Today, as I was thinking about balance and growth in work, family, friends, interests, and personal care, I was reminded of the many lessons I've learned from running. 🏃🏽♂️ Here are a few thoughts of what we can learn about and through our inherent ability to speed up our gait.
After getting through the first few chapters of Born to Run close to a decade ago, I felt something unique happening in my body. I was tingling all over. The drive and desire deep inside these real-life characters who were inherently drawn to running were simmering inside me as well. The book is a love story for anyone that has enjoyed running at any point in their life. And it’s a reminder for me as I reminisce about the injuries that ensued after reading that there are key lessons to be honored through my years of training and racing.
Here are 4.
Pacing. One of the most common mistakes we can make as novice runners and other energy outputs is poor pacing. In racing, many people go out too fast. In training, people run at one pace, and it's usually moderate to moderately strenuous. The learning here is the value of different effort levels. Easy, conversational pacing promotes aerobic, fat-burning efficiency. Faster, interval-type pacing helps build strength, power and protects joints. The mere skill of toggling pace through practice can inform many areas of our lives. I like to approach Sunday with Henry and Hawk like one long-running day. I'm trying to nail the coveted negative split. 🤣
Rest. I wrote about periodization previously to dive into the science of recovery and restoration. The hard truth for many of us is that we are not very good at recognizing how to balance our energy outputs. We tend to run harder (faster and more volume), and we 'work' harder because we seek immediate results. The key lesson here is that rest is the gateway to more tremendous strides. To optimize our speed, distance, and health, we must learn to listen to our bodies and heed the signals. Our bodies have great ways to tell us to slow down or take a day off. For example, your resting heart rate as you wake will rise over time as your systems are taxed. Time to take a recovery day!
Gravity. I'm still trying to win this battle. I've always wanted to dunk a basketball. The closest I've come is a tennis ball (16 years ago 😝). In all seriousness, gravity is why running can cause so much impact stress. If you take over 10,000 steps within an hour of running and your foot landing on the pavement is imbalanced and unsupported, you will run into issues. Injuries like stress fractures, plantar fasciitis, and IT Band syndrome are prevalent in the running world. Understanding the mechanics of our body, running form, and gravity can help guide us to more intentional practices like mid-foot running, track drills, and good posture.
Comfort. Many people avoid running because of discomfort, whether it's the rub of clothing, the sweat, or the awkward feel of stress on your joints. Comfort takes practice and can take a long time to achieve, depending on the imbalance in your physiology. Patience can pay off! My payoff is that I can run in nearly any clothing I'm wearing (including dress shoes). It's merely good form and comfort in technical dress clothes (like Uniqlo). I've also been able to translate to other areas of my life by being patient with my progress, knowing the outcome can pay off over a long time (ahem, this blog). 🙌🏽
When reading Born to Run, the tingling that flowed through my body mainly was imaging myself on grand adventures in epic locations like Caballo Blanco. I love to travel, I love movement, and I love pushing limits. That's my fun. What does having fun look like for you. It may have nothing to do with running. Maybe it's paddleboarding? Or surfing? Or dancing with friends? Start with fun, or you likely won't sustain it. In the meantime, if you are going for a run anytime soon, keep these tips in mind. 🙏🏽