I always hit my stride-but I'd sure like to do it sooner!
October 22, 2012 5:17 PM   Subscribe

Can I hit my running strider earlier? And how?

I run. Regularly (right now only 25ish miles a week; work out with a trainer on days I don't run; ran more miles when training for marathon).
The first 4ish miles of a run suck. SUCK. Want to die, pushing myself because I have to, taking all my will, kind of suck. Suddenly somewhere in mile 4, I get that "I can run forever" feeling and the rest of my run is awesome. This means that if I run a 5k, the WHOLE. THING. SUCKS.
I've tried stretching beforehand. Not stretching beforehand. Speed I run those first 4 miles doesn't seem to matter.
I'd really like to not hate the first 4 miles so much. Do you have any suggestions to speed up the "hit my stride run forever" thing?
posted by atomicstone to Health & Fitness (7 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Slow down. You should start feeling good by mile 2 or 3.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 5:19 PM on October 22, 2012

How old are you? The older I get, the longer it seems to take to feel relaxed and in stride. Now I'm at about 45 minutes of warm-up ... so, I run marathons and ultras. I suppose this doesn't fix the pain, but you'll average down the euphoria/pain ratio the longer you run.

Or do the slow down thing. :-)
posted by keasby at 7:14 PM on October 22, 2012

You might experiment with your pre-run fueling. I know that I have worse starts both when I'm overfed or if I'm hungry.

However, I think most of us take some period of running before we feel comfortable. For me, its usually about a mile and a half. Maybe you are someone who just takes longer.
posted by Lame_username at 7:20 PM on October 22, 2012

In my experience this seems to be most of all an individual thing- some people just take longer to warm up than others.

I would try varying your warmup routine (currently your 4 lousy miles) and make notes on what works for you. Try different combinations of the following:

-slow running
-~30 second accelerations
-dynamic stretches/drills (try some of the following: high knees, butt kicks, skipping, bounding, I am sure you can find some other stuff online)

Before a race I usually do some variation on this, depending on how much time I have and on the length of the race, to get ready to run fast:
1 slow mile
a variety of dynamic stretches/drills (3-5 minutes)
1/2 mile slow
2-4 30-second accelerations with slow running in between

That's not a lot less time than 4 miles, but it is somewhat less.

I can't tell if I'm misunderstanding your question, but it sounds like you're either running or working out with a trainer nearly every day. This may contribute to how long it's taking you to warm up-- I find that when my muscles are tired, it takes me a lot longer to get to a point where I feel good.
posted by matcha action at 7:44 PM on October 22, 2012

You might consider mixing things up with intervals, tempo training, or plyometrics and then doing your long workouts afterwards. Alternately, you can also (or in addition) try using visualization to get you to that headspace/bodyspace more quickly. FWIW, I've had success hitting my (metaphorical or otherwise) stride with all of those strategies, running and in other sports.
posted by skye.dancer at 8:30 PM on October 22, 2012

When do you run? Do you have the same problem hitting stride at different times of the day? It always took me longer to get into a groove on early morning runs then when I ran at noon. And some of my better runs were when my wife dropped me off on our way home from work in the early evening. Mix up your training schedule and find out if you have a better time of day for running.
posted by birdwatcher at 5:12 AM on October 23, 2012

Response by poster: Thanks for the advice. I wish this was a "do this" and not a trial and error sort of thing.
Yesterday, I paid special attention to my form at the beginning of my run. And I think the answer lies somewhere in there.
Forcing myself to be sure to have my shoulders over my hips [and never "leaned" forward at all] made the first few miles ore pleasant.
Stretching is great, but doesn't do whatever loosening up the first few miles do for me.
Will continue experimenting.
posted by atomicstone at 8:36 AM on October 24, 2012

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