I’m not shy about telling people that I run, and this gets me a lot of questions from friends about running. It seems this is common for all runners, so I’ve compiled a list of some common questions, and my answers. If my advice is wrong, it’s totally my fault. Or possibly yours for listening to me.
Why do you run?
I run because it’s the LEAST efficient way for me to move. I can use more energy in a shorter period of time than doing just about anything else. Think about it- it would take a lot longer to use the same amount of kilojoules by cycling, driving or batting your eyelids. I kind of hate running, but I’m kind of used to it. And I love the people I’ve met- interesting and DEDICATED. I get a lot of strength from these people- much more than I put in. I get a lot out of running and the community. There, I said it again.
What shoes should I buy?
Hang on- you’re asking someone who’s run (slowly) for 3 years when you can get expert advice from a trained professional? Seriously, go to a specialist running shop and ask them. A place like FootPoint Shoe Clinic in Mosman will even have a someone video and check your gait (make an appointment). Don’t go to Athlete’s Foot or Rebel. Really
Should I buy those Vibram Five Fingers things?
But I’m a dreadful heel striker!!
Yeah me too. Modern shoes have plenty of cushioning- get the right ones and go for it. If you want to teach yourself to forefoot strike, just run barefoot. That’ll teach your nasty feet. Or do your body a favour and buy some Hokas
But I need to wait for summer/ winter/ my pet lichen/ the rapture
No you don’t. There will never be a perfect time to start. The closest to perfect is NOW.
Do you run every day?
Hell no. My days off are like brilliant pearls of cool nothingness in the brutal fire of training. I mean I really enjoy my days off.
But won’t you stuff up your knees?
Short answer- no. Longer answer- not yet. Pat Farmer’s knees are ok, and he ran more than 2 marathons a day over 10 months from the North Pole to The South Pole. Strangely enough, we seem to have evolved to be able to run. If you don’t run you are ignoring one of the key things you are built for. Yes you.
But I’m too unfit!
Yep, so was I. Make a plan, execute it. Don’t delay any more. Do it while you still can. Don’t end up like the next person-
I can’t walk up stairs without an oxygen mask!
See a Doctor, you really need more help than I can give.
But Don’t runners get injured all the time?
I read a statistic that says that 60% of runners will get injured in any single year. That could well be true. You could get run over by a bus- does that stop you going to work? Let’s call this one out- it’s an excuse that has a basis in truth. I can say this- if you run, you won’t care much about this statistic. I don’t.
But won’t your body wear out?
Will your brain wear out from all that high level thinking? No. In fact if you start now, you might reverse some of the damage caused by NOT moving your arse.
Isn’t it hard?
So what? Shake your life up. If you’re my age, you’re probably not going to get any better looking, unless you get fitter. Worth a try? You bet.
Don’t you freaks live on mung beans and air?
I really like air. I also really like foods with lots of fat, salt and sugar. I can’t control those cravings well enough to diet my way to thinness, so I eat and run. My diet has become slightly better because of running, but boy do I earn a lot of beer points.
Is pain just weakness leaving the body?
No, that’s just some dumbarse saying that gym rats use to make them seem tough. Pain is a useful message that your muscles are breaking down, or building up, or it could be your body telling you to stop. Learn to ignore it. Unless you really are injured.
Do I have to give up things I love?
Do you like living or watching TV more? I’m not going to live for ever, but running has improved my quality of life. I’m prepared to give up a bit of TV for that.
But I prefer 40 minutes of running and 4 hours of drinking!
Join the Hash House Harriers.
I have a problem with motivation
Join a running club, you’ll have a great time and will look forward to training. Also- sign up for a race, that’ll scare you enough to train!
I have a problem with motivation, but I’m rich
Get a personal trainer
I have a problem with motivation, but I’ve just signed up for this ridiculously hard race
Get a coach
I Don’t have time
Here’s a confession- I have the same number of hours in the day that you do. I have a supportive wife and together we’ve set up our lives so that we can both train. Not easy, but we’ve done it. Here’s a typical Saturday for me- get up at 4:40am, breakfast. Run from 5:30am-9:30am, have a nap. Take son to a birthday party, take son to grandparents. Go out to dinner, midnight home and tucked into bed. Does it sound like I missed out on anything? Nope. Runners fit more in to their day.
I can’t change everything at once!
Don’t. Even trying to do that is a sure way to failure. Change one or two things at a time. Turning up is half the battle, the other half is well, turning up regularly. Amongst my running friends there aren’t many smokers, but there are a lot of past or present booze hounds, gamblers and a few drug pigs. Don’t be surprised if a few of us take to running like a new addiction, because it is. Sorry if we sound like we’ve got religion, but if you start running, some of those high fives will be aimed at you.
Why do you run such long events?
Well, I can’t run very fast. And I’m like a kid with a new toy- I want to see what my body can do. Does this mean I will poke it until it breaks? Probably, but you shouldn’t be worried because we have an amazing capacity to heal. My VO2 Max is probably quite low from childhood asthma, I can’t ascend hills very well. I’m a middle of the pack runner and will probably never get much better. But that’s no reason not to try.
I like cycling better
So do I. But I like runners better, and I’ve recognised that I’m a social animal. I’m more likely to go out on a cold night for a run. So I run. You should do whatever gets you going, it doesn’t have to be running. But do it.
Are you one of those crazy people who run in the rain?
Ohhh yesssss. It’s stupid, and painful for a short time. But you know what? One of my most memorable runs was with a bunch of people I didn’t know very well through a major storm. We were screaming with laughter and splashing through puddles for joy. It was awesome. You feel a bit like King Canute screaming at the implacable rain ‘come at me bro!’ Don’t ever feel sorry for people running in the rain…….
But I get shin splints/ stitches/ knee pain/ groin pain etc
If it’s really bad, see a Sports Doctor. Otherwise it will probably go away if you keep going. I had bad shin splints for several months, but it was just my body adjusting. It’s also very common for new runners to get stitches and other pains. These will usually go away when your body realises that you aren’t simply going to stop when it gives you the signal.
I’d love to come for a run with you- when I’m fit enough!
Discard the bit about ‘when I’m fit enough’. We don’t care how fit you are, we just want to share a bit of outside time with you. If we go and do the Bay Run and you run 100m and walk 200m, we’re going to love it so much more than if you pounded out those 7km by yourself. And you might too. Get someone else involved. Don’t be shy about your abilities, everyone starts from nothing (well not everyone, but I sure did). You want to go for a slow run? I LOVE a slow run!