all happen.  Anyways, the end is in sight, and despite the horrible conditions the past few weeks, I've still managed to get in my half marathon training, in creative ways nonetheless.  Today was actually pretty nice out, about 45, sunny and most streets just wet.  I got in a nice 45 minute tempo run, but lately it's been tough to get in a decent outdoor run.  I absolutely hate the treadmill, so I have to be very creative.  I've got a membership to the YMCA, which is very valuable this time of year.  On days I haven't been able to run outside, I've gotten in great conditioning workouts at the gym.  Usually, I warm up with a nice 15 minutes on the bike or the elliptical trainer, then full stretching and core training with the weighted exercise balls.  Throw in 3 sets each of 25 push-ups, pull-ups and dips.  I top it all off with a 30-40 minute swim.  I alternate laps with different strokes swimming and also strapping on a floatation belt and do some laps of pool running.  It provides the body with just as much aerobic benefit & exhaustion as a run when it's just too crappy outside.  It also just feels great.  My body gets probably the best night's sleep after a pool workout.
    As for you, if you're already an established runner or are actively training for a goal race, great for you.  If not, but you wish to and you're finding it tough to get motivated this time of year, don't get down about it.  It's not that hard to start a training program.  A logical first step would be to get some good shoes that fit your feet, body type and running goals.  I always tell folks to go out and see Mike Monagle at  Delaware Running Company in Greenville Shopping Center and they will set you up nice.  Sure you can go to Dick's or Sports Authority if you want know what you're looking for or want to find a deal, but nobody there is going know anything about finding the right shoe for you.  The Running Company is staffed by runners who know how help other runners find the right gear for them.
    The next step is getting out the door (or on the treadmill if that is your preference) but the only way to become a better runner is to start logging miles.  Start small, not too far, not too fast, say a few miles or 25-30 minutes at a comfortable talking pace.    Walking is ok too...maybe alternate 1 minute walking breaks for every 2 minutes running and then gradually work your way up adding another minute running.   If you have a dog, it's also a great excuse to get him or her out.  If not, think about adopting one-check out the DE Humane Shelter or Faithful Friends to get started on that.  The goal when you go out is to enjoy yourself.  It doesn't have to suck or be painful.
    Once you start running, it's a safe routine to go every other day...say 3-4 times each week, gradually building up mileage or time.  I go with time, just because I don't always have the time or patience to measure out the distance of every run.  It's a good routine to add 10% each if you ran 4 days in the week, totaling about 20 miles, just add 2 more miles to the next week's total.  Or add 3-4 minutes to your average run each week if you're not keeping track of distance.  Now once you're into a nice routine and comfortable adding distance or time on a regular basis, you can add in weekly long run if you like.  It should be 30-40% of your weekly running total, so if you're logging 21 miles for the week, have your long run be 7-8 miles.  If you'd like to map out a distance and don't have the means to measure it, a great tool to use is Google Maps.  Go to the main page, click "My Maps", then "Browse Directory" and then "Distance Measurement Tool"'s very accurate and very simple to use.
    A great way to keep track of your progress is to keep a diary or a running log.  Write down everything...where you ran, how long, what you saw, what you ate before and after, any pain or problems and how it made you feel (hopefully great).  You'll be surprised at how much you can learn from yourself. 
    Enough for now...I'm off to bed and to pray for rain to do some more melting the next few days.  Hopefully later this week the streets will be easier to navigate.  Spring is 4 weeks away...until then, the pool better be ready for me.

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