In January 2005, I signed up for the LA Marathon. Two months later, I completed the LA Marathon. I am not a runner by any means. At the time, my run training primarily consisted of sprinting up and down the basketball court 2-3 times a week for 40 minute games.
My naivety thought it a good idea to run 26.2 miles with only four weeks of training. The accomplishment of finishing the run and receiving my first medal did not outweigh the weeks of recovery that I endured afterwards: unimaginable muscle pain in every part of my body in every movement I made, blisters on the bottom of my feet that burned with every step I took and poor pinky toes bruised and battered from the repetitive pounding over the nearly 5 hours of running I lasted through.
In the ten plus years since I ran my first marathon, I have successfully completed a number of other endurance events, with adequate training. During this time, I have been relatively pain- and injury-free with the exception of an Achilles injury from overtraining on my bike.
Fit First, Run Later?
A few weeks ago, I attended a seminar on the Science of Running Medicine. One comment made during that weekend really stood out to me:
You have to be fit to run, you should not run to get fit.
I mulled over that statement for a while, thinking back to my first running experience. When I first began to run, I had little knowledge of anatomy, physiology or biomechanics. Today, I cringe when I hear people jumping into intense activities without building a foundation first.
However, not being fit should not be a reason to avoid starting a running program. There are plenty of resources and tools on the internet to start you on your way to endurance heaven, but it truly takes time to work up to 26.2 miles.
3 Tips to Get Your Run Game Started For The New Year
- Begin with a walking program if you’re a first-time runner and haven’t been active for a while. It is best to build up your mileage slowly before committing to a run and potentially injuring yourself in the process.
- Progress slowly from walk to walk/jog after you have adequately spent time building a walking base at a brisk pace.
- When ready, switch to longer jog times and alternate with shorter walk breaks.
Commit to the Process
Training for your run game is a process, not a race. By working on your foundation, you can build a better base to help you reach future goals, relatively pain and injury-free.