10 Rules of Running for New Runners
May 20, 2008

For such a simple, natural form of exercise, how to go about training can be a real mystery for people. At times it has been a real mystery of the most prominent athletes, experts and coaches. I will give you some general guidelines that I have learned (some times the hard way) in all my years running.

1)THE RULE OF SPECIFICITY: To run better you need to focus more time on running. This is not to say that you shouldn’t engages in other forms of exercises such as yoga, weight training, biking, swimming, etc… All these activities have benefits and sometimes even benefit running, but if you want to improve your running, you need to spend the largest percentage of your exercise effort running.

2)THE 30 MINUTE RULE: 30 minutes gives you the most benefits for the least amount of time. If you have a very busy schedule, shoot for 30 minutes a day for a least 5 days a week.

3)RUN FAST TO RUN FAST: In order for the body to get used to running at a faster pace, you need to introduce some faster training into your schedule. These typically come in the form of shorter intervals at race pace (sometimes a little faster or slower depending on the time of year).

4) WARM UP AND COOL DOWN PROPERLY: All athletes can benefit from a pre-competition warm up. This is typically some light running, drills and strides. More experienced athletes can even do one or two hard intervals about 20minutes before race start. Cooling down is also essential to recovering properly. Spending a couple of minutes of light run and even some easy strides helps with the recovery process.

5) EAT WELL, EAT OFTEN: Eating a small, health meal every 3-4 hours will help keep your blood sugar stable and prevents crashing during a workout. If you have a hard workout, you might want to eat an easily digestible snack 1-2 hours before the workout. White rice is particularly easy on the stomach. Within 30 minutes of completing a hard effort, consume simple carbs with lean protein (in a 4:1 ratio) to help facilitate recovery.

6) SET A GOAL: Athletes typically have the most success when setting short term and long term goals. Work with a coach to help determine what is feasible for a competition an then work backwards to complete that goal. This will help keep you focused on the days when it’s toughest to get out the door to train.

7) INCORPORATE INJURY PREVENTION:Try this–stand on one foot and see how long you can balance…now close your eyes and see how long you can balance. If you can’t hold for 10 seconds, you could very well need to do work on all the little muscles that are involved in stabilizing the legs and body when you run. In a study by the Santa Monica Orthopaedic and Sports Research Foundation, subjects who were given a standard routine of warm ups, strenghtening and balancing exercises had a 74% rate of injury reduction.* 8) RECOVERY: Going hard every day not only has a negative impact on performance, it can also lead to injury and illness. Take an easy day after a hard effort and if you find that you are over fatigued day after day, consider taking a day completely off or several easy days in a row. Consider treating your body to massage therapy with a reputable sports massage therapist. Jump into an ice tube…that’s right! 7-10 minutes at 55 degrees is optimal to facilitate recovery.

9) YOU MAY NOT BE A DISTANCE RUNNER: Each person has a slightly different composition of muscle fiber: slow twitch, fast twitch (two types). People with mostly fast twitch are the cheetahs…they can typically maintain a sprint for up to 400m but have difficulty in longer events, even when well trained. Slow twitch people can’t go as fast, but are very efficient at going for long periods of time. Most of us are somewhere in between these two extremes. If you are more on the fast twitch side of the line, you might want to consider trying some track races like the middle distance or sprints (up to the mile).

10) ENJOY IT: There is some degree of physical discomfort involved in running. Don’t let this discourage you. Ultimately, it’s fun to work hard, to enjoy the comradeship of running partners and to achieve a goal.

*As reported in the NY Times, “Hurt Girls, what sports are doing to young women is not pretty” (May 11,2008)

For More Information Contact Jennifer Toomey