I always see folks post about how they want to start running in the New Year but aren’t quite sure how to go about it. If 2019 is the year you want to start running, I’ve got some tips that can help you! Before we get into that, let’s talk about the benefits of running.
- According to a study done in 2017, “runners have a 25%-40% reduced risk of premature mortality and live approximately 3 years longer than non-runners.”
- Running, and other aerobic exercises, are mood boosters and can help with depression according to this study.
- In this study of 2,637 participants, both male and female, running was shown to actually improve their knees by keeping their BMI’s in check.
- It’s good for your bones.
- It can help your brain as you age.
Ok, so those are just some of the benefits. And I’ve linked to the studies themselves, versus just some Joe Schmo saying how much running has helped him. Though, as a Joe Schmo runner, I can attest to it helping me. Ha!
I have cyclical depression. Or seasonal. Or whatever term the therapists are using these days. I’ve had it since I was a pre-teen and while I strongly believe in therapy and medication if needed, I also believe that physical activity of any kind can help. Running is my go to as nothing else gives me quite the same mood boost both during and after.
The author, shown here, happy as a clam while running.
Anywho, if you are looking for any of the aforementioned benefits or you just want to see what you can do, here are the tips on how to get started running in 2019.
Start slow and short. If you can’t have a full-on conversation, then you are running too fast. And as with anything you have to uh, crawl before you can walk. Or in this case, run for a short period before you can run for a long period. Start with a half mile, then do that a few times, preferably within the same week. Then bump it up a bit. The general rule of thumb for building distance is no more than 10% overall increase in mileage per week.
Run with a friend! Accountability is HUGE in any type of exercise and I find that meeting someone for a run gets me out of the door much better than heading out solo. Bear in mind you want someone who will enjoy it with you and not dissuade you, into say, going for coffee instead. You need a buddy who’s into this just as much as you are. Then after you run, you can go grab that coffee.
It’s probably gonna hurt. Don’t get discouraged! At least at first, it’s not going to feel comfortable. Runners aren’t out there pounding the pavement thinking, “Gee this feels like being caressed with a feather.” Running is hard and even on the slow and short build up, it’s probably not going to feel like a hug. But! Stick with it and it will start to feel easier. Plus, again, so. many. benefits.
Have fun with it! Don’t be afraid to try various workouts. From fartleks, to track workouts, to learning warm up drills – there are countless ways to mix it up and maybe even a have a bit of fun! Even fartlek is fun to say! Say it. FARTLEK!
Set a goal. It doesn’t have to be a race. You can set the goal to run a mile without stopping. Or to just run three times per week for a month. The point of the goal is to keep you motivated – not make you feel bad! Make it something attainable and after you hit that one, you can bump it up.
Ok, so running ain’t for everyone. Gasp! How is this a tip? Well, quite frankly, if you just flat out hate it after giving it a few weeks, it just may not be your thing. For example, I don’t love cycling. For me, cycling is an activity stuck in the middle of swimming and running in the triathlon and I do it for that reason. But I just do not love it. And that’s totally fine! I am saying try it. And then if you decide you hate it – hit the pool or the bike or group fitness. Whatever works! We are not all meant to love running.
Well, low and behold, you find out that you love running! If this is the case, after you’ve given it a whirl, feel free to get all the gear. Fancy shoes (they just have to feel good!), a GPS watch, hell, even a coach! If this running stuff is your jam, then live it up and let it take you to see places and meet new people. Welcome to the community, Runner.
I know the year isn’t quite over yet, but I wanted to go over a few things I’ve learned as a coach in 2018. I feel like I’ve really hit my stride as an endurance sports coach this year, and while I definitely don’t know everything I feel confident that I can help others reach their goals. Here’s my list for five the things I’ve learned about coaching in 2018.
1.Be Flexible. As a coach of adult athletes, I have come to truly realize that life happens for all of us. (No matter what perfectly curated social media images say!) And unfortunately, life is hard. I aim to be flexible with the athletes I coach as I understand that working full time and getting in the training is tough – not impossible, but definitely challenging. I would love my athletes to complete their workouts every week, every day, but I know that sometimes it’s just not gonna happen. From sick kids to sick pets, to maniacal weather – there are more important things than getting a green box in Training Peaks.
2. Ya Can’t Force Motivation on Someone Else. I recently spoke at a company about run coaching as part of their health initiative. As part of my talk I asked what the number one reason for hiring a coach was. One of the first responses I got was motivation. And man, I wish that was the case! I can’t force someone to be motivated. I don’t believe that is my job. Motivation comes from within. As much as I want everyone I coach to succeed if the drive isn’t there internally, there’s not much I can do. My answer to that question, by the way, is accountability. And accountability is much different from motivation.
3. Every Coach Has Their Own Method, But You Can Still Learn From Them. I have been fortunate to work with a slew of outstanding coaches and while I don’t agree with every methodology or philosophy out there, I have learned a lot from other coaches. I love to work with different coaches and discuss training with them. I also enjoy seeing athletes coached by others succeed. Successful athletes only help raise the sport and community for everyone else. In addition to learning positive styles and training tips from other coaches, I’ve seen some stuff that I don’t want to do. It’s less than the good stuff I’ve seen, but I will acknowledge that sometimes bad examples are still examples to learn from.
4. Athletes Change Coaches and It’s A-Ok. In the adult world, breakups happen. Firings happen. And at the end of the day, an athlete needs to do what is best for them. I myself have switched coaches and mostly it boils down to what my needs as an athlete are at that particular time. I will never be angry with someone who wants to move to a new coach. In fact, if they aren’t progressing with me, I encourage it! I wholeheartedly believe that the athlete-coach relationship is a collaboration – not a dictatorship.
5. My Athletes Teach Me. Being able to coach a variety of abilities and people from a lot of different backgrounds is a real blessing! My athletes are always teaching me things. Coaching is just as much a growing process as it is a teaching one. If I ever say I know everything – please throat punch me. I feel like athletes make the coach and not the other way around.
I am looking forward to 2019 and I will have a New Year’s post for you. Plus, I’ve got another trip lined up for the Gulf Coast at the end of next month! Who else is running Big Beach?!
After much thought on my next marathon, I’ve decided to downgrade to the half marathon at Jacksonville in December. I had intended to run the full but in light of some new discoveries, my coach and I decided it would be best to push that next full into a different race for 2019. So, what’s the story?
Well, let’s look back at Chicago. And my training. I did all of the training – in the Florida heat and felt pretty tired through most of it. I felt like garbage in Chicago and after. And I still feel really wiped out after long runs. My coach suggested I have my blood work done to see if I am low on iron and/or ferritin. And, as it turns out, I am. And I’m not. Wait, what? Let me explain.
*First up, what’s ferritin? According to the internet, it’s an “intracellular protein that stores iron and releases it in a controlled fashion.” In reviewing my blood work, my ferritin was at 33. Now, for normal people, meaning non-runners, the levels are quantified as 12-300 for men and 12-150 for women, so this would mean I was good to go. Right? Eh….
The internet says that this number with regards to performance feels different for everyone and that the recommended numbers are probably different from those who are sedentary. Iron, in general, is needed by everyone but a surplus is good for runners as without it, we experience fatigue and that can cause a drop in performance. (Please understand I am not a doctor, this is just all internet research and working with my coach.)
Everyone loses iron in the same ways: through their feet from striking the ground while running, through sweat (ah, hello, Florida), and through the intestines (AKA pooping). But we women are especially lucky and also lose it through our monthly visitor. Apparently, female runners are more likely to be iron deficient because their dietary intake of iron tends to be poor. I mean, I like red meat now and again, but I am pretty terrible at leafy green vegetables. And to top it all off, training induces an additional loss of iron. Awesome.
I’ve read that ferritin levels in some studies for women suggest the minimum be raised to 40, and that elite runners try to get their ferritin levels up into 70. Some of this is trial and error and having blood work done regularly throughout training. Now that I know mine could use an increase, I will take a supplement and wait for the two to three months for it to raise my levels to see if I feel better. Unfortunately, since it is getting cooler out it may be tough to decide if I feel better due to the ferritin or if it’s just no longer 11 billion degrees. The true test will come next summer.
I’m not sure why this wouldn’t have been a problem for me before now, but I ain’t no spring chicken and we do know how things change as we age. I am not sold on this being a magic bullet and all of the sudden I start crushing races like I’m Mo Farrah, but I don’t think the iron supplement can hurt. I plan to take it with Vitamin C for better absorption and pay attention to any side effects I may encounter. I will keep you all posted on this as I start taking the supplement this week. Fingers crossed.
*Again, not a doctor. These are just my opinions and research on this matter. If you think you have low iron/ferritin, go get blood work done. See a doctor.
Iron Deficiency in Runners
Iron Level Upkeep For Runners
If you are confused and thought you were coming to Discombobulated Running – don’t be! You are in the right spot!
Before I get into all that I have to say hello to Bob and Kevin! Both are readers I got to meet IRL this weekend while volunteering and spectating at Ironman Florida! Heeeeeeey guys! (Bob, I promise not to post about how I’m sorry I haven’t posted. Ha!)
Ok, back to this here new blog page and coaching services.
I’ve been feeling a bit disconnected from Discombobulated Running for a while now. Not because I no longer love running and blogging, but because somewhere along the way these last NINE years, I’ve become, well, less discombobulated. I’ve grown as an athlete and as a coach. I have always maintained that my favorite thing about endurance sports is the finish line. And I’ve had that I Heart Finish Lines verbiage in my head for quite some time. I did print up and sell some shirts with the name a while ago, and it’s my coaching business name. It only made sense that I rebrand everything to that.
After several edits to the logo design, I was thrilled when we (the graphic designer) and I finally landed on the one you see now. I have several different color options I’ll work with moving forward, but the one I chose for the blog seemed the best for both men and women. This way, with my coaching clients and anyone else who wants to wear I Heart Finish Lines gear it’s a fairly neutral design. I truly love it and the direction I’m headed with all of this.
The direction is to continue growing my coaching business and keep blogging about all the things! It’s really what you came for, right? I’m not promising to blog weekly at this point, but I will continue to do my best to pop on here and opine about this sport that gives so many of us so much joy. And, I will be flying my I Heart Finish Lines flag at my races. And other people’s races. And probably to sleep in. Basically, I’ve got merch!
Speaking of merch, I have a gear store open from now until December 2. I don’t make a profit on this but I would like to hit the minimums and see all of you in a sweet I Heart Finish Lines tank or tee, while you cross those finish lines! (The “flowy” tank runs large, so size down.) Click HERE to shop.
As always, thank you all for reading. Can you believe I’ve had this space for NINE years? It’s crazy!