Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Past Deadline: Running Lessons Learned

Disclaimer: This column is about running, but is in no way, shape or form to be considered the be-all and end-all of advice on this topic. This is, I know, unusual, because my advice is generally taken as the gospel.


The Perth Kilt Run is edging closer. Gulp. I have a very complicated training program, which is basically this: run as much as you can before the big day so you don’t look like an idiot on July 2.

A friend of mine just completed a marathon, which I think is amazing because it requires so much commitment and training for months before the 42K race. I am not that person. I tend to avoid races, preferring to run in solitude (so fewer people can hear me gasping for breath). As admirable as it is, running a marathon is just not on my bucket list.

I am quite likely one of the world’s most amateurish runners. I have great shoes, but beyond that there isn’t much evidence of me having any sort of clue whatsoever about what I am doing.
I don’t seek professional advice. I stretch – but probably not correctly. I don’t know about the best fuels for pre- and post-run, although I did read something somewhere that said chocolate milk is good to drink after a run because it helps with recovery. It sounded good, so sometimes I do. After all, if it’s in print, it must be true. Like this here column (please see disclaimer above).

Other than the occasional advice about ornery muscles and working up to longer runs that I have received from the friend (and her husband) who got me started on this crazy running jag, I really am not knowledgeable on this subject. Sometimes I think I’m actually just a big faker.

I have, however, made a few poignant observations during this running journey of mine that I would like to share. Some of it is stark common sense that proves I am alive. As for the rest, well, remember that disclaimer (above).

Top 10 things I have learned about running:

1. If running at 7:30 p.m. fits best into your schedule, then make sure you finish eating supper at least one hour before or else be prepared to feel like death. It’s like the swimming rule.

2. Before a run, consider eating a smaller portion rather than enough for two hog-like people. Duh.

3. Avoid Chinese food before running. Seriously.

4. Although studies show a glass of red wine with supper can be good for you, it does not go super well with running. You probably shouldn’t drink and run. Hic.

5. Similarly, tanking up on coffee all day, when you know you might run that night, will suck all of the moisture out of your body. It will also make you feel jittery and death-ish.

6. Here’s a thought! On days you plan to run, drink more water in the afternoon and around suppertime! Hydration is good! Duh.

7. Once you have built up to a longer run (and for this runner that means anything more than 5K), try not to stop. It’s not that walking is for sissies; it’s that whole “a body in motion” thing. If you stop, even to sip water, it’s harder to go again.

8. Speaking of water, too much during a run can make you feel like death. The more this runner sips, the barfier she feels. Try to avoid the water unless you start to feel tingly. Tingly can mean thirsty.

9. Once you get to know how long it takes you, on average, to run a certain distance, try to avoid checking your watch. The “how much farther” mental game is a killer. Conjugate French verbs in your head instead. Or create plot lines for the Great Canadian Novel. Or try to remember Hamlet’s soliloquy. Whatever.

10. Don’t expect to lose weight by running. That was a funny joke when I started out. Hahaha.

Ah, the running journey. It is sometimes a painful one or merely uncomfortable (see Chinese food, above). It is also rewarding, though, and after two years of it I have almost decided that I even like it.

I’ll keep you posted on that.
Published June 9/11

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