- I have been running for many years, and for a couple of years even participated in a few races (half marathons, 10k, nothing fancy) until I decided my introvert self overcomes my competitive self. I am by no way an expert on running, I am not a “running doctor” ( ok I am aware there is no such thing just wanted to emphasize) but I believe that the fact that I still struggle with some runs, I don’t have trillions of ultra’s hanging from
(the belt) my running shorts and the most important thing- after many years I still love running and find it one of the most liberating things a person can do- is qualification enough to be connected to beginners- and hand out my simple yet effective tips- in a way perhaps a truly qualified expert- might not be.
*And the last word on races: I admit that training for a race is a great way to get yourself going in the morning, but I am now in a good place of self-discipline and until this phase goes away- I’m letting that introvert in me enjoy its victory.
My current weekly workout plan includes :
#1 : Saturday at 06:45-07:55am- swimming– 2.25 km . (you can read here why I believe investing in a water-friendly music player is a great idea if you are committed to swimming: How Metallica stepped up my game at the pool this morning
#2: yoga: Sunday, Monday and Thursday: I’m using the down-dog app. just used the new year discount (60% off!) to upgrade to premium, after 6 months of using the free version. I do 35-45 minutes of intermediate 2 level- still can’t hack the da** crow pose or lolasana- and now they have this “elephant trunk” thing. come on. but- great workout -I absolutely love them. no affiliated anything.
#3: running: 2-3 times a week.16-20 k weekly total. this is finally evolving- after a long time of easy 2 mile jogs- (I Have tons of excuses, none of them are interesting or valid in any way)-I am back on track so to speak. only I don’t run tracks, or competitive, or in a group. I run alone. I have been running alone all my running life, can’t do it any other way. I know people swear by their running teams and coaches and mates -and say that they motivate them and get the best out of them, etc.
For those of you who are introverts- no explanation is in order. for those of you who aren’t -well enjoy the group thing and live happily ever after.
Over the years- being a very practical person -and one that dislikes making the same mistake 3 times (yes- two times does happen to me. a lot, sadly), I gathered 12 tips that work for me every time. basic, simple, frugal, environmental. and mental. check on everything a person might want.
#1: prepare a good playlist- and change it every week or two:
yes, I am aware that some people run without music- I simply can’t believe it. I love music and combine classic rock (Pink Floyd, led zeppelin, deep purple, rainbow, Metallica, with lighter stuff- queen, Alanis Morissette, Tracy Chapman, ELO, and when in need of an energy boost- pet shop boys will get me going. Spotify does a good job and the sound is great plus very little ad disturbance- and I didn’t go premium. I also listen to podcasts on Spotify.
#2: prepare ahead – find a good trail or running location
check it out for potential dangers /water breaks/restroom breaks. also, measure it so you know how much you ran even if you wish to leave your phone at home -(I know I just wrote something crazy).
make sure your trail is not too crowded – takes all the fun out of the running if you are stuck in runners’ traffic- and on the other hand- not too distant: if like me you like to run early in the morning- well then it’s a bit scary not to mention totally unsafe to start running at 05:30 in a distant place, all alone, in the dark.
Plus- having more than 10-15 minutes drive to your location in the early hours -is quite a turnoff – but- try to make sure you run somewhere pretty. feast your eyes and soul, why don’t you. if you can. try to find a park or river or majestic urban scenery. this takes some preparing ahead but It’s important. if you can find a trail that has some hills -even better.
the picture above is sunrise in my running location.
#3: find the best time to run.
I prefer morning time- by preferring I mean I always run in the morning- because I am a morning person and love the post-workout sensation and endorphins +the sense of doing something good for and with myself.
check out the hours at your preferred trail- for reasons of a crowd or creepy solitude- check above why.
#4: prepare your pre-workout snack ahead:
Something light yet nourishing- don’t stuff your face or you’ll regret it soon enough…
There are rumors about drinking a cup of black coffee 20 minutes before a run being beneficial- do your research. it’s fun.
#5: get your self a pair of good running shoes, and while you’re at it- a pair of running socks:
I have been running for years only with Saucony, good and solid shoes, I used to buy new ones every 9-12 months when I ran half marathons, but I have been running in the same pair for almost 3 years now- since there was only light jogging that didn’t impact the shoes so much. now that I’m back -I’m getting a new pair- and the previous ones are going to be used as working in the garden walking around- shoes.
#6: speaking of gear: don’t forget sunglasses and a cap when it’s hot- and gloves and a cap if it’s super cold.
it is no fun to forget how it feels to have fingers, or have earaches- or headaches- because your ears are frozen. it isn’t any fun either to squint because of the blinding sun the whole run -or worse- not see where you are going…
#7: dress appropriately: not too much- not too little!
When I run in the winter (early, very early in the morning) I see people dressed in heavy fleeces -almost coats. the temperature here is around 5-15 Celsius in the morning, (that’s 40 -60 Fahrenheit ) and while I agree this is cold- I believe going on a run overdressed- is not only killing the fun- it’s an obstruction of justice.
I mean- what you need to realize is while you may be cold at first- once you start running the body produces heat -and when you’ll be hot- you will have no one to carry your gear *that is assuming you are not the queen of England reading my post now. in case you are- you may skip this tip, your highness.
On the other hand- please don’t go being a hero: wear 2 layers when it’s cold, and remember tip #6.
*speaking of clothing– running in the rain can be pure fun- something we did as children and doesn’t do anymore- try it! but- be prepared: meaning- if you are on a trail a bit distant from home- have a bag with a change of clothes waiting for you in your car. don’t drive home soaking wet! and please- if it’s cold outside- check the forecast before starting a long run exactly when it starts raining. I find it exciting and fun to finish a run in the rain- knowing I prepared ahead and have hot water in the shower. otherwise- just do a long yoga session instead of running and next time remember to prepare ahead.
#8: this is a super important tip! -if running alongside a road- with headphones and some good music- run facing traffic– meaning- you can see every car/bus/truck aiming at you!
this is not always possible- happened to me today- the sides of the road weren’t equal- one was considerably narrower than the other so I had to run looking backward every 3 minutes – pain in the a**!! try to find a trail where you can make sure you can see traffic before it sees you.
By the way- this can happen in the park too- if running in traffic hours- cyclists and other runners- perhaps (?!?) faster than you -are around, with the sole intention of bumping into you. try to be aware -in spite of good music+ the famous zone, you might get into when having a good run.
#9: Emmmm keys?
If you are asking yourself “what about them keys?” then you need to get out of the house all happy and inspired, only to find out you have shorts with no zippers or pockets to put your house or car keys in, and you listened to advise #7 and only wore necessary light clothes with no pockets- and so you are now destined to run your whole run with the keys in your hands like some kind of idiot/burglar.
Well no you don’t!
An old trick is to untie one of your shoelaces, and tie it again – with your keyring -then tuck the connected keys- under the tied laces. next time you buy running shorts- remember to check if they have a key pocket, it’s a tad easier.
#10: this is the best tip of them all: prepare your post-workout snack before you head out!
this is a precious tip people- because it touches the very essence of human nature: we need meaning. we need a goal. we need foooooooooood!
by preparing ahead you will achieve setting that goal- (“this treat is waiting for me in the kitchen..I can finish this run …I have something to look forward to”) that is , of course- just until you get to that famous runner’s zone- then you can live on air and nothing else.
Plus- when you get back home tired and hungry- this is not the best time to start looking for something to eat. chances are you will end up eating something less than super healthy, chances are- mostly carbs. sometimes not of the best quality even.
This is not only bad for your health-(post-workout fuel is super important for building muscle- check this out!) but also for your mood.
You just finished a great run, had a great time with your body- connected you might even say. respected- for sure. now what? just because you neglected to think of post-workout fuel- you go back to disrespecting your body (and yourself?)
*Plus- if you are anything like me- thinking about food- specifically my next meal- is one of my favorite hobbies- so.
If this is summer and you fancy a smoothy- please don’t make it ahead. sorry- unless you freeze it- it turns disgusting sitting idly in the fridge.
Prepare everything you need for that smoothy- bananas, soy milk, dates, greens, apples, chia seeds, etc- cut and organized so you just have to pop it in the Vitamix, and bam.
Fancy soy yogurt with oats and bananas? great idea! make sure everything is waiting for you to cut and organized it- I wouldn’t mix them ahead- but this is a matter of taste.
If you feel like a proper meal- vegan omelet style- go ahead and cut you adding -I would dare suggest even frying your adding ahead- and have them waiting for the batter in the pan. make sure you have whole wheat bread or focaccia, and avocado or tahini or hummus -some good protein to spread on.
add a salad- make sure the veggies are washed and ready to cut.
Want to go wild? eat a hearty bowl of beans. add quinoa.
have a salad with quinoa. crazy. wow.
#11: please please don’t overdo it!
search and consult and find a good plan that fits your health and fitness level. many beginners burn themselves in the first month or two- it is easy to burn out your unused muscles and end up doing more damage than good. take it easy- you have a whole lifetime to enjoy the beauty of running!
#12: Don’t give up!
It takes time to build a running habit and to get the famous high everyone is raving about. don’t worry- be persistent and take good care of yourself, eat well and rest when needed, don’t overdo it- and enjoy! running is healthy, frugal, exciting, and fun!