Running is one of those things that has always been there for me, it’s helped me solve problems and never let me down as long as I planned well. I spend a lot of time thinking and running allows me to do that while feeling this euphoric state of freedom, maybe that’s what I’m hooked on. Whatever it is, it’s definitely an activity I want to continue on some level for the rest of my life.
Through my thirteen years running, I’ve committed all these sins on in some way, shape or form, and sharing the lessons I’ve taken with you. Some good life lessons can be found in some of these also, don’t learn the hard way like I did!
Obsessing with running, or anything for that matter. Don’t get so obsessed with running that that is all you are doing to achieve fitness. Sure to become a great runner you must obviously run a lot, but it’s essential to balance running with other dimensions of fitness such as strength and flexibility. Oh, and you need rest, DO NOT skip rest days. While it may sound counterintuitive, resting is where you build up from all the breaking down running does to you.
Adding too many miles, too soon (another life lesson in disguise). Let’s face it running, is a tough sport and gravity is working against you and all of the precious joints in your body especially in places like your ankles and knees. The human body is amazing and can adapt to running many miles, but you have to have patience and give it time to adjust.
Avoiding the weight room like the plague, because you might put on muscle weight. Strong muscles help you sustain all of that running and keep you healthy or injury free. Sure you might gain some lean mass, but that’s just going to make you a more powerful force as your feet glide more effortlessly against the pavement.
Trying to outrun a poor diet. Sure running burns a ton of calories, but it’s not magic. On average running burns around 80 calories give or take based on your individual body weight, pace, and incline. Running longer and harder also increases your appetite which makes it easy to take in more calories than your burn, especially if you load up on junk food. Aim for a balanced diet, with indulgences in moderation. I approach this with the 80/20 rule of eating balanced most of the time and treating myself from once in a while to avoid deprivation. A balanced diet will also give you the nutrients you need to stay healthy as a runner and enjoy the sport more.
Running should not hurt. Yes, running is hard, and sometimes your muscles will be sore during and after running. However, it’s critical that you make sure you are not ever running through anything that just plain hurts. Even if the pain stops after mile one or two, you need to get to the root of what is causing that pain. When we run our bodies release a lot of neurotransmitters that act as pain relievers so in a sense you are under the influence of these and may think things are ok but could be putting yourself at risk for an overuse injury. Stop, rest, do some cross training, or get it checked out before you keep chasing running goals.