Each runner is unique and develops their own habits and rituals. I believe that this is what makes running such a great personal experience. I don’t adhere perfectly to all of the running wisdom out there, including my own advice at times, but I try to do the important things. From pre-run preparation to handling a difficult run, I hope this blog will guide you through my running process.
I’m always planning which days I will run in advance, conceptualizing things week by week. I decide which days to run based on my free time, when I play other sports, and my running goals. My go-to run is a 10km loop around my neighbourhood. Occasionally, I mix it up by going in different directions and seeing how far I can explore before needing to loop back. Regardless of how I change it up, my runs always include a challenging hill or two. Hill training is important, so incorporating them regularly helps me improve my overall ability to run through changes in elevation.
When exploring, I often consult sites like mapmyrun.com. These sites let me quickly scan where I plan to run relative to my neighbourhood, checking km markers and elevation along the way. I know my distance, in this case 10km, so I start from my home and create a route that feels interesting to me. I try to include a mix of scenery, as well as changes in elevation that will challenge me.
After memorizing my route, I begin getting out my gear. My bare minimums are my running shoes, socks, shorts, shirt, armband, phone and headphones, and keys. On hot days, I bring my headband and water. On cold days, I add extra layers and gloves.
Once I’m appropriately dressed, I put my music on and start getting into the mood. I visualize my route, preparing mentally for new or potentially challenging areas of my run.
As I make my way to my starting point, I do some dynamic stretching to warm up. I usually butt kick and high knees as I walk to my starting point. With a few lunges, I’m usually warmed up and ready to go. I hit record on my mobile App (I use Strava), and begin my run.
I set my pace based on how I feel. Some days I feel like I’m flying, and others I feel like my feet are made of concrete. When starting off, I remind myself not to push too hard, too early. If possible, I want to finish without any breaks. Strava provides preset verbal updates regarding my speed and distance. This helps me gauge how my actual pace compares to my perceived pace. Try to take things in stride, even professional runners have bad days. When I get down on myself, I remind myself that I am running for me.
If I am really struggling during a run, I take a walking break and try to troubleshoot the problem. Is it nutritional, temperature-related, or maybe psychological? Things like overtraining or life’s stresses can diminish your motivation to run. Taking a brief break can help you regroup before finishing strong. Running can provide a cathartic way to process emotions and work through things that have been on your mind. When the problems suspected to be stress-related, I usually try to work through it while running, as my own form of therapy. During walking breaks, I tell myself that once I pass a landmark ahead, I will start running again. If it’s more to do with overtraining or that my body needs a break, it may be more beneficial to cut a run short and recharge for the next session.
When approaching the last hundred meters of a run, I try to increase my speed and finish strong. Some days I have enough left in the tank to sprint, whereas other days the best I can do is to maintain my pace until the end. After finishing, I usually walk to cool off and get my breathing back to normal. Once I return home, I go right into stretching and foam rolling to take care of any soreness I may have. Once my body has returned to a resting state and my muscles feel relaxed, I make myself a smoothie and enjoy a delicious reward for a job well done.