Want to keep your love of running for the long term? Here are 4 rules for a lifetime of running from Coach Henness so you can keep doing what you love for years
Hey friends! I’m doing something different today and sharing a guest post with you today from Tiffany Henness who blogs and coaches over at ThoroughlyThriving.com. Tiffany has some great advice on how to keep your body ready to run for a lifetime.
Being able to stay active in the long haul and running for years to come has always been something I have wanted for myself…and for everyone! Fitness isn’t a one-time thing, it should be a lifetime achievement. Tiffany is sharing her tips for becoming a lifetime runner (tip #3 is a good one!).
Guest post by Coach Henness at ThoroughlyThriving.com
At mile 5 of my last race I overheard two runners cheering each other on. Pretty common occurrence, I thought, but then I looked over. The passing runner wore a fanny pack, had a slight hunch in her shoulders, and bright white hair. She was in her 70’s and passing folks much younger than her.
I’m not ashamed to admit I’ve ran alongside many white-haired runners at races. They remind me of my ultimate goal as a runner. More than getting faster or being slim, I want to enjoy running as long as I can. Therefore I have 4 rules for a lifetime of running.
RULE 1: Race less, run more.
I see it time and again; a new runner catches the finish line fever and starts registering for a race every month for the next 5 years. Often I notice these zealous converts skimping on their midweek mileage, shuffling to Sunday start lines under-trained and within a year they’re injured.
I get it. Races are sexy. Base mileage is not. And some years ago, I was that runner. However, repeating this cycle for just a few short years could prematurely end anyone’s running lifestyle for good. That scares me.
The race less, run more rule is about being a running iceberg, where race mileage is just a small percentage of the running I actually do. Races are exciting and they are what everyone sees, but “beneath the surface” there should be a large foundation of training or maintenance miles supporting it.
Once I reined in my race enthusiasm a bit, I was able to not only learn how to train properly for a race, but actually get better as a runner and more fit in general.
RULE 2: No one race is worth risking it all.
I hate having an unfinished project and not running a goal race I’ve been training for and am registered for is unthinkable. Or at least it used to be. I’ve had to cancel races, swallow my pride and my registration fee and be marked as a DNS (Did Not Start).
Why? Because sometimes your body is breaking down or sometimes the bulk of your training season is hijacked by life and sometimes…hopefully rarely… you really are risking run-stopping injury if you try to push through it and race anyway. Sometimes it’s just not worth it.
Pride, social pressure, financial commitment, and a number of other things will insist you go for it. I have to remind myself that no one race is worth being sidelined for a year or possibly forever. I know that sounds extreme but it happens, people. If it’s that risky, recover to race another day.
RULE 3: Embrace the mundane.
One of the hardest lessons to learn as a reformed couch potato was “embracing the pain” of running and exercise. Not actual “I hurt something” pain, but the mental pain of voluntarily being so uncomfortable and sore and tired, and yet finishing my workout anyway. Well, now that I can “embrace the pain” I also need to learn to embrace the mundane things about running and exercise. What are they?
Stretching. Core strengthening. Myofascial release. Cross training. Recovery or rehabilitation exercises. All these “lesser things” that aren’t worth taking up our precious running time could actually take away our precious running time if we ignore them too long. Not all runners think these activities are boring, but I struggle to fit them in sometimes.
Embracing these mundane, non-running activities to help my body stay run-ready is probably THE most important thing for being able to run into my golden years.
RULE 4: Be good to your body.
I didn’t care about what I ate or notice my stress levels and sleep issues much until I got into running. After all, I ran so that I could eat whatever I wanted, right?!
Well yes, some people can get away with trashing their body and still be able to run long and prosper. However, others can lead the healthiest of lifestyles and their body will still fail them. Reality is, most of us probably fall somewhere in the middle – with how we treat our bodies being directly related to how our bodies treat us.
Since I already know I’m not in the first group of demigods, I have to give my body it’s best chance at staying run-ready for life. That means I’ve got to be a little kinder to it, wear the supportive shoes, rest when I need it, eat a bit better, sleep a bit more and heck…even shell out some cash for a massage every once in awhile! That last part is pretty easy to do.
Keeping these four rules in mind helps me maintain perspective as I run, select races, and train. I still want to run all the races and sometimes I forget about the warm ups and recovery fuel, but overall I’m learning to be a much smarter runner.
I picture myself as a marathon grandma, encouraging others as I pass them with my white hair and hydration pack; and I imagine how much more fun I’ll have if I get to keep running that long.