Answers to some common questions from people who already run
I run the same 5k at lunch four times a week and I am not getting any faster?
Running the same distance at the same speed will help you to build a good fitness base but if you want to get faster you need to mix it up at bit. You need to do some faster workouts (hills or speed work) and some longer runs (Long Slow Distance) into your schedule.
How can running slower help me to get faster?
LSD (Long Slow Distance) runs help you to build endurance and teach your body how to work and use it’s resources efficiently on the run. Which will make you a better runner.
How can I measure the length of my run?
Not so many years ago the only way to figure out how far you had run was to go out and drive around your route in the car. It was not very efficient and it could be a real problem if you spent a lot of time running on trails! Although you can drive around in the car there are other options:
If you have a bike with an odometer you can ride around your run route (it’s good cross training too).
If you want a more high-tech answer www.gmap-pedometer.com is an on-line tool you can use to map and measure your runs. It will also tell you how many calories you burned on the run (keep in mind that this number is a very rough estimate).
If you do a lot of running and you want to spend money there are several GPS running watches on the market. These will tell you how far you ran and how fast you did it. Some models will also allow you to program in workouts, measure your heart rate, download your workouts on to your computer and perform highly complex calculations to compare changes in heart rate to changes in elevation and the weather! Timex, Polar and Garmin all make GPS watches for running. Do some research before you buy. Garmin units tend to be the first choice for most runners.
What about strength training?
Strength training can definitely help to make you a stronger, faster runner. Recent studies have shown that runners can get a lot of benefit from as little as two strength workouts a week. Remember to schedule strength training sessions a minimum of 48 hours apart and avoid doing a tough strength workout and a tough run back to back.
I keep getting injured.
Running is a high impact sport and runners do get injured from time to time but if you keep having the same issues you need to look at two things. (1) what you are doing before you get injured- are you running too far or too fast too soon, are you getting enough rest? and (2) are you in the right shoes- if your feet are hitting the ground at the wrong angle that problem will continue to cause issues all the way up through your legs to your back. (I had constant injury issues in high school now I have good custom orthodics and I can run three marathons a year with minimal injury issues).
Any other advice?
Keep a running log. It can be a complex on-line log or a notebook from the dollar store but a running log is an important part of your running plan. Keeping a log will help to motivate you to keep running (nothing screams better go for a run than a bunch of blank pages at the end of the week). It also helps you to see what works and what doesn’t. After a good race look back on what you did right and more importantly after a bad race or an injury go back and look at what you did wrong.
Don’t forget the sunscreen. Running outside for an hour is no different than sitting in the sun for an hour as far as your skin is concerned.