Running For Your Life

Let’s face it, we are temporary passengers in our bodies.  Sure, in the day-to-day, things feel permanent, but who are we kidding? We get one shot at this, so, many of us become dedicated to taking care of ourselves…to keep this temporary thing called “life” going.  We eat right, workout, attempt some semblance of adequate sleep. But, in the end, we will all die. The Reaper is undefeated, right? Ok, enough depressing chatter.

Where was I?

Yes, running over a lifetime

For those of us who run, we often set goals: a 5k PR, a marathon in every state, 1,000 miles in a year, etc; however, how many of us actually set a goal of “Running over our lifetimes?”  My guess is, overtly, not many of us.  Sure, we love running and want to keep going, but how many of us think about running until we die?

For the most part, we focus on the next race.  This is normal.  We sign up, follow a plan, and if all goes well, get to the starting line.  However, sometimes, we don’t make it to the starting line.  Sometimes, we get injured.

Our first thought?

“Oh my goodness, what about my race???”

We see the doctor, and the doctor recommends the one word runners hate: “rest.”  We are bummed, devastated.

But, just as life is temporary, so are injuries.  There will always be another race, there is not another body for us.  Once we accept being sidelined, we do what we can to come back.  We try to renew and extend our running lives.

…and our running lives are unpredictable.  Some of us never get injured.  Some of us can go years without injury, while others can have several injuries in one year. So, to reduce injuries, here are a few of my tips for running over a lifetime…

1) Ease into things – Do not overdo it in the beginning.  Do not be a victim of “Too Much Too Soon Syndrome.” Sooner or later, you’ll have a “Breakthrough run” where you will feel like a runner.  It will come to you…don’t chase it.  Back off your mileage every third or fourth week.

2) Listen to your body – If you’re in Week 8 of a twelve week training plan, and your shin starts to bother you, take an extra rest day. This rest day might be just what you need to make it to the starting line.  Why push it, and have that shin pain turn into a stress fracture?

3) Race, but don’t race too much – I recommend one race per month (at most), and vary the distance while you’re at it.  Furthermore, as tempting as it may be to become a “marathon maniac,” keep the marathons to one or two per year.

4) Vary your speed – Don’t always run hard.  Really, one harder workout per week is plenty.  Run with a friend when you can.  Better yet, run a race with a friend who might run a different pace than you. He or she will appreciate it, and it will give you a sense of purpose…good karma too!

and most important:

5) Have fun.  When running starts to feel like work, back off. Do anything but run.  Sooner or later, you’ll get the itch to run again.  If you ever want to reconnect with running, attend a race as a spectator.  If you get a fire in your belly, maybe it’s time to lace up the sneakers again.  If not, take more time off.

In the second half of 2014, I’ve backed off my mileage for several reasons, and I’ll spare you these reasons; however, I know I’ll keep running…hopefully, over a lifetime…and if I die while running, so be it. What a way to go out.

In the meantime, I’ll try to outrun the Reaper as long as possible.

“Kinda bent, but we ain’t breakin’ 
in the long run 
Ooh, I want to tell you, it’s a long run…”

– The Long Run by The Eagles

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