So, with a grand total of three runs (8.8km) behind me, it’s time to pontificate on running as if I know what I’m talking about.
Nah, you’d see through it. But it does seem worth jotting down a few thoughts for looking back on later. It’ll be interesting to see whether these turn out to be right, or to be way off the mark.
Firstly, the first few runs have increased a lot in distance. 1.5km, then 3.3km, then 4.0km. But I didn’t target those distances. Every time, I just went out to run until it was uncomfortable, then stop. I’m guessing these first few runs are getting me into what a run should feel like, rather than exhausting my fitness. I’m assuming that very soon I’ll reach a plateau where the distance stops going up so dramatically, and stays about level. That’s probably when I’ll have got over the “wow, how does this running thing work?” phase, and will have discovered my actual fitness level. I suspect I’m nearly there now.
Secondly, the first couple of runs were painful in different ways. The first run left me out of breath and exhausted. The second didn’t, but left me with very tired hip and knee muscles. The third, not really as tired at all: puffed, but feeling good. It’s worth mentioning at this point that (a) I’m really enjoying the runs and (b) I have a long history of doing exercise too intensively, getting worn out after a couple of weeks, and giving up. Assumption number two: the less-tired feeling on the third run does NOT mean that I took it easy, it’s simply that I’m getting more used to running. An average run should NOT be as hard as my first ever run. Running should mostly be at a level that’s enjoyable (challenging, but enjoyable). Pushing to the limit each time isn’t a balanced exercise programme.
Thirdly, lots of running sites suggest doing strength work on my non-running days. That may make sense in the long run, but it doesn’t make sense for me right now. I am feeling muscle ache in my legs, suggesting that running is still challenging me enough that I’m building leg strength. I do NOT want to exercise my leg muscles on non-running days right now. (Core or upper body, yes. But not a full body strength workout. No squats or lunges). I will listen to my own body and judge my own limits.
So: I will run until I’m tired but not set goals yet, I will not push myself to my maximum, I will only do strength workouts on my core/upper body for now, and I will exercise only to a level that is still enjoyable. I’ll give this a couple of weeks, and see how that plan works out.
It may take a few tries to figure this out, but I am enjoying the experiment – which, after all, is the main thing!