Endorphins, running faster than a 3-year-old and some advice
John Stanton, founder and president of the Running Room, writes like a man with lots and lots of endorphins coursing through his body.
“Congratulations on your running start. As your body adapts to the rigors of training you will also discover the many benefits running brings to our lives,” said Stanton when asked him for advice on how to adjust my thinking when it comes to running.
A big part of this ambitious overhaul is to put a halt on the impact my desk life is having on my physical health.
I want to run and enjoy physical challenges but running has always felt a bit like purgatory (being outpaced by 3-year-olds is also fairly humbling), and despite multiple attempts have not gotten very far.
I explained this to Stanton and asked for his advice, which I am copying below. It is a long post and more of a pep talk than how to deal with side cramps and aching feet. But I found it useful.
“Runners struggle occasionally to get themselves out the door to train. Motivation comes from within us. Do not rely on the coach or the club to motivate you to achieve your lifelong goals. Training tips supply the inspiration—now it is up to you to supply the motivation and perspiration.
Be gentle and yet progressive.
Set short-, mid- and long-term goals.
Build some rest days into your training.
Mentally prepare as well as physically prepare for every race.
Build long slow distance, strength and speed training into all programs.
Adapt your training to the conditions and take pride in your courage to accept the challenge to run. If you find running boring, it may be you can’t stand running with yourself for 30 or 40 minutes, so invite a friend along or join a group for motivation.
I am a Runner, I am an Athlete
As we begin running, we say “I jog.” Then, with a little more confidence and not a whole lot more speed, we say “I run.” One day we start referring to ourselves as “runners.” After running for a while we start to understand the gift of being an “athlete.” As an athlete we encounter and celebrate our mental, physical and emotional strengths while discovering the ability to make the impossible possible.
Athletes understand balance in life. Balance in sport, in our careers, in our families and in our communities. Creating this balance is what separates the individual and the athlete.
An athlete can be you, your mom or dad, your children, your family members or your neighbor. An athlete is the ordinary person striving and achieving the extraordinary accomplishment of attaining their personal goal through an intelligent training plan. They also know the importance of having a strong support group to both train with and to celebrate their achievements.
For many runners, we began running to quit smoking, lose weight, or take control of our lives during stressful times—a job change, a death of a loved one or some other personal yet very specific goal. However, we continue to run for a variety of reasons often far different than the ones motivating us to start running. Doing it for fun and learning to play as an adult is the real essence of the athlete.
Running teaches us self-reflection. We discover who we are and occasionally, who we are not. Running teaches us humility. There is always someone better yet we learn to give our best. Some of us love the social aspect of the group practice run, some the solitude and reflection of a solo run. All of us love the feeling and sense of accomplishment that comes from the run, the calming effects it has on our life and the uplifting of our spirits on the completion of the run. Running is a lifelong commitment and running is about who we are.
As an athlete we are aware of our bodies and the effects training, nutrition and rest can have on our personal performance. One good look at yourself and you discover the largest muscle groups are those used in forward motion and running. Our highly engineered cardiovascular system is designed to accept intelligent combinations of stress and rest—we truly are born to run.
Running is pure and simple—a great quality in our complex and occasionally confused and conflicted world. Running is a simple start and finish. Very few rules or guidelines and no luck—just your fitness level matched against the challenge of the day.
Everyone is a winner; there are no losers. Runs and races have a DNF designate for those unable to finish the race. Somehow even our “did not finish—DNF” sounds positive and encourages the athlete to come back and perform better the next time.
Running keeps you in touch with nature. An early morning run with just you and a trail brings you right back to basics of life: the cool morning air, the scrunching sounds of your footsteps on the pathway, the rhythm of your breathing in tune with the bounding of your heart. You cruise over the rolling trail system with its cascade of green colors layered with the dew on the collection of leaves and scrubs. The fresh scent of the air combined with the mist of morning. At times like this thank your body for its good health, thank your self for your diligence to train and savor each and every run as a special celebration of life in its purest form.
Running allows us to play. As adults we need play time to foster creativity and relaxation. Running allows for us to play alone or play in a group. To enjoy play we need to work. An athlete knows their training may be work, but this work allows them to play.
Those who have been on sabbatical from training discover the human body’s great ability to adapt and regenerate strong performance through intelligent training. Intelligent training keeps us improving with combinations of stress and rest. For runners this hard-easy approach is orchestrated in hard-easy days and includes hard-easy weeks. Intelligent training also incorporates walk-run combinations on long run days. Intelligent training recognizes one’s personal limits and fitness level. We modify the training, keeping it progressive and challenging but not so wimpy we lack improvement. Adopt this “best effort today” attitude. Give yourself the motto of being slightly better each and every day—it will keep you eager to run!”