Monday, May 17, 2010

Runner's Forum

Do you wish you knew more about running? Do you have this itching desire to try something truly challenging for your mind and body--like running a marathon? Do you have questions about training, racing, or running in general?
     This is the perfect place to ask your questions. Two weeks ago I opened up to questions and two brave souls asked away. Here is the first of what will hopefully be many Runner's Forums here on The Skinny. Please leave your questions in the comments section and be assured that you are doing a huge favor for all the other people who have the same question but are too afraid to ask it.

Q: Kathy asked about tips for "rank beginners." Her concerns are that she feels awkward while running and tires easily. She also asked what kinds of goals are good for beginners.

A: These are great questions for someone who is just getting interested in running. So first I applaud Kathy for trying something new and for not being afraid to ask for help. Kathy, you are a star! As for feeling awkward while running, I think that will fade away as you run more. It seems that Mark is probably already helping you a lot with that by showing you some form. Tiring easily is common for new runners. That is why the best way to start running is by alternating walking and running like you have been. A great beginner goal is to extend the length of time you can run without walking. Perhaps you can run about 15 seconds without feeling too uncomfortable; set a goal to work up to running a minute without stopping. Here's how the workout might look: walk for three minutes to warm up, run 15 seconds, walk a minute, run 20 seconds, walk a minute. Continue alternating for about 20 minutes and then cool down by walking for about 5 minutes. It is going to depend on your own situation whether it takes you one workout to get up to running a minute straight or a few workouts to get there. Then set a goal to run for 2 minutes without stopping. As with any goal, keep setting new ones to challenge yourself but don't be ashamed that you still walk for part of your workout. Focus on your progress. Wouldn't it feel great to be able to run for 30-45 minutes without stopping to walk? That's about how long it takes most people to run a 5K. So register for a race. After you have a race under your belt, you are no longer a beginner in my book!

Q: Katie asked about how to become better at running. She wants to be able to run longer without stopping to walk. She is registered for a 5K and would like to run the whole distance, but isn't sure how to build up to that.

A: I'm so excited for you to run this race, Katie! You are really challenging yourself and this will be a great accomplishment. Are you currently following any type of training schedule? Your race day is the same as mine! So we've got about 4 weeks to go, right? I strongly recommend you run 3 times a week. Running regularly makes a huge difference. Especially when you are getting (back) into running, taking more than 2 days off from running significantly increases your chance of soreness. That just turns into a downward spiral.
     Another tip I have for you is that you consider your pace. You were running before that miraculous phase of life called pregnancy. Now that you are saying goodbye to all those extra pounds, you probably feel like picking up where you left off on the running. However, after such a big change in your body composition you likely need a slower pace than you ran before. Picking the right pace will allow you to run longer without stopping. Runner's World magazine (Jan. 2007) puts these definitions on pace:
  • Easy: at this pace you could last all day, no labored breathing, speak in long sentences.
  • Medium: still comfortable, but working harder, can still finish a sentence.
  • Hard: uncomfortable, pushing your limit, can't get out 2 words without a big breath between them.
So find the pace for you that is around the medium mark. It is probably slower than you have been running recently, but it is more sustainable. You will find yourself running longer distances without stopping. Even if it takes you longer, you get that sense of accomplishment by doing the whole distance without slowing to walk. This is another reason why I love having a running partner; we keep a reasonable pace because we talk. And because we talk, the distance is more enjoyable.

     As a closing comment, I would just like to explain that these answers are opinions based on experience and some research. I discuss the questions with my running partner and refer to Runner's World magazine (2007 issues that I picked up for free from the local library that is relocating and down-sizing!) for more information. Helpful comments and positive input are always welcome here on The Skinny.


Katie said...

Thanks Em! The definitions of pace will definitely help me a lot. Thanks for the great advice!

Kathy Haynie said...

Emily, this was helpful to me. Last night Mark and I went for a walk to stretch our sore calf and thigh muscles - still achey from the hike up Dog Mountain on Saturday. I tried a little interval running, going for a little bit more each time, and it worked well for me. The longest I was able to actually run (slow pace) was 35 seconds, so I have plenty of room to grow!

Mark and I signed up as walkers for the Up the Lazy River Run on May 31. It's a 10K in West Linn/Lake Oswego. We'll be walking a 5K this Saturday in Sellwood, with the Sarcoma Foundation, in honor of Brad Ventura.

alee said...

Good for you guys! One thing my mom always told me was to make sure that I could talk while running, but not sing...that is what she learned about pacing. If you can sing, you aren't going hard enough and if you can't talk, you are going too hard. Try it out!

Joo Lin said...

So I found this blog through a series of blog-surfing. Hope I'm not intruding :)

I wasn't a runner and then I found this program to run a 5K and it worked for me and a couple friends.

I've now run 2 5K races and I'm so pleased!

You're doing great and I think it's wonderful you have such specific goals.

We'd love to hear from you!

Want to write a guest post for The Skinny? E-mail Katie at kathleenann08 (at) gmail (dot) com.