Sunday, March 3, 2019

Find the optimal speed for your run

Although I have been running for many years now and have logged over 3500 miles, I do not consider myself a professional runner. For me, running is more for enjoyment than anything else. It makes me feel accomplished and is a sort of meditation that helps me find peace and calmness.
Nowadays, long distance running has entered into main stream society and people from all walks of life embrace it. Some people run to check items off of their bucket list, others to post on social sites, many for charity, a few are fitness fanatics, and several others just want to do it for fun. Whatever the reason, my friends and acquaintances often come to me for the quick recipe for self-motivation at times. Well, due to the various benefits I have experienced, I always encourage everybody to embrace the activity of running. I do my best to help them start but also try to convey to them in a subtle way that running is something they must devote themselves too and they have to find a way to get into this mentality- especially if they want to do a half or full marathon. It will require quite a bit of dedication, discipline and a solid routine if one wants to complete a run with a smiling face.

Besides the many topics which people generally talk about in running forums, there is one important factor which a novice or non-elite runner often misses – finding the ideal speed for your run. Most of the enthusiastic runners skip this point and focus more on logging distances during practice and combining walking/jogging/running with a running group. I am not saying that you won’t complete the race this way but the you may not be smiling at the finish line for the simple reason that you did not consolidate your body and your mindset in the best possible way. As a result, you often find runners limping with cramps or injuries at the end. Seldom will you find those runners coming back. Game over!
But not to worry! Here are some tips I have learned over my years of running-
  1.  Don’t over rely on running in a group because then your body and mind try to follow the pack. You won’t be able to discover your ideal speed easily because you are forcing your body and brain to follow somebody else.
  2. Running 3-5 miles frequently on your own will help you get to the optimal speed. Whether it takes weeks or few months depends entirely on your fitness level and past history with any other sport.
  3. At a high level, running either on a treadmill or outdoors should entirely be your choice.
  4. Running solo with music in your ears will allow you to establish a connection with your brain. In a month or two, you will know what your body is capable of and then you can make improvements.
  5. Don’t over stretch yourself just because you are following some Nike virtual coach.
  6. The key is to be disciplined to go out for a run on a regular basis so find ways to reward yourself and be motivated.
  7. The best way to finish a race is to run continuously at your optimum speed.
  8. Remember the turtle and the rabbit story. You need to be the turtle and keep going at your pace. And the key is to find “your” pace. 
Once you find your speed through experimenting with your body and brain, you can enjoy running. If you do it right consistently, there is also good chance that you will finally obtain your “runners high”- an amazing feeling of euphoria while running and then there will be no stopping you.

Happy Running!