Progression in running is all about consistency. That is what I always tell a curious beginner who wants to know how to run faster, or make it hurt less, or enjoy it more. Consistency isn’t necessarily a catch all answer for those problems, but it’s certainly one of the best places to start. Consistency doesn’t mean running every week, or every other day…it means running almost every day, and the necessary days off being perceived as a complementary element to actually running. It’s a physical action and a frame of mind. I don’t mean to convey it as a struggle or push anyone towards a burn out mentality, but even if you just run for recreation or health or “just cause”, doing it consistently ultimately reaps the greatest rewards.
Easier said than done however.
When I was heavily into riding bikes people always asked me how I rode so much, but my riding wasn’t about making a concerted effort, it was simply a part of my daily routines. I rode to work, to get groceries, to hang out, etc. It wasn’t necessarily something I DID, like going to the gym (or running), it was just part of my life. Running, on the other hand, doesn’t really work that way. If I ran to work I’d be a sweaty mess. If I ran to get groceries, I’d get shin splints from the extra weight. If I ran to hang out….I probably wouldnt’ be much fun when I got there. So it’s a little different, but it’s still helpful to look at a strenuous activity such as running as an integrated part of your daily life. Maybe it’s just something you do right after work to relieve stress. Maybe it’s something you do every morning to wake up. Ultimately, it’s beneficial to establish it in the same way some of us do with caffiene. It is a necessity. Without it, we don’t function how we would like to. We are sluggish (well, that goes both ways), we are ornery, we are generally not that motivated. Running becomes an activity that if we don’t do, we sort of stumble through the day. This is how we develop the necessary consistency to improve our running. Sure, by sheer determination and force of will, one can drive themselves to run even when it gets in the way of so many other things they do, but it’s probably not very fun, and conversely, if running IS one of those things you do, it can only be pleasurable.
Still, the world is against us. The structure of wage labor demands passive worker bees, consuming most of their day toiling for others, then inserting themselves into the highly aggravating mass of humanity that is the long slow commute home. By the time all that is over, the chair in front of the dumb box (or computer) looks mighty nice. It can be just as much a mental effort of a 10 mile run to actually get out the door to do it. Believe me, I understand.
On the run today, one of the guys was talking about how some people proudly exclaim to him that they workout 3 times a week, for about 30 minutes. Granted, comparatively this IS a good amount of activity when most people are consumed by their daily lives (some healthy, some not) and get not much of any activity. However, seeing as how the other 23 1/2 hours of the day can be spent in relative passivity, I’m not necessarily convinced the benefits are all that substantial. Quality of life is highly dependent upon the use of our physical bodies…this should be very “duh”. This should also be strived for in some way every day.
On a personal note in relation to this subject, this Friday I’ll be leaving to drive to North Carolina to see my son. The consistency of my running will be put in jeopardy without even a twinge of regret on my part, but this is partly due to my active lifestyle and knowing that my days with him won’t be in front of a TV. We’ll probably be hiking, swimming, and doing all sorts of other things….outdoors things for sure. Still, I don’t plan on abandoning my running for 4 days. Sure, I might start my runs at 8 at night, but I’ll do what it takes to get them in. I’m too close to the “official” marathon training schedule to slide backwards in my weekly mileage (did enough of that this week already).
Consistency is the key, for beginners and for elites. How you choose to develop your consistency might make all the difference in how you progress. Good luck.
13 – 14 miles total – 3 mile warmup / 6 mile “Predator” run – Starting at 5:40 a mile, knocking 5 to 10 seconds off each consecutive mile / 4 or 5 mile cooldown
Diet (weird day)
Breakfast – Oatmeal (w/ peanut butter, brown sugar, almonds), coffee
Lunch – Peanut butter and jelly sandwich
Post lunch – Bowl of Fruit Rings (organic, non-sugary version of fruit loops – hey, i had a craving) w/ soymilk, a bit of bean soup w/ tofu and sour cream
Dinner – Bean soup w/ tofu and tofutti sour cream
Snacks – water, coffee, banana, apple, vegan brownie