So You Want to Run Away From Your Problems (A How To Guide)

Marathon 3

I have become, as some of you may already know, a running evangelist. I talk about it and do it with very obnoxious frequency. I’m sorry! But also, why don’t you come along?  It’s fun! I present to you some plans for various skills and backgrounds to run so fast life can’t catch up with you. (Caveat: Life can still totally catch up with you but it’s fun!)

Starting from the Couch

You’ve maybe heard of Couch 2 5k. The program is an accessible onramp for folks that have never been runners and might be running-curious. It’s a 9 week program (sort of)  where in the beginning, you can only run a little bit and by the end you could conceivably run a 5k race (which is about 3 miles or around a half hour of running).  I did C25K and it was my onramp to talking about running like your weird Reddit cousin talks about cryptocurrency. It’s fun!

This program has been around for a while and it’s key selling features are that you can do it in about 3 half hour increments a week and there are plenty of cool apps that you can put on your phone to help with timing. The official c25K works pretty well. It’s what I used on iPhone and I expect it’s also on Android. You can also find the details online. Here’s a good one.

The program uses a walk/run/walk cadence which is good for muscle training but also heart rate recovery. Your heart, it turns out, gets stronger by being cajoled into beating fast and then getting a chance to slow down and then cajoled into beating fast again. Your heart is very weird. Some pointers/tips on C25K:

  • You can and should definitely repeat exercise or weeks if you need. Some weeks scale up considerably.
  • Don’t be fixated on speed. Endurance > speed. Speed will follow naturally. You decide the definition of “running” when you alternate between walking and running. As long as it’s quicker than your walking pace you are kicking ass.
  • Don’t get too self-conscious or competitive. Everyone looks silly running (or, you know, living) sometimes.
  • Sprinting is actually kinda dumb. When you run longer distances  (that is longer than a middle school gym basketball court) you generally want to hold back upfront so you can save your strength for later on. Don’t just go as fast as you can as soon as you start running. You’ll maybe hurt yourself and wear  yourself out.
  • Make sure you have good shoes. Go to a proper running store and invest in them. I swear it matters. You don’t want to wreck yourself running bad shoes. In the Portland environs wherein I do my foot slapping, I recommend Foot Traffic.

Leveling Up Before you become a recreational runner you understand that there are weirdos out there that run in strange hordes sometimes. And after you start running,  you can join us. Obviously Covid-19 remains a giant problem and running events are not what they used to be. On the plus side, many are going virtual which means you can be part of a virtual strange horde. It’s fun! The most common distances for these strange hordes are: 5K, 10k, Half-Marathon (13.1 miles), and Marathon (26.2). After you get comfortable running for a half hour or more you might feel like setting the next challenge. I am going to focus on the 10k but I have done and continue to do half-marathons and marathons. Watch for a blog sequel! Anyway: 10k Time Scaling up from running 5 to 10k is pretty straight-forward. There are different methodologies but here’s the simplest way to do it: run 3 times a week, increase your longest distance a little bit each week. Here’s a sample 9 week plan I’m giving you as a place to start out.

  Week 1 Week 2 Week 3 Week 4 Week 5 Week 6 Week 7 Week 8  Week 9
Run 1 2 miles 2.5 miles 3 miles 3 miles 3 miles 3 miles 3 miles 3 miles 3 miles
Run 2 2 miles 2.5 miles 3 miles 3 miles 3 miles 3 miles 3 miles 3 miles 3 miles
Run 3 3 miles 3.5 miles 3 miles 3.5 miles 4 miles 4.5 miles 5 miles 5.5 miles 6 miles

Some tips on longer mileage:

  • Don’t forget to NOT run! There’s a reason this plan (and most running plans) only recommend 3-4 runs a week. That is to allow you rest your running muscles or, if you feel inclined to do so, do other exercise for cross-training.
  • Electrolytes are important. It will take you around an hour to do the longer runs on this plan and your body will lose a lot of nutrients with the sweat. Replenish with a good diet and maybe some supplements.
  • Good shoes.  FOR REAL.

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