Tuesday, September 23, 2014

My running strategy (as an out-of-shape runner)

Even though I have not been running and will go into this 10k Saturday with virtually no training, that doesn't mean I won't have a very strict, yet simple, strategy. In fact, I probably need one even more (without the training). So, here is my running strategy for Saturday: START SLOW, STAY SMOOTH, FINISH FUN.

I actually did come home from work last night and ran 3.1 miles on the treadmill (I know I said I wasn't going to train at all). It was barely more than a walk, but the important thing was that I kept it going. I am glad I did, because it not only convinced me that I can, in fact, finish this 10k on Saturday, but it reminded me that I do love and miss running. I just need to keep some things in mind in order for it to be an enjoyable experience. These are some things that popped back into my head while on the treadmill last night.

START SLOW: This is the key to everything. The biggest mistake I can make is to want to go out too fast. It is so tempting - especially with all the other runners around. In order for me to enjoy this event though, I need to go slow. One way to keep myself from going too fast is to breathe through my nose for as long as possible - hopefully for the entire 6.2 miles. I did the 5k last night without ever opening my mouth. I just need to run my race, and take it easy. Going slow helps me be able to run through the left knee pain (which will eventually go away), and not let my lungs start to burn. This will make all the difference in the world.

STAY SMOOTH: Once I start slow, I need to remember to stay that way. Keep my back arched, take small steps, pick my knees up, stay on the front part of my feet for as long as possible. The key for me to stay smooth actually revolves around the trunk of my body. If I can focus on my head and the axis of my body, keeping them as straight and steady as possible, then my arms and legs can move about more freely. I don't want to slouch or sway or bob up and down. Sometimes I try to visualize the trunk of my body is floating along like a sci-fi robot, and my arms and legs are just attachments to my body. I must keep them loose and free and not tighten them up, or it starts to become too much work. This is what allows me to hit a groove and really start to move (without trying) several miles into any run. I used to be at my best around miles 4-6 when I was running more. And finally...

FINISH FUN: Running really can be fun... for anyone. I am not afraid or embarrassed to walk if I have to Saturday, but I would much rather just keep a slow steady pace throughout and it will take less out of me physically. I have read where the human body is meant for long distances (not speed). The same person said that to find the best running form - watch how a 5-year-old runs. This actually has made running much more enjoyable for me. Slow, smooth, loose; short steps, back straight, lift the knees; and have fun. I also try to constantly remind myself to keep my face muscles relaxed. It's amazing how that affects the rest of the body. Smiling doesn't hurt, though. :) (yes, I said that).

So, that's my strategy. We'll see. I really have nothing to lose, and I'm not after a fast time or anything. I think I can finish in somewhere around 75-80 minutes. It should be nice and cool still, and I'm undecided about how many or few clothes I should wear. I can wait until Saturday to see. But I'm starting to look forward to running again.