Rules of the Road

It's been a long time since I've posted anything about running, so I figure I can indulge myself a bit. It's been a difficult summer, with one illness or injury after another, and I feel like I'm barely maintaining basic conditioning, let alone improving. This year marks a decade since I started, though, and I've learned a few things over that time that might have been nice to know earlier. Here are a few random tidbits I've figured out over the last ten years that may be of interest to anyone just getting started.


  • The single most crucial aspect of running is consistency. If you don't set a schedule you won't be consistent. If you're not consistent, you will never progress.
  • You can do more than you think you can. It's all about incremental improvement. When I first started, a 10k seemed intimidating, never mind a half marathon or more. Now half marathons are routine, and I just need to conquer the idea of marathons being routine. I've run a couple but haven't made that stride yet.
  • Injuries will happen. You have to persist. It took me 4 years to conquer shin splints, but I did it. I ended up going to a physical therapist earlier this year, who was able to identify some things I could improve on.
  • If a dog comes after you, the best thing to do is stop and talk to it soothingly. They almost all turn into friendly puppies. The other day after running out and barking at me a dog ran along with me for about half a mile.
  • If you have been running consistently and don't like it, maybe you should try cycling or another form of exercise. As much as I advocate it, it's probably not for everyone. It should make you happy to get out, rather than being a source of stress.
  • Don't let weather stop you. You can run in rain, snow, wind, and sun. You can run when it's below zero or over 100 degrees (maybe not 100 degrees Celsius, though). If you allow yourself to get uncomfortable sometimes, you can deal with other inconveniences in life better. 
  • Related to the weather thing, a tip for running in the winter. You should be cold when you start, so you probably need less warm clothing than you think. You don't want to overheat and have to shed clothes later. It takes me maybe 10 minutes to warm up, and then I'm perfectly comfortable in short sleeves and shorts down to about 20 degrees. Below that, or with serious wind, I will wear running gloves or at least long sleeves. Only when it's down to about zero do I want an extra layer.
  • You can also run when you're sick, most of the time. I don't usually run if I have a fever, but if I just have a cold or whatever, I still get out. I might reduce my mileage a bit if it's bad.
  • I used to hate hills, because they mess up my time, but I've had to get used to them since moving to Idaho. They are your friend, and make you faster as you learn to deal with them. I've now been able to do as much as 1200 feet of climb over the course of 13 to 15 miles, something I couldn't have imagined before. And for all that uphill you do, you get to enjoy sweet downhill as well on the way home.
  • Explore your area. Don't always run the same route. You can get to know neighborhoods that you might not see otherwise.

I'll probably think of more later.

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