Thursday, August 16, 2012

An A to Z of being new to running

A - addiction - be prepared for what could well become the healthiest (though probably most obsessive) addiction you are ever likely to develop. Quickly you'll understand why running friends go on about the 'buzz' of running.

B -  beginning - rapidly it will become clear that beginning to run will lead to a great many other beginning moments, everything from training plans to racing to diet schemes.

C - clothes collection - beware that after not very long you will likely begin to gather something of a clothing hoard. Don't be surprised when you find yourself considering an extra kit for when the other is in the wash, one for wet weather, one for cold weather, one for cross-training, and all this besides race t-shirts if you start signing up.

D - DOMS - you will come to understand the ebb and flow of DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness). Generally 36 to 48hours after a training session the aches will peak and let you know just how much work you really did.

E - education - I found myself becoming an avid consumer of running magazines, websites and blogs, finding out all I could about the methods and processes of running.

F - fun - does this really need explaining?

G - gels - you may never have heard of them, seen them or tasted anything quite like them. Useful for energy during long events, experiment, test, and remember there are a few alternatives to the sticky gunge (jelly beans, energy bars, and so forth).

H - health - it is everywhere just how unhealthy various parts of the World are, the health benefits of running are too numerous to list and will be very individual to you.

I - injury - kind of ironic that I could follow health with injury as in some respects they often go hand in hand in a kind of balancing act. Never be shy about seeking advice and help with any issue, niggle or even drama. If they come they may set you back, but the bounce back might make things feel all the sweeter. Having an injury often heightens your realisation of just where your running has taken you down the paths of health and healthy addiction.

J - joy - completing any aspect of running can fuel feelings of joy, not just the finish line of a 'big' race. Completing your training loop faster than ever, running up that hill without slowing, realising your waistline has shrunk, that shiny new pair of trainers... and on and on

K - kit - no not clothes again, this kit is for gadgets (heart rate monitors, watches, phones, music players, GPS, packs, bottles, and so on). I defy anyone you runs even for a few weeks to not fall into the arms of at least some of these 'must haves', truth is a lot might not be actually necessary but sometimes the stuff just validates that "yes, I am a real runner"-type mantra.

L - legs and lungs - very rapidly you'll find that your whole system is required, strong legs don't get very far without good lungs. It is that very holistic sense of your full body in motion that might be that source of simple primal feel good factor.

M - mileage monitoring - one way or another the calculation of distance will take up meaningful portions of your spare thinking time, before, during and after runs.

N - nutrition - quickly you realise that timing food all wrong can have awful effects during and after a run.

O - ouch - yes, ouch, it will hurt, does hurt... sometimes... other times not at all.

P - physiotherapy - make an acquaintance with a good physiotherapist, even if you are never properly in need of one for medical reasons they can help prepare your body and revive your body as your runs get longer and longer... and longer.

Q - quitting - there will be days when you'll want to quit, but these will be balanced and cancelled out by the joys, fun and gains of running on amazing run days.

R - repetition - I am not going to be coy about it there will be no getting away from repetition, unless you can goad your route finder into a total new route everyday.

S - stretching - you will read all manner of articles about stretching "do this", "don't do that", "do it before", "do it after",... there appears no definitive. I have found that moving (dynamic) stretching is great before and that continuing to move afterwards aids recovery. Sitting on the couch for an hour immediately before or especially after a run is a sure way of making your body ache like you've never known.

T - trainers - they say that the only thing you need to get out running is a suitable pair of trainers / training shoes. It is only when you start running that the World of options will begin to dazzle and confuse. Seek out sound advice and go to a store that offers a good fitting service. Good shoes may cost a bit more than their fashion counterparts but then think how much your ankles, knees or hips will cost you if they wear out.

U - unusual - at first the whole thing can feel very unusual and frankly running several times a week for months can on the face of it seem odd. Your friends / colleagues may single you out for "why are you doing that?" type comments, which can delay the feeling that running is that usual thing you do.

V - variety - not only the spice of life as the saying goes, but also the spice of running. Don't plug away at the same route all the time, explore, investigate parts of your region / area. All best done with a training buddy, the conversations you'll have on their own will get the variety going.

W - weather - although you thought you complained about the weather about as much as the next person your appreciation of the hows, whys and whens of the forecasting art will expand many fold as you look at your plan, look at the forecast and then work out just what clothes you'll need in the week ahead. Moreover you'll be surprised how weather hardened you'll quickly become, running in the rain is often actually very pleasant.

X - x-training - okay, so I cheated an 'x' in here, but you might find that running gets you back in the squash court, the swimming pool, the football pitch, the gym. Look at all the things you do in different sports as training to run and running as training for sports and x-training (cross-training) in effect becomes a habit not a chore.

Y - youth - re-gain and maintain months and years of your life.

Z -  zzzzzzzzzz - volume of sleep is never to be under-estimated. Get enough and you'll be powering along. The best part as I have found is that sleep is often easier to achieve, deeper and more restful as a result of training / running.

I could go back and entirely re-write this with new choices and therein lies the best part of being new to running (or an regular runner) access to a whole new life vocabulary deepening and reinforcing that joy of being on the move. 

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