Runners World Articles: Archives
When people look for running partners, they often look for someone
who runs a similar pace, and who has been running for as long as
Yet, I think the best pairings sometimes have more to do with what
we don't have in common. Take beginning runners and veteran runners.
When the two mix, a lot of positive synergy exists.
Beginners often drip with enthusiasm and motivation, which helps
veterans rediscover the joys of running. I talk to many veterans
who, in the rush to get out the door, and pile on the miles for
their next race, don't take the time to smell the endorphins. A
few runs with a beginner can change this mind-set.
Veterans hold a storehouse of running knowledge that can benefit
any beginner-how to find good shoes, how hard to run and how to
register for races. Of course, for this connection to work, both
beginners and veterans must respect each other's limits. Here's
how to make the best of your pairing.
Encourage. Probably a dozen people you know (family
members, co-workers, friends) would like to start running but have
no idea how to begin. They also don't want to approach you about
running with them for fear of slowing you down. Soothe such anxieties
by inviting them to join you for a run. These shorter, slower workouts
may not bring you a faster 5-K time, but they will make you more
enthusiastic about your training.
Hold back. Beginners often go slowly at first.
After about four to eight weeks of building a base, however, many
get overconfident. They increase distance or speed too quickly,
run too many days per week or all of the above. In their quest to
become "real" runners, they complain of aches, pains, loss of motivation,
and longer recoveries.
It's your job to remind beginners of the inherent flaws in doing
too much too soon. Tell war stories about injuries that laid you
up for months-injuries that could have been prevented. Also, hold
back during your weekly runs together.
Take walking breaks. I can't stress this enough.
Novice runners need to incorporate walking breaks during every run.
This practice reduces injuries and helps them feel great at the
end. If you normally run continuously, help the beginner by walking
for a minute each mile. I'm willing to bet you'll soon convert to
my run/walk philosophy.
Just ask. Many novices are intimidated and feel
uncomfortable asking questions of veterans. Don't be. Veterans love
to answer running questions.
Wait until you are ready. If you've never run
before, the last thing you want to do is chase after a veteran runner
for a mile or more. Instead, start out walking. Walk for 20 minutes
for four days, then walk for 30 minutes for four more days. Then
add 2 minutes of running for every 4 minutes of walking. Slowly
lengthen the running and shorten the walking until you're running
for 10 minutes and walking for 1 minute.
Don't worry about speed. Some veterans may tell
you to challenge yourself by trying to run faster. As a fast runner,
I can tell you speed doesn't bring happiness. In fact, pressuring
yourself to improve your pace may make you start to hate running.
Instead, focus on consistency. Get out there regularly and concentrate
on healthier goals, such as stress reduction and weight control.
Don't take pain in stride. Many beginning runners
(and running dropouts) ask me "When does it stop hurting?" My answer:
if it hurts, you're doing it wrong. By keeping the pace slow at
the beginning of every run, and by taking walking breaks, you should
never feel pain.
World, April 1999, p. 44
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