Natalie Garro, 129 TESS
If you’re at all like me circa 2011, you hate running.
(If you’re not like 2011 me, excellent, too!)
2011 Natalie had a history of chronic bronchitis and respiratory irritation triggered by any sort of cardiovascular movements. 2011 Natalie would have laughed at anyone who suggested she start running. 2011 Natalie was way into her yoga practice, and that was all the cardio she needed.
2011 Natalie despised running mostly because it felt like someone was vacuuming her lungs, and also because it sounded boring.
So what changed? Flash forward to 2018 Natalie, who has just realized she’s really been running for 7 years and now feels incredibly old.
Actually, wait – flash back to 2011 Natalie – who realized she no longer had trouble breathing during her yoga practice in yoga class one day and decided to give this running thing a shot.
For me, this is where it all began. Literally, a vague curiosity about whether my body was up to the task, that very first run through the hills of Boulder, Colorado, and a new hobby that never went away.
Maybe that’s where you’re at right now. I assume if you’re reading this, you’re somewhere in the realm of considering giving it a shot. And that’s enough!
This article is intended as a simple guide to help you find the motivation to lace up those running shoes, introduce you to some pacing, breathing, and physical care techniques, and I’ll even touch on some tips for clean eating while you run!
(All that aside, I’m a firm believer in new hobbies. It’s scientifically proven by science that new hobbies reverse the aging process of the brain by creating new connections between neurons or something sciency like that. Fun fact: even something as simple as alternating back and forth between hands each time you brush your teeth will help foster the connections between neurons! But, anyway, if this is your new hobby, kudos!)
So you’re sort of considering maybe taking up running… NOW WHAT?!
I. Where to Start
→ At the beginning!
Running App (to track pace and distance)
Approaching any new hobby can be intimidating. Running is no different. When you decide to start running, keep your physical preferences and limitations in mind, especially in the Thai climate. I personally don’t carry water with me when I run, but bring a bottle if you’re worried about dehydration or the heat!
I also like to listen to music when I run (and I have to admit, it’s because the music distracts me from the sound of my heartbeat and breathing). Whatever your preference, this is up to you!
I do recommend downloading a running app. I use Runtastic, available on the Apple App Store. It’s free, and it keeps track of not only my distance, time, and pace, but my elevation gain and loss, the weather for each run, and my split times (comparable side-by-side, so I know which mile was the fastest/ slowest/ etc.). If none of this is making sense right now, that’s okay. It’s not important yet.
II. Motivation Hacks
→ So you’ve officially made up your mind to take up running!
But not today. Tomorrow for sure. But it rained… so tomorrow, again! But you deserve a break. Fine, next Monday!
I’ve had this conversation in my head a lot. I promise, once you’ve made it through the first week of regular runs, the motivation part gets easier!
To help you get into the routine, pick a time of day you’re going to run. When I first came to site, I ran in the evenings, in the hour before it got dark. Once school started, I was too tired to run after school, so I switched to the mornings, and I ran or did yoga most mornings before school. Picking a designated “runtime” prepares your brain and body for the exercise.
If you choose to run in the morning, and you’re having trouble dragging yourself out of bed, drink a whole water bottle before bedtime. This way you’ll be extra hydrated for your run, and you’ll have to pee so bad when you wake up, you HAVE to get out of bed. Seriously, this works.
My last bit of advice: find an accountabili-buddy! Coordinate a training schedule with a friend or a group of friends. Check in at the same time every day. If you want, you can set up some sort of reward/ demerit system to help you motivate each other. (Runtastic can also be used between friends, so you can share your info with one another, challenge each other, etc!)
III. The Actual Running Part
→ TAKE IT EASY. If you’re new to running or just getting back into it, listen to your body.
This means, if something hurts, STOP, assess, and then proceed. If you’re feeling overheated, slow down or walk for a bit. Walking will help lower your heart rate without dramatically dropping it.
I don’t recommend going straight in for big miles. If this is your first run, I’d say keep it to a mile or less (this is where a running app will come in handy). If you aren’t running on a track or on a loop, that means half a mile out, half a mile back. To increase your distance, add a half mile or mile every 4th or 5th run, but again, if your body is ready for more (or less) it’s okay to listen! These are guidelines, not hard limits.
If you want to take water with you, especially for your first few runs, do it! Better safe than collapsed on the ground somewhere! Haha ha……
→ Some technique tips:
Begin with a leisurely pace: whatever feels good for you!
A 10-minute mile is a great goal to work towards if you think you’d like to try a race at some point.
Take slow, deep inhales through your nose and exhale out your mouth. Eventually you’ll end up breathing in and out through your mouth, and this is fine. Work to keep your breathing even.
Your hands should not cross the midline of your body when you run. This expends unnecessary energy. (Midline runs vertically up and down from your belly button!)
Running on your toes (not, like, tiptoe, but with your toes and the ball of your foot hitting the ground first) will help prevent knee injuries and is, evolutionarily speaking, a more natural movement pattern for the human body!
IV. Cool Down, Dog.
→ After every run, make sure you do some stretching!
I also use my post-run time to do a little abs-work. Since my body is already warmed up and ready to go, I feel like my core work is more effective after I run. I have no science on hand to support this.
My post-run routine:
Wash my hands.
Drink some water.
Lay out my yoga mat.
Pyramid Pose (Right and Left Sides)
Wide-Leg Forward Fold w/ a twist
Core Work (on the back)
Wide-Leg Sit-Ups (10 sit-ups, 10 micro-crunches)
Figure 4 Sit-Ups (R and L Sides, 10 sit-ups, 10 micro-crunches)
Hip Lifts (10 lifts)
Pinwheel Crunches (10 forward, 10 reverse)
Scissor Kicks in the Air (10 e/ side)
Scissor Kicks above the Mat (10 e/ side)
I know these exercises might be confusing if you aren’t familiar with the terminology, so I’ll include a follow-up article specifying each pose and movement.
V. FEED ME
→ Once your run and cool-down is over, your body will benefit from a little recovery snack, or, if you’re running before breakfast or dinner, your usual meal will be well-earned!
After my morning run, I NEED to eat, or I’ll be grouchy all day. My favorite post-run breakfast (especially when I’m training) is a peanut butter, honey, banana sandwich and a glass of chocolate milk. The peanut butter provides protein, the honey simple carbohydrates, the banana potassium (great to fight muscle cramps), the bread complex carbs, and the chocolate milk, Vitamin D! Runners swear chocolate milk is the perfect recovery drink, and they often say science says so, but I’m not sure I’ve ever learned that science. I just accept this as fact, because chocolate milk.
If this isn’t your tune, make sure you’re consuming some protein and complex carbohydrates! Coconut water is excellent, as well, as it’s full of electrolytes. Nuts, eggs, and certain green vegetables are full of protein! Avoid beer, as it will dehydrate your muscles, and sugary kanom for a couple hours after running.
A general pattern I’ve noticed in my own running is, my body performs better when I’m putting in lots of healthy foods. I have a massive sweet tooth, but I definitely feel it in my runs when I’m eating too much junk food.
If you’re interested in learning more about running, Runner’s World has a ton of great information and plenty of articles on their website! I also recommend the book Born to Run by Chris McDougall. Check out the Unique Running website if you’re interested in running some races through some beautiful historic sites here in Thailand!
Good luck with your running! Reach out to me with any questions. You can do hard things. Su su!
Read more articles on healthy living here.