Hello everybody! My name is Kathryn and I blog at From Dancing to Running. While Heather is in Orlando enjoying time at Universal Studios and Disney World and running the Tower of Terror 10 Miler, I’m honored that she’s given me another opportunity to share some thoughts on running with you.
Many of us have at some point come across one version or another of the “Ten Commandments of Running.” Now that we’re in the midst of the fall running season, I have found myself revisiting many of variations of this list and reminding myself of many of the commandments. I’ve now been running for six months, and am finding these commandments to be of utmost importance, especially now that I’m officially one month into my formal training plan for my first half marathon, the Disney World Half Marathon in January.
Below is my list of commandments that I’m currently reminding myself of and trying my best to adhere to:
1. Thou shall never compare one’s speed, distance, or abilities to that of another runner.
While we all may be runners, we all started at different points in time, we all have different physical limitations that we face, and we all live different lives. What’s most important is that you are out there running, regardless of how fast you may be or how far you can go.
2. Thou shall get enough sleep.
Statistics show that athletes need more sleep than non-athletes. Now that I’m more physically active than I was six months ago, I find myself more tired in the evenings than I used to be. Because I’m a teacher and have to get up at 4:45 every morning in order to be at school on time, I usually fall asleep between 8:30 and 9:30 every evening. Six months ago, I could easily push myself past 10 or 11 every night, and feel rested enough to face my students in the morning, but that’s no longer the case. Athletes exert more energy than non-athletes do; thus, they need more recovery time before they’re back up and at it the next day.
3. Thou shall listen to one’s body.
As runners, we’re always trying to push ourselves to be just a tad bit faster or to run just a bit more distance. This means that we’re putting extra stress on our bodies than the average American. If you’re starting to feel sick, or your body is telling you that it hurts, it’s okay to take a day or two of rest. Most training experts recommend at least one day of rest after any strenuous workout, which in a runner’s case is likely the long run or a race itself. If your body says it needs rest, then listen to it and take it.
4. Thou shall not neglect the importance of proper nutrition and hydration.
Proper nutrition and hydration are essential in order to have the necessary energy for running. This is not only important for staying healthy, but our bodies cannot perform at their highest level possible without being properly fueled.
5. Thou shall find a buddy to share their enthusiasm for running with.
There’s always strength in numbers. Whether your buddy is physical or virtual, finding at least one other person who you can share your passion for running with will help ensure that you maintain your motivation and passion to keep running. For me, I find my physical motivation in my husband. He’s been running for years longer than I have, so it’s natural that his endurance and speed are much greater than mine are. However, we often go to the gym or out on the trail at the same time, and just knowing that we’re out there “together” helps keep me going. On days that he wants an easy run, he’ll often run with me at my speed. We’ve run multiple races together, but opted for different course lengths. We’ve still both had to get up early for the same reason, and we both had to nourish our body the day before in order to prepare for the same event. Virtually, I have found the blogging community of runners to be invaluable, as well as those who I also follow on Twitter. It’s not only inspiring to read others’ stories, but social media provides us access to a network of other runners to communicate that physical limitations might otherwise prevent.
6. Thou shall keep their running interesting to them.
For most people, if something isn’t fun or enjoyable then they’re unlikely to follow through. Everybody finds different things to be fun. For me, varying where I run and the types of races that I run helps maintain my interest. Finding a running partner can also help keep running interesting. Race wise, not only are there the runDisney races, but many other fun race series have recently popped up, including the Electric Run and the Color Run. I also recently had a unique opportunity to run on the runway at Dulles International Airport. Find whatever it is that will help keep your running interest sparked so that you’re not tempted to steer away from running.
7. Thou shall be properly fit for running shoes.
Up until about a month ago, I was wearing basic Asics. I made my shoe selection based on what was on sale at DSW whenever I needed a pair of shoes. After my husband ran the Rock ‘n’ Roll Virginia Beach Half Marathon and discovered that one of his big toenails was completely purple (four weeks later it still is), we both decided it was time to take a trip to the local running store to be properly fit for shoes. During our fitting, we discovered that he was wearing a shoe that was too small, and that I have extremely high arches that weren’t being properly supported. Although my Asics continue to provide the support I need for walking and weight training, my new Mizunos provide much greater support and I find that I have less ankle pain when I run (I first sprained it when I was in fourth grade, and after multiple sprains its strength has deteriorated.)
8. Thou shall invest in proper running attire that is both breathable and fits properly.
Along with the importance of having properly fitting shoes, having properly fitting and breathable running clothes is essential. Heather shared in her Disneyland half race recap that part of what made her chafe was that her Dumbo costume included a cotton top. Cotton and running do not get along! And girls – just as it’s important to wear a properly sized bra during daily activities, a properly fitting sports bra is just as important during physical activities. I am quite blessed in this area, so cheap unsupportive sports bras aren’t going to cut it.
9. Thou shall not increase their distance by more than 10% each week.
Running is already physically demanding to begin with, but not gradually increasing distance and intensity will only put yourself at greater risk for injury for also at greater risk for dehydration and other health related issues.
10. Thou shall continue living the rest of their life outside of running.
This commandment is by far the hardest for me to obey. A month ago I started following a specific training plan for my upcoming half marathon, with my long runs taking place over the weekend. Only a month in, I’m realizing that adjustments have to be made, not only for when you’re sick, but in order to make sure you also have time to spend with loved ones. Being an athlete is about balancing all of life’s demands, not focusing all of our time and energy just on running. I may not always be able to complete all of my runs on the days that I planned to do them back in August when I plotted out the training plan, but flexibility and adjustment will help ensure that everything on both my life and training calendars can be included.
QOTD: What would you include on this list?