So when my boyfriend and I were out doing our 10 miler in prep for the Brooklyn half about a month ago, he realized he’s only really been running for regularly for about a 18 months and now he’s gearing up for his third half marathon! In those 18 months I’ve given him a TON of unsolicited advice and apparently, some of it was helpful because he said that we should write some posts on some of the things we wish we’d known when we started running.
The first thing that came to my mind was: warm up!
Some people, like me, warm up just by starting their run out slow and building as their body warms up, and some people have other routines like dynamic stretching. For me, it takes somewhere between a mile and three miles before my body is warmed up depending on when my run is. The point is, you can’t just expect to dash out the door at your max speed If your max speed is already slow, the warm up may feel frustrating, but if you hold back at first, your legs will be in better shape for the rest of the run.
When Ryan and I went out for our first run together, he hadn’t run at all for about a year and he told me he’d probably poop out before we hit two miles because in the past his legs always hurt or were tired right about two. We set out in Prospect Park doing a 4/1 run/walk and every time we’d run for the first mile I’d say “slow down!!!” I told him that going out at his max was stupid (I may have actually said stupid because I’m not very nice) and that he needed to be patient and let his legs warm up. At that time, he didn’t have a gps watch, so I was the only one who knew how far or fast we were going. When we got half way around the park (which is about 3.3 miles around) he said he felt good, so we kept going and he picked up the pace a little. By the time we got back around the park he felt a little tired but his legs didn’t hurt and weren’t worn out.
It’s still hard when I’m at the beginning of my run to make myself slow down and let my body warm up, but my legs are usually sluggish for those first couple miles anyway and the energy I save not pushing through the sluggishness at the beginning I can use later. I’m sure there are benefits to warming up related to avoiding injury, but I’m not a doctor or a coach so I can’t talk about those. I can just say, I learned (and am still learning) that letting my self warm up was a key for me to having better runs.