I’ve repeatedly have been asked by brand new runners about a training plan to get in to running for the first time. It seems that most are really just asking for some level of outside accountability or structure to their running, something that will get them out the door.
Working with brand new runners, or those just coming back from an injury, my focus is to help them make running a habit. Make it sustainable in their daily life, so it’s a part of living, rather than a stressful addition. In the beginning, running is all about consistency. It is much easier to get out for 30 minutes 4 times a week, if you’re already getting out for 15 minutes 4 times a week. A coach can help you set out the outlines of realistic and smart training….take rest days, don’t over do it in the beginning, get a good fitting pair of shoes, etc. And for some, building this consistency is absolutely doable on their own.
Running doesn’t need to involve training for anything either though. I’ve found myself in that time of year where there is no big race on the calendar until well into 2020, and I’m unsure whether or not to throw in a final race to wrap up 2019. So, I’m just running. I leave some time open each morning for running, wake up, drink some coffee and read, get a sense of my body’s energy for that day, then decide how long or what intensity to go out for. It’s been a rejuvenating past several weeks of running without any focus on a major upcoming race.
Here’s the little secret though….this is still training. I’ve found this type of running to be some of the most foundational pieces of becoming a strong runner. Listening to your body helps you to recover better. Small amounts of intensity, still some adding some short intervals and strides on days that feel right, helps build running economy. All of it put together makes running always enjoyable and building the base that will spring board my future race specific training.
I’ve found that taking huge amounts of time off from running doesn’t usually bode well when it’s time to gear up for a marathon or ultramarathon. But, taking time away from specific training leaves the mind and body rested and rejuvenated so when it’s time to go to the well, the energy and focus is available.
So, if you’re finding yourself a bit burned out by all the races on your plate this past year, or you’re just getting in to running for the first time, try just running for running sake for a couple months. It’ll build the consistency, habits, enjoyment, and physical foundations to help you tackle more focused training in the future.
~Get Out and Get After It. Happy Running Ya’ll~