This year marks my 10th year of running. Honestly, I never imagined myself to be running this long, but I believe that Pinoy Fitness and this community has been the key to how I was able to sustain this sport for so long.
Running looks simple. With a good pair of shoes, anyone can do it. But after 10 years, what I can say is, running is simple, but running for a long time is hard. In the span of 10 years I’ve seen runners who gave up, lost motivation, injured, heck, I even witnessed someone who almost died running a race.
What I learned is to never take this simple sport for granted. After 10 years of running, here are a few things I learned that can help you make running a lifetime sport.
1. Invest in a Good Pair of Shoes
A lot of people (including myself) started running without knowing the difference between a running and a training shoe. I started running with my old pair of badminton shoes back in 2010, it seems practical. But after a few aches and pains, I finally learned that not all shoes are created equal. If you’re into running, go get a running shoe and choose a brand that fits you.
Here’s a quick video I made before to help you with the basics on how to find the right shoes for you – Watch This
2. Respect the Distance
Lately I feel that a lot of runners are jumping to the 21K race distance without proper training. Don’t jump into a 21K just because you where able to finish a 10K race. I understand that most runners nowadays love the 21K distance, but don’t get peer pressured into joining a race distance you did not prepare for.
Indeed, our body is capable of doing extraordinary things; You can run, walk, crawl and eventually finish the race, but running a race you are not prepared for can make the experience unpleasant, or injure you to a point you have to quit running for a while or for good.
Take your time, enjoy the process, there will always be more race to join, the rule of thumb is to increase mileage for just about 10-15% per week. For returning runners, same rules apply, don’t expect your body to pick-up where you left off 3-6 months ago.
A training plan can help you get a more structured approach in running, we have a few FREE training plans you can use here.
3. Recovery is part of Training
When it’s time to rest… REST. Don’t go out and run on your rest days. Your body needs the time to recover and repair broken down muscles. Failure to respect rest days can lead to more fatigue later on in your training.
Here are some tips on what you can do during rest days: How to keep your Sanity on Rest Days
4. Sleep More
Trading Z’s for mileage can lead to unwanted results, I’ve seen people faint, throw up or hospitalized during races because they lack sleep. Especially for runners, sleep is a very important for recovery and is critical for performance; it’s the time your body heals to help you become stronger and faster. During training, if you’re feeling sleepy or weak, listen to your body, skip a workout or two, your body will thank you later.
We normally can’t sleep before the big race, that’s OK, but make sure you’re well rested the entire week.
5. Nutrition is Key
I used to think I can eat anything I want just because I run, I’m can burn it anyway right? It took me 3-4 years to realize how wrong that mindset was. As a runner, it’s not about the quantity but the quality of what we eat.
If you know me personally, I eat a lot! I normally order food good for 2, and I’m always hungry. What I did for the last couple of years is to reduce intake of sugary products and simple carbs and noticed that I was able to maintain my weight even during off-season.
But hey! Life is short. So I do still reward myself with a can of soda or some Ice Cream once in a while, especially after a long run.
6. Drink More Water + Electrolytes
We run a lot and we sweat a lot, dehydration will happen and this can reduce our performance and slows down recovery. When we sweat, we not only lose water but also small amounts of carbs, salts, and other minerals called electrolytes. After a long run, have you ever felt thirsty even after jugging down a liter of water? That could be a sign you need to replenish more than just water.
If you’re running to lose weight, refrain from gulping down bottles of sports drink, instead look for low calorie electrolyte tabs you can add into your water.
7. Invest in a good Running Watch
I would recommend investing in a good GPS running watch that can connect to your phone and to an online community service like Strava. Most modern running watches now includes an optical heart rate monitor that can track your heart rate when you run. This can help you determine if you’re over training or pushing yourself too hard during a race.
Connecting the watch to an online service like STRAVA also help you keep track of your performance and gives you a chance to look back on your previous races. The community in these services can also be a motivating factor to help you to keep on running.
8. Race, Then Pace
In the first few years of running it will normally be all about racing and chasing your next personal best. But after 3-4 years, it can get tiresome and frustrating to always push beyond your physical limit. Eventually I learned to calm down and treat running not as a race, but as a means to have a fitter lifestyle.
Then I discovered the rewards of being a pacer, the act of helping a someone or a group of runners to achieve a specific time or distance… or in short to help them to run. This new mindset helped me maintain the motivation and gave me more reason to keep on running.
9. Know when to Stop Running
Learn the different between SORE and PAIN, soreness due to muscle fatigue should recover in a few days, but pain due to injuries can last for weeks.
One of the worst injuries I got was Plantar Fasciitis. As a newbie runner, even when injured, I would still force myself to run because I’m afraid that I would lose the endurance that I have built over the years. Don’t do it. Know when to stop and allow your injury to heal.
If you’re afraid to lose your endurance, try alternative workouts for the meantime, like swimming.
10. Don’t forget to have FUN
Last but not least, don’t forget to have FUN. Running can really be a lifetime sport, but it won’t be if you don’t have fun while doing it. Celebrate that new personal best, go around the world and run marathons, help a friend to lose weight, whatever it is that motivates you to run, don’t forget to enjoy every step of the way.