Saturday, July 11, 2015

The art of running slightly buzzed

Nope, this is not another article on achieving the "runner's high." The other day I had a newcomer to running ask me what to do to avoid getting so out of breath. So this is about building endurance for someone just getting into running (or how to avoid getting so out of breath). Often people will decide they want to run a 5k or something, and they think it's just a matter of going out and 'taking off.' I want to suggest that there is a better way. It takes a bit more time, but it will be much more pleasant and the end result will be worth it.

Developing endurance as a runner is similar to building up a tolerance to drinking alcohol.

We've probably all witnessed people who either don't normally drink, or have just started drinking, imbibe just a little too much. You know, you suck down that first drink and it feels pretty good. Then you have another, and another, and... before long that good feeling has turned against you and you think you're going to die! That's because you haven't built up a tolerance to alcohol. It takes time and experience to be able to drink a few beers (or whatever) and not be three sheets to the wind. It's no different with running.

One of the hardest things for new runners is learning to PACE THEMSELVES. 

You need to start out slow so you can build up your lungs and develop your muscles as a runner. Sure, you can take off as fast as you can, but you'll pay for it later. Building up endurance takes time, but eventually it will make you a faster and better runner.

Personally, I almost always begin a run by walking a short distance. Once I start jogging I try to breathe through my nose for as long as I can. If I get out of breath right away, it's very difficult to get it back without stopping. You will be amazed, though, that if you keep a slow and steady pace you will one day be able to run faster and further and not breathe any harder!

Right now I jog at a pace of about 10-11 minute miles (and I run like an old man). By this fall I will very likely be averaging around 8-minute miles, but my breathing will be no harder than it is now. That's what training does for you - it helps you build the proper endurance and muscle to avoid undue stress and strain on your body.

So, that's my suggestion for beginning runners. Just like you'd like to keep that "isn't everything great" buzz from one drink... starting slow and staying steady can keep you feeling good and strong as a runner too.

Additional resources for beginning runners: