woot!* I accidentally ran a mile

(*click here for understanding)

I have a girlfriend who has out of politeness been forced to listen to my “everyone should take up running” evangelism. And she surprised and flattered me recently with the revelation that she actually tried it and found it to be palatable.

People who have never run laugh when I tell them running is the lazy person’s sport. It is, truly: you don’t have to GO anywhere, you just strap on your shoes and head out the door. You don’t need lots of expensive gear (although you can certainly spend great wads of money if you so desire; this is one tried and true way to avoid ever having to actually run), just decent shoes.

I promised my girlfriend I would post on my five rules of running, since of course she’s dying to hear my every word. Besides, blogging about running is nearly as fun as running.

1. Running is 90% mental.
Once you understand this one massive roadblock, the road belongs to you. But don’t underestimate the struggle. I have a sort of zen ritual I go through in order to keep myself from keeping myself from running. I pee (so my inner couch potato can’t whine that I should stop to answer nature’s call). And I don’t keep my inner whiner on a leash; instead I let her range all over the place and eventually she winds down. And I allow myself to follow the other four rules:

2. Run as slow as you can.
This is key for beginners, or people who are beginning again. If you run too fast, you tire out before you’ve gone a half a block, and you start to think, I can’t do this. See rule number one. Solution? Run as slow as you can. Take it easy. Speed can come later.

3. Oxygen is free. Use as much as you like.
Again, key for beginners. After your heart stops feeling like concrete under a jackhammer, you can work on breath control. For now, open your mouth and suck in all the free air you like. Try not to let all the twenty-something parents strolling with their toddlers make you feel like an idiot because you sound like a freight train. See rule number one.

4. Run tall.
This one comes from FloJo, in Running for Dummies. It’s good to remember because if you can quit hunching over like you’re about to vomit (even if you feel like you’re about to vomit) you can drag more precious, life-sustaining air into your lungs. Plus, if you’re running tall, you look as if you don’t mind that your face is red and mottled. It’s mental, people.

5. Walk whenever you want.
Set visual goals: run to the next mailbox, then walk to the corner. As you build stamina and strength, you’ll need to walk less. One day you’ll accidentally run an entire mile. Even after you get to where you can run a mile, you are (legally) allowed walk. Run a mile, walk a minute, run another mile.

That’s it! Well, there are other things, if you insist I go on. Like, make sure your shoes actually fit. I never knew I wore shoes too small for me until I took up running. Also, don’t wear cotton socks. Um, and get sunglasses with no metal on them (it heats up in the sun). Take off your ring(s) before your run if your hands tend to swell. Cross train. Play around with running on the internet. And hey, enjoy yourself, you runner, you.

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