Lessons from a year of being on the run. (Pun not intended)
Ever since I was a child, I saw running as something only athletes could do. I only ran when I absolutely had to with my self-consciousness at the peak every time. I never ventured into that turf for a long time.
Then in June 2019, I signed up for a trek that was to happen in August, which left me with 2 months to prepare. walking up high altitudes for hours on end required me to build my stamina, and that’s when I incorporated running into my workout plan.
It’s been a solid year of runs, jogs, and speed walks, and I have learnt so much along the way. Sometimes I’d learn them after going through hell, some would come as a divine intervention at random times. Either way, I am glad I’ve learnt so much in my still-young & tender journey into running. Here’s a quick rundown to what I’ve learnt.
1. Gear Up
In the beginning, I had no runner’s gear, and I used to run while holding my phone in my right hand. Looking back, this was one of the silliest things I did. It took me so long before I decided to buy an accessory that could hold my phone for me.
When you run sticking your phone in your clothes or holding it in your hand, you are holding your potential back.
You will not end up pushing yourself to the limit you can, simply because you’re trying to make sure your phone doesn’t fall.
When I looked up for accessories, I had two options: An armband or a waistband.
I had my own set of apprehensions with each of these. The armband seemed more comfortable but also felt unsafe for a phone to hang onto, whereas the waistband looked like it would flap about a whole lot while running.
After much research and back and forth, I decided to go with a waistband. This was the most recommended one by runners, and it also gives you room to store more than just your phone; they make room for keys, cash, a wallet, and even a water bottle.
2. One app is enough
There is no shortage of apps centered around running. There’s something for everyone, even a zombie apocalypse-themed running app that is designed to make running enjoyable.
But how many apps can a runner handle?
At my most naïve stage, I had three different running apps on my phone. I even accidentally ended paying 3,000 rupees because I forgot to cancel my free trial.
If you’re new to running and need someone to point you in the right direction when it comes to a running app, there is only one answer: Nike Run Club.
Of course, it’s a Nike app, so there is automatic credibility. It directly links to your health app if you have iOS and maps your running path. At the end of your race, it displays your cadence, speed and calories burnt. There are many guided races, and ongoing competitions to choose from and it has close to no distractions.
3. Stop being so shy
I always loved to run, but I was very shy of running with people around me. I was extremely self-conscious because I thought I looked funny when I ran and was constantly judging myself.
All this made it very difficult for me to run in the outdoors, where I actually enjoyed myself.
I struggled with it for a long time. But because I loved to run, I found my ways around it. For a year or two, I resorted to waking up at 5 am to go for runs when there was no sign of humanity around.
When I grew some confidence, I started running on a treadmill around the bare minimum people around me. It helped to know they were all busy doing their own thing and not staring at me.
Soon, I started taking small steps towards outdoor runs. Speed walking, light jogging, and then I reached a point where I was comfortable enough to start running without a care in the world.
Bottom line is, Nobody is going to stand and watch you run, the same way you wouldn’t stop and judge them if they ran. People have their own lives, and they don’t care how you run. Just go out there and do what you have to do.
4. Do not run like you’re on fire
Initially, I thought running was all about speed. I’d jog lightly for a minute before running at my maximum potential, without paying attention to the way I was running, only to feel worn out and tired in 5 minutes flat. The rest of the time, it was just me dragging my feet and my ego to run longer.
Now, I know running is not all about speed. It’s an art. It’s very important to exercise before you start your run, even more important to build up to it. Warm ups are crucial before running, your muscles need a signal of what’s coming to be better prepared for impact.
I now speed walk for half a kilometer before I start my actual run.
I use a technique called a pyramid fartlek, which basically dictates how you build up to your run and slowly come down to the initial stage instead of starting on a high and ending on a low.
5. Rest Is Crucial
Back when I was a novice, I’d simply run back home after my workout and drink loads of water, or immediately stuff my face in front of the TV, because I’d be famished after a run.
Unhealthy, unhealthy, unhealthy.
It is as important, if not more, to rest after a workout like it is to build up to your run.
Running causes microscopic tears in the muscles, and your body takes on a lot of impact after a run, which makes a resting absolutely non-negotiable.
I walk slowly for a minute or two before heading back home, and lie down in savasana, or hop into a cold shower, as it heals the muscles soreness.
I also mix half a spoon of turmeric powder in a cup of warm milk and drink it before I go to bed on the days I run to help my muscles recuperate.
Of course, I’m just getting started and there’s a long way to go, but these are a few of the things I’ve learnt so far. If you are a runner, I’d love to hear any advice/ tips/ suggestions you have. Thanks in advance! I’d like to leave you with this quote:
“If you run, you are a runner. It doesn’t matter how fast or how far. It doesn’t matter if today is your first day or if you’ve been running for twenty years. There is no test to pass, no license to earn, no membership card to get. You just run.”