Runner’s World January 2004
By Jeff Galloway
Stay the Course
Like life, running comes with lots of highs and lows. Here’s
how to run your best through them all.
- By Jeff Galloway
Your running life can be a real roller-coaster ride. One week the
weather is ideal, your body feels strong, and you can’t wait
to tackle even the toughest runs. The next week a Northeaster unloads
in your backyard, that nagging pain in your calf returns, and it’s
a mental struggle to lace up your shoes. And who knows what’s
So, if you want to remain a runner for the long haul, you have to
learn to anticipate these ups and downs and not let them keep you
down - or even up - for too long. That’s right, even riding
a running high can lead to problems by tempting you to run too fast,
too long, or too often. The result: Your high sends you spiraling
to a new low.
Here’s how to navigate some of the biggest bumps in the road.
LOW: BAD-WEATHER BLUES
Temperature extremes at both ends of the thermometere and all forms
of precipitation can make for occasional running lows.
BEAT THE BLUES: The right high-tech garments can make even the coldest,
hottest, wettest, or snowiest runs more comfortable. Each season,
make a trip to a specialty running store, and let the knowledgeable
staff suit you up with the basics.
ALSO: Having and indoor exercise option - be it a piece of cardio
equipment in your basement, a health-club membership, or access
to an indoor track - will keep your fitness (and spirits) high.
HIGH: START-UP MANIA
There’s nothing like starting a new running program or coming
back to running after a layoff to make you feel great. Maybe too
MANAGE THE MANIA: Find a training plan that alternates running days
and rest days, and then stick to it - no matter how good you feel.
Running too much, too soon can turn your mania into moaning (think
ALSO: During the first few months, moderate your effort on each
run so that you can always finish strong and remain motivated.
LOW: DARKNESS DOWNER
Studies have shows that motivation lags when a task must be performed
in the dark.
LIGHTEN THINGS UP: Try to run on your lunch hour. Spending time
outside when the sun is up will energize your mind and body.
ALSO: Trek the mall during the dead of winter. Indoor malls are
bright, cheery, and have tons of interesting stuff to look at.
HIGH: GREAT EXPECTATIONS
You’re running and racing well. So well, you set one personal
record after another.
KEEP THINGS IN CHECK: Understand that time improvements are bound
to come in smaller and smaller increments. Knocking 30 minutes off
your first marathon time is outstanding, but realize that you probably
won’t knock off another 30 minutes (or even 10) each time
ALSO: Focus on goals that aren’t time oriented. Running to
increase your endurance, improve your health, or lower you stress
level are all measurable goals that can be achieved regardless or
LOW: INJURY FRUSTRATION
There’s no bigger downer for a runner than forced time off
due to injury.
MEND BODY AND MIND: Visit a medical professional immediately and
take and active role in your rehabilitation. By taking control of
the situation early on, you’ll combat the feelings of helplessness
that often accompany injury.
ALSO: Don’t settle for just any cross-training activity during
your downtime. Find something that peaks your competitive interests
or fulfills your desire to learn a new skill.
LOW: RACE ANXIETY
You get nervous every time you think about entering a race.
FORGET YOUR FEARS: Enter a race with a group of buddies, and run
it together as a team.
ALSO: Plan to join a running friend at a coffee shop an hour or
2 before the race. The pre-race meeting should wake you up and ease
your tensions. And the java jolt might just help your performance.
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