My background in running and how you’re already a “runner”:

By Joshua C. Anderson, PTA, CKTP, CCI, Cert. ASTYM

As a recreational athlete, where do you go for tips, tricks and the most up to date information?  Your answer is, you’re already here.  I will strive to provide you the most up to date information available on a wide range of topics.  In my first post, I am going to be focusing on a topic that is very popular this time of year, running.   A little background on me, I used to HATE running.  When I played baseball, home runs were my favorite because I didn’t have to run.  It wasn’t until I put on, what I called my “college fluff” and had gotten up to 221 pounds that I decided enough was enough and started running.  When I first started, I could literally only run around a city block, then I would have to walk.  At my peak of running and racing I was a 40+ mile a week runner, and during my “season” I would run between one and two races a month of varying distances.  After finding my love of running, that passion flowed into my profession as a Physical Therapist Assistant and I have taken dozens of hours of continuing education in running analysis and training.  As well as countless of hours reading running books, articles and studies.

When I first began running, I was under the impression that one day, I would be a “runner,” someone who could run like the wind and be one with the road and trail from the first step.  I thought, when my fitness got high enough running would be an effortless symphony of muscles, breathing and zen-like moments.  You’re probably wondering why I am telling you this, why not just list great tips to help you run?  I wanted to give insight into the fact that you’re not alone, running is daunting and takes time to develop a love of it.  When I was at my peak of 40+ miles a week I realized one universal truth in running, THE FIRST MILE SUCKS!  After the first mile is where you find the love.  My realization of this helped me become a better runner and allowed me to stick to my training on days I didn’t feel like running.  In the first mile all of your body systems are transitioning from conservation mode to exertion mode.  For some people it’ll only take a half of a mile, some it might take two but once you get through that initial fight you will find your stride and your step.  The point of this is to realize you’re not alone in your struggle thinking that.  The person who is behind you or the gal who passed you 3 times on your one lap of Green Lake all had the same experience. The first mile sucked.  As time the miles pass and your training progresses, your mental stamina will improve along with your physical stamina.

Now that we have established that the first mile will suck, where to do you go now.  Well, here are my 7 running tips to get you going and keep you going.

  1. SHOES: Finding the right shoe for you is first and foremost. The best way to accomplish this is by going to a running specialty store to be analyzed and fitted.  No one can tell you, “this is the shoe for you!”  However, as I like to tell my patients they can get you into the section of the stadium, but only you can find your seat.  What I mean by this is to know that the shoe specialist can only get you near your perfect fit, not find.
  2. TRAINING PLAN: Just going out running here and there will never get you to your goal.  It doesn’t matter if your goal is to lose weight, become faster or just become happier with the amazing person that is you.  Without a program and plan you’ll eventually fizzle out.  The best way to begin running is to carve out 3-4 days a week, with at least one day of rest in between and stick with that.  Consistency is the key to reaching your goals.
  3. HYDRATION: Pre-hydrate to run better, try for 16-20oz prior to any run under 8miles. In a study in the Journal of Athletic Training, the runners who started a 12K race dehydrated on an 80 degree day finished two and a half minutes slower compared to when they ran it fully hydrated. Try to get a sip or two of water every 15 minutes
  4. NUTRITION: Realize your body is a machine. Yes, your body is the greatest machine in the world.  Food is fuel.  Depending on your overall goal, fitness vs. weight loss, your requirements will be different.
  5. WARM UP/COOL DOWN: This is very important, and quite often the most overlooked aspect for runners.  You want to dynamically warm up prior to the run and lightly statically stretch after.  Some runners find foam rolling helpful for recovery.
  6. LISTEN TO YOUR BODY: Running is truly a mental chess match with your body. You have to get to know your body again and understand what discomfort is okay and what is not.  As you run more and more you’ll discover throughout any given run that you’ll have little tweaks and irritations.  However, by changing either your cadence or foot strike they should subside.  If they do not, take time to walk/rest and if need be stop for the day.  If rest doesn’t solve the problem, call us at Advance Physical Therapy to help fix it and get back out there!
  7. CROSS TRAIN: Most runners think to become a better runner they only need to keep running.  This is very untrue.  Cross training means anything other than running; Yoga, body weight workouts, gym time or stretching at home.  You don’t need a fancy gym for push-ups, planks and side planks, just a little floor space.

I hope this quick overview will help get you started on your path to becoming happier, healthier and finding your love of running. It doesn’t matter if you run a 5 minute mile, or a 20 minute mile, you are already a “runner.”  Each of these tips could be an article all unto themselves, let me know on our Facebook page what you’re most interested in and what topics you want to hear about.  I’ll bring them into my series of blogs, videos and informational tips!

“It is not the mountain we conquer, but ourselves” Sir Edmond Hillary.

Joshua C. Anderson, PTA, CKTP, CCI, Cert. ASTYM

Advance Physical Therapy and Sports Rehabilitation

Burien, Washington

April 4, 2016