Beginning runners need less advice

I found this article recently, For Beginning Runners, Advice Can Be a Hurdle, and I thought it tied in nicely with my post, But what if I hate running?

I am inclined to agree with the NY Times article (wow — I don’t say that very often), except for the title.  I think people allow complicated advice to become a hurdle, when all along the real obstacle has been only this– running is difficult.  It takes your body longer to adapt to it than you would like, especially if you begin as slowly and carefully as you should.

Beginners want advice for this very reason: it is difficult, and they wish it weren’t.  I don’t blame them at all.  There is good advice to be had, but nothing will help as much as just getting out there.  Go for a run, however short, however slow.  Wait a day, then go for another.  Do it over and over again, even if it’s difficult.  Stop and walk if it hurts, but don’t give up.  It will get easier.

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How to be comfortable running in public: part 5

Run with others

You stand out a lot less when you’re part of a group.  There are running clubs almost everywhere.  You can search online for “running club ___,” filling in the name of your area.  Here you can find running clubs listed by stateA similar resource provided by the Road Runners Club of America seems more comprehensive.  You can also ask at a local running shoe store.  The staff will know of clubs.  Also, many stores serve as a meeting place for informal weekly runs.  People who live nearby just show up and run together at the appointed time.  Of course, you can also just call a friend.  Even running with one other person can help.

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Weekly mileage 13 Nov. – 19 Nov., 2011

Monday, 14th: 4 miles (or slightly more, since I started at the house, rather than at the end of the block) at 9:05 pace.

Tuesday, 15th: 4.75 at 9:37 pace.

Wednesday, 16th: 4 miles (or slightly more, same as Monday) at about 9:00 pace.  I’m not sure because I erased the total time on my watch before I’d really seen it.  I know what my time was at the 3.5 mile mark, so I used that to calculate my pace.  Plus pilates and weights.

Friday, 18th: 3.5 at 8:46 pace, plus weights.

Saturday, 19th: 4 at 9:07 pace.

Total: 20.25 miles

Total for 2011: 876.55 miles

Did you see?  I lifted weights twice!  I used to do that all the time, but I got lazy, and then it felt like a huge deal to squeeze that second session back in, even though it can barely be called a “session,” since it takes less than fifteen minutes and only targets my arms and abs.  Plus, I’m only lifting two eight-pound weights.  Now that I’ve written it out, I see that I could probably stand to challenge myself a little more.  Must return the gym membership form.

A quick reminder about traffic

I just have to say this.

When you’re running, if there is no sidewalk, and you must run in the road, you’re supposed to be facing traffic.  That is, running into traffic, running toward the cars that are coming toward you.  Cars are not supposed to come up behind you in the same lane and pass by your left shoulder.  This applies to all pedestrians, runners and walkers alike.

Normally, when runners explain this, they say, “Well, it’s so that you can see the cars nearest you, and they can see you.”  Very well.  But that is not sufficient.  That’s not the whole reason, and it’s not the only thing that matters.  The driver must see you, and you must see him, but the driver must also know that you see him.  If he comes up behind you, he cannot be sure that you see him.
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But what if I hate running?

A reader asked me this, and ever since, I’ve been trying to decide how to answer.  Initially, I thought, “Well, don’t run.  No one says you have to.”  But then I thought maybe this person really wishes she liked running because it’s such efficient and inexpensive exercise, and it’s so much nicer if you happen to also enjoy it.  So simply saying, “Well, just don’t do it then,” is kind of unhelpful.  Also, it’s not what I think she should do.

I think running, for those who don’t naturally love it, is an acquired taste worth acquiring.  There are acquired tastes I wouldn’t encourage anyone to develop (coffee, beer).  I say, if you’re so fortunate as to dislike those things, then by all means, just be grateful.  Those things aren’t good for you anyway.  But with running, I’d say, try to make yourself like it.

It sounds terrible, but it can absolutely be done.  I have heard so many runners say, “I always hated running, until…” or “I was never athletic, but then…”  Many people begin running because something other than a love of running makes them do it.  They want to lose weight, they’re stressed out, they’re having trouble sleeping (indeed — my husband began running in part because he could never sleep after a long day sitting at his desk).

Yes, it is awful at first.  You’ll hear runners say, “Oh, at first, I couldn’t run even half a mile, and after the first time, I swore I’d never do it again.”  This awfulness sometimes lasts several months.  But those who push through often end up loving running for its own sake.

There are many good things that we don’t naturally like.  A natural disinclination to run should be thoroughly tested and tried, at least by anyone who wishes she liked to run.  You can enjoy running, but you have to push through your hatred first.  If, on the other hand, you run three times a week for, oh, five or six months, and you still hate it, and all its benefits are not enough to keep you going, well, I think maybe you’d better join a gym so you can do something more interesting.  But I think you will find that, even if you still don’t enjoy it, you’ll love how much better you feel, and that might be incentive enough.

How to be comfortable running in public: part 4

Where to run

Consider where you’re running.  Some places will make you feel more comfortable than others.  Run where you feel comfortable.  Here are some ideas.

1. Runner-friendly areas

I do sometimes feel a little self-conscious in my neighborhood, especially in inclement weather (people will stare or offer me a ride) or when my neighbors are having a party, but once I get to the bike path/running trail, I feel right at home.  Even if I’m struggling, breathing hard, and badly dressed, I feel okay on the trail because there are so many other runners and cyclists.  On the other hand, as a beginner, you might feel more self-conscious around other runners, so you would avoid the trail.

Other runner-friendly areas to seek out or avoid, depending on your feelings, include parks (especially those with hiking trails) and the high-school track (check on availability, but usually residents can use it anytime the students aren’t).  Runner-friendly environments are nice if you’re doing speed workouts.  I feel stupid sprinting up the same hill over and over, right in front of someone’s house.  But no one thinks anything of it if you’re on a trail.

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Weekly mileage 6 Nov. – 12 Nov., 2011

Monday, 7th: 3.5 miles at 8:32 pace

Tuesday, 8th: 4.75 at 8:37 pace (I developed a migraine during this run and had to take a nap as soon as I got home.)

Wednesday, 9th: just pilates

Friday, 11th: 4.75 at 8:48 pace, plus weights

Saturday, 12th: 3.5 (I’m not sure on the pace because I stopped twice to check my heart rate, just out of curiosity.  It was 78 both times, which seems low.  Did I miscount, or could it really have been so low?  The total time was somewhere around 29 minutes, so I cannot have been going much slower than usual.)

Total: 16.5 miles

Total for 2011: 856.3 miles

Nothing much interesting this week.  I’ve been trying to fit in a second weight-lifting session, but it keeps getting away from me.

Breakfast recipe: Muesli?

I’ve looked at various recipes for muesli, and it’s confusing.  Some people mix uncooked oats with other dry things and store it until they’re ready to use it, at which point they treat it as cold cereal.  Other people mix uncooked oats with water, milk, or applesauce each time they want a serving.  As far as I can tell, everyone is making different things, but they all call it muesli.  So, I’m going to call this muesli because that’s what my recipe card calls it, because apparently no one is going to stop me, and because it sounds much more appetizing than “lukewarm oatmeal,” which is kind of what this is.

Muesli

Mix 1/3 cup quick oats with

1/3 cup hot (but not boiling) water.

Let rest for 12-15 minutes.

Add anything else you want.  Options include fresh or dried fruit, nuts, milk, jam, and honey.

The main thing I like about this is that it makes a smaller, thicker serving than a typical serving of oatmeal, so it’s easier to work protein into the meal.  I would not eat a bowl of oatmeal and a bowl of yogurt (too much wet stuff), or a bowl of oatmeal and an egg (too weird), so I end up eating oatmeal, fruit, and a muffin, which is something like two and a half servings of carbs.  Then, my blood sugar plummets right around the time I want to go running.  Muesli is much thicker than oatmeal, so it’s not as weird to have yogurt on the side.  Yogurt saves my blood sugar.

(Did you know that oatmeal is supposed to prevent the blood-sugar roller coaster effect?  It doesn’t work for me, but it might work for you, especially if you can add some milk.  Try oatmeal for breakfast if you’re prone to mid-morning hunger pangs.)

My nephew likes his oatmeal with yogurt stirred into it, which is undeniably healthy, but oh my goodness, the things his parents are getting away with.  He’s too young to know how disgusting this is, so nobody tell him, okay?  With any luck, he won’t find out until he’s married.

Back to the muesli.  My only complaint is the temperature.  If I took the pre-mixed cold cereal approach, it would be fine — cold throughout.  But then I’d be eating totally unsoaked, uncooked oats (as with granola), which isn’t the best thing.  Does anyone know how to create muesli that’s cold like dry cereal, but not totally uncooked?  Do I have to soak and dry the oats and then store them?

The New York City Marathon

The New York City Marathon was on Sunday.  You can read about the men’s race, the women’s race, and the U.S. elite runners. This is just terribly exciting to me.  Running events are the only sporting events I care about, and I care about them more than I can explain.  The only time I miss having regular television is during a big-city marathon.  Oh, it’ll be rough during the summer Olympics.  I could watch people running for hours and hours and not get bored.  But football?  My goodness.  What a lot of nonsense.

So, because I couldn’t get the streaming video to work on our computer, I spent large portions of Sunday and Monday reading any breaking news I could find, refreshing the Flotrack homepage, desperate for new videos, and even (so strange for me) reading tweets.  Apparently, the elites cross the finish line, get a hug, then pull out their fancy-pants phones and tweet something.  So much the better for me.

A year or so ago, I read A Race Like No Other, which is all about the New York City Marathon.  I found this absolutely gripping.  There are not many places I feel I need to see, but I have always wanted to visit New York City, and I think the best way to really see it would be to run the marathon.

When I visit a place, I don’t really want to “do” anything there; I just want to walk around, look up at the buildings, and imagine what it’s like to live there.  I want to see the people and get a cup of coffee from a coffee shop I’ve never been to, and then I’m all set.  So if Th. took me to New York City, all I’d want to do is walk around, gape up at the buildings, and feel overwhelmed.  That’s it.  What better way to do this, and make sure I’d seen the entire city, than to run the marathon?  Plus, it’s pretty difficult to convince someone to take you all the way to New York City for a cup of coffee and a leisurely walk.

What about you?  How do you prefer to see the sights?

How to be comfortable running in public: part 3

Running clothes

On a Saturday morning run, I passed two ladies running together.  They were both wearing three-quarter-length tights and brightly-colored long-sleeved tech tees.  This, if you want to know, is practically the official uniform for women out running in weather under 45 degrees.

It’s not what I was wearing, mind you.  Not even close.  I don’t dress that well for a runner, so maybe it seems as if I shouldn’t be giving advice.  But.  I don’t fail to wear the “right” things because I don’t know what they are.  It’s because I’m cheap and I don’t care.  But I am observant, and I know what clothes would be right to buy, if I were thinking of buying any.  So I’m just going to forge ahead and give my advice.

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