After running hundreds of miles over many years (if not decades), experienced runners have learned a few things about what works, what doesn’t, and how to make running a life-long habit.
What Experienced Runners Do
I sure don’t feel old enough to be considered an ‘experienced’ anything, but considering 2018 is the 20th anniversary of my first marathon, I guess there is no getting around the fact I am, in fact, an experienced runner.
Have a Plan and Make a Date
Which would you be more likely to skip out on:
- A run…of some distance, sometime today
- A 3-mile run around the lake at 6:30 PM
It’s much easier to bail on a run when you only have a vague notion of what you are going to do or when. Other obligations will creep up, other priorities will feel more important, and before you know it, you’ve put your run off and it’s time to go to bed.
Veterans know to schedule runs into the calendar. We treat a run like any other important appointment of the day: “I have a work meeting at 9 am, the dentist at 2, and a 4 mile run at 5:30.”
Have a Plan B (And Plan C)
Even when you schedule your runs, things may prevent you from running. Illness, work travel, weather so bad it isn’t safe to go out and run.
Experienced runners have a Plan B, and in many cases, also have a Plan C and D, for days when things just don’t go according to plan.
Maybe you can’t get out for the 4 mile run you scheduled into your calendar, but with other options like access to a treadmill, cross-training options, breaking up a long run into multiple shorter runs (when you don’t have enough time), you will remain active, even if you can’t do your planned run.
Track Running Shoe Usage
I know, running shoes are expensive, and breaking in a new pair can be a pain in the butt, but they don’t last forever.
Mileage adds up quickly, especially if you are training for a distance event like a marathon or a half marathon.
The useful life of a pair of shoes varies depending on the brand and model, but 400-500 miles is a good rule of thumb. Ask about the lifespan of your shoe model at a specialty running store or on the shoe’s website.
Many run tracking apps, like Garmin Connect, have features to track your shoe mileage so you know when it’s time for a new pair.
Experienced runners know to switch out shoes when they need it. Your body will thank you.
Know the Difference Between What the Body and the Mind Tells You
Your body can usually be trusted. It will tell you when you are hungry or thirsty or when you are on the verge of injury.
But very often, your mind is a liar. It will seek comfort and lead you astray.
Your mind will tell you when you are tired, well before you actually are. It will try to convince you to quit long before you actually have to.
It can be hard to tell the difference, and the signals are different from runner to runner.
Experienced runners have learned the difference between what their bodies and their minds are telling them.
Know Some Runs Will Be Terrible
Terrible runs are never fun. No one likes to have a terrible run, but they will happen.
You can do everything right, and still, they will happen.
It may not make a bad run feel any easier, but experienced runners know that some runs will be great, and some will be terrible.
Experienced runners know not to take a bad run personally, or use it to judge your worth as a person or as a runner.
Do the run, learn what you can from the bad runs, then move on.
Respect Rest Days
It can be tempting to ignore those rest days on the calendar. To use those days to catch up on the miles you missed earlier in the week when you were sick or bank a few miles ‘just in case.’
But your body needs to rest and recover. That needs to be respected.
Rest days aren’t avoiding training, they are part of training.
Depending on your body and your training plan, your rest days may be total rest days, cross training days, easy running days, or active recovery days, but whatever the plan says, experienced runners know to respect it.
Ignoring rest days will only lead to injury and burnout.
Have Runner Friends
It can be fun to talk about running (or in my case, write about running). But not everyone enjoys listening to you talk about running.
If your friends and loved ones aren’t runners, they may have a limited tolerance for listening to you talk about that great runs or complain about the bad ones (although one of my great joys in life is dropping into casual conversation how many miles I ran that morning when my non-running friends complain about being tired).
Running friends (be they real-live people or online friends you’ll never meet face-to-face) will listen to you go on and on about your running. They will go on and on about their running.
Hopefully, you can learn from each other, commiserate, and give each other advice and encouragement when you are feeling down on your running.
What about you? What have you learned about running?