There are a handful of topics that come up time and again among my clients. One is that they run much too fast and either can’t complete a workout, or end up feeling like garbage because they pushed themselves too hard. Another is nutrition – what’s okay to eat, what’s better to avoid. And a third is injury. There are a few more themes that come up throughout a training cycle, but these three are among the most common concerns that almost every single client of mine has either brought to my attention or has experienced in some way.
Since today is the Running Coaches’ Corner linkup, I thought I’d tackle some of these topics. (Don’t forget to link your running or racing related posts!)
Everything in Moderation: Common Concerns from Runners
Am I Running Fast Enough?
First, let’s get into the “going out too fast” faux pas. This is typically a newer runner handicap, though I’ve seen veteran runners fall into the “too fast” trap as well. Look, unless you’ve got years of running experience under your belt, chances are you’re either running too fast yourself or you ran too fast when you were starting out. It’s a hard phenomenon to avoid, honestly, because let’s face it – running fast is fun! You didn’t jog or run slow when you were a kid, so chances are your memory of running and fun are correlated with sprinting around the playground with friends.
When you hire a coach, however, you’re stepping up your game. You’re ready for some guidance. Maybe you have a huge goal on the horizon (first marathon, anyone?). Or perhaps you’re looking for a half marathon PR. Regardless of your reasoning for hiring a coach, it’s important to follow the prescribed workouts provided by your coach. Odds are that most of your workouts will be at an easy pace – not an all-out sprint. Hold back your excitement there, Speedy. Don’t get ahead of yourself and run a 10-minute per mile workout at an 8:30 pace just because you can. Every workout has a goal, and an easy run is not meant to be run fast.
I used to run almost every run fast. Every day I would challenge myself to finish just 30 seconds faster than the day before. While I wasn’t racing nor did I have any goals in mind except to see how fast I could run my 3-mile route without destroying myself, training this way was not beneficial. I was continually taxing my system without ample recovery. That was several years ago. Now I know better and almost all of my runs are slow, enjoyable slogs where I get to chill, observe nature, and chat with fellow runners if I so wish. And now I can train for specific races and see specific results.
What Should I Eat?
Next up is nutrition. This is an extremely common concern and topic among my athletes. It seems there’s a lot of misinformation out there about what to eat and what to avoid. And honestly, no shit, right? I consider myself a fairly educated consumer and I still have problems discerning the latest trend or label. It’s no surprise that newer athletes and newer healthy eaters are overwhelmed or flat out don’t know where to start! I’m not a registered dietician but I do have some schooling in sports nutrition. It’s a slippery slope, however, telling someone exactly what to eat and when because every body is different. Dietary needs are drastically different from one person to the next. So what I say to my clients is the same thing my dad has been telling me since I was a little kid: everything in moderation.
You can’t sit down and eat a dozen donuts and expect to be healthy. Just like you can’t only eat kale all the time and expect to receive all your nutrients. There’s a delicate balance with food and fitness. Take some time to educate yourself and you’ll find there’s a lot you don’t know about food – where it comes from, portion sizes, what’s good/bad for your body (which is different from what’s good and bad for mine, for instance), etc.
If you take away nothing from this post except for one thing? Everything in moderation.
I Wonder if That’s Supposed to Hurt Like That…
Last, but certainly not least, is injury and injury prevention. If something hurts, please stop. If you feel pain at mile 2, don’t push yourself just because you have 5 miles on your schedule. Just stop. Assess the situation. If you can run again without pain, by all means, press on. But if you continue and it still hurts? Just. Stop. I cannot reiterate this enough. No amount of pain is good, no matter how new or experienced you are with the sport of running. I’ve done countless posts on injuries – take a minute to read them if you’d like – and I’m no stranger to running through pain. In fact, I did it last year several times and it was stupid. I will never recommend to anyone to continue running through pain.
If you’re in pain, please mention it to your coach. She will be able to help you assess the situation and discuss next steps. Your pain could be something easily fixable or something that needs medical attention. But if you ignore the pain and continue your workouts, you could cause lasting damage to joints, tissues, and bones. Ain’t nobody got time for that!
What’s the moral of the story here? Everything in moderation — including speed, food, and pain. Avoid the too fast, too much, and too ouch pitfalls and you’ll avoid the common concerns among runners.
TALK TO ME!
Were you a speedster when you first started running?
Have you ever run through injury only to regret it later?