How should I run?
August 8, 2014 6:58 PM   Subscribe

I would like to integrate running into my lifestyle. How should I do so? With a particular program? Casually? Snowflake -- I've recently switched to minimalist sneakers.

I've recently decided that I like to run. I imagine it has to do with slowing down my pace, so that I can actually run a bit without slowing to a walk. Also, living in the mountains with beautiful trails.

I've in the last few months integrated running solely as my warm up before I lift (I'm about a month into starting strength, for maybe the 4th time in my life). I started with a struggle to run a single 10 minute mile, and now I can pretty easily run an 8 minute mile, but I usually just run 1 or 1.5 miles before I lift.

Today, I ran a longer distance for the first time in a few years: 5.25 miles at an 11 min pace. I really loved it!

Snowflake -- I've recently switched to minimalist sneakers. I like the change in running style, and I run my mile warmup toe striking, but my calves couldn't handle toe striking on my longer run today.

How do you think I should integrate running into my lifestyle? I'm not training for a marathon (though that isn't out of the question), and I have no particular goals: I just want to start running more. Is running in conflict with starting strength? Should I run longer distances at slower speed? Should I run shorter distances at faster speed? Should I mix it up? Follow a program? Merely increase my pre-lift workout run? Run on off-days?

posted by masters2010 to Health & Fitness (13 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
I gather this isn't running on a treadmill. That is terrible for your mind and body, so good!

Just keep running. The general wisdom is to only increase your distance by 10% week-over-week, and that's pretty apt when also switching to a new shoe type. For what it's worth, a switch to a minimal (but still traditional) shoe cured my knee pain because I slowed down and fixed my stride when switching. Don't worry too much on toe striking vs heel vs midfoot, and so on, because we all run differently. Be aware but not overly so.

But, just keep running. Do what you feel like doing. You'll figure out if you're a distance runner, a trail runner, an ultra runner, some mix of the above, or something else entirely. If you don't want to run one day, don't. If you planned to run a trail and want to do intervals, do that instead. Your body knows what it likes if you listen to it.

I've run every distance to a marathon multiple times, and no matter if it's a race, training run, or in between, the first three miles suck. I wonder what happened to me. Then the switch goes off and I get into the groove. Running a mile or two is great, but it's really just the start. Good luck!
posted by kcm at 7:11 PM on August 8, 2014 [1 favorite]

Seconding everything kcm said. Just run! Do everything!

I also switched to minimalist shoes when I got back into running, and I think they're great. I wouldn't worry too much about your striking position unless you start noticing pain. I rarely strike on my toes, even during shorter runs, and I don't have issues.

I've never followed any program, so I can't recommend any. I prefer to run when I like and how I like. If you want to keep a log of all your runs, I suggest Strava — I was surprised to find that its social features are actually pretty motivating.

Maybe try to find a few friends or a local group to run with. Running with others can be a wholly different and equally great experience.

Good luck!
posted by rensar at 7:50 PM on August 8, 2014

One more thing, about running while strength training. I do both. (Caveat: I'm not trying to get incredibly sculpted or built. I do it mostly to mix things up.) I've read that running can conflict with strength training, but I've been able to increase my muscle mass a good amount while running pretty heavily.

I used to run on strength days before lifting, but recently switched to alternating every day. I like it better, and I'm running better. It's important to let your legs recover.
posted by rensar at 8:10 PM on August 8, 2014

I do running on running days, and lifting on lifting days, and that works great for me! For lifting warmups, I just do 5 reps of 50% of my one-rep-max, then 5 reps of 60% of my one-rep-max; no cardio. So I advise switching run days with lift days! (I also run with minimalist-ish footwear, using the New Balance Minimus)

Remember to stretch after running, and stick to the don't-increase-mileage-by-more-than-10%-a-week rule, and you should be golden.
posted by Greg Nog at 8:31 PM on August 8, 2014

The point at running will conflict with strength training is if you want to run marathons (plural, and often) and, like, Leadville, if you get into serious training you're going to have to focus on running. But if you're just running casually, you're fine.

I run in minimalist shoes and it's been fine.

Mind your joints. Muscle pain is pretty normal but joint or tendon pain is worth keeping an eye on and dialing back. I like Anatomy for Runners for monitoring my "Should I worry about this or am I just 34 years old?" situation.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 8:37 PM on August 8, 2014

If you have no particular goals, don't worry about what is the most efficient way to achieve them. Run whatever distance you like at whatever pace you like. Back off if you feel pain. (It's sometimes hard to distinguish tendon pain from muscle pain, but if you lift then you know the difference between pain and soreness.)

If you find that you are consistently doing hour-long runs like your 5.5mi run, look into high-intensity interval training (HIIT). Just for fun, of course. The most famous one is the Tabata protocol, but fartleks are another tradition and nowadays there are any number of variations floating around the internet. A completely un-rigorous, non-clinically-proven one: find a big staircase (e.g., apartment building, sports stadium), walk up it, walk down it, then alternate running up and walking down until you get tired.
posted by d. z. wang at 10:00 PM on August 8, 2014

Read this. Meditate on it. But here is a/the key point: learn to run slowly. This is hard to do. But run at a pace at which you can carry on a comfortable conversation. If you get a heart rate monitor, and you should, this will be roughly 70% of your MHR (roughly 220-age). At first this pace will feel very, very slow, and you may have to stop and walk to keep your HR down. This is fine.

Don't start out too ambitiously. Take lots of rest days; these are important for building your base. This happens all the time: x starts running. X feels good after a month. X cranks up the mileage. X feels great for two weeks. X gets tendonitis/stress fracture.

Be patient. Build a base of long, slow distance.

Go to a running shop and have them analyze your gate to determine which shoes you should wear.

Most serious runners think anything more minimal than a racing flat is bs. But some like Frees, etc. I'd get a good pair of eg ASICS Cumulus or the like, and a racing flat, and alternate.

After a couple weeks, you'll want to work in strideouts. Hadd talks about them. Like 5x150m with 2 min rest at 3k pace. These should be easy, as well.
posted by persona au gratin at 2:05 AM on August 9, 2014 [2 favorites]

I love running! Especially trail running. And for years I ran every other day, 3-5 miles, just to keep myself sane, with no training goal in mind.

But you won't know if you like racing until you try it. Since you're already up to 5 miles I'd say sign up for a 10k, pick a goal time, and start training. My training schedule looks like this:

Tu: speedwork
Th: hills
Sat: long (slow) run
Sun: run for fun

There are lots of training plans online, if that's the route you want to go.

The Complete Book of Running is also a great resource.
posted by Brittanie at 8:22 AM on August 9, 2014

Great info here! Thanks for the advice. How would you recommend I eat? Clean calorie surplus, in conjunction with my weight training? Or should I simply focus on eating well? No particular goals but to be healthy, but I'm 10 or 15 lbs heavier than I have been previously. I don't feel out of shape, or much fatter, but I also don't feel like I've gained 15lbs of straight muscle...
posted by masters2010 at 5:07 PM on August 9, 2014

Eh, I tend to put the most effort into eating healthily, though I'm also trying to lose a few pounds. I use Myfitnesspal, and it is great. I care less about the calorie counting than I do about maintaining a good balance of protein/carbs/fat. Both are good features though.
posted by rensar at 6:46 PM on August 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

When I'm running, especially when I'm doing a lot of base building as I detailed above, the pounds just fall off me. So eat healthily, but no special diet is required.
posted by persona au gratin at 1:00 AM on August 10, 2014

Let me also suggest, the messageboard in particular. It is a cesspool. It makes Reddit look polite and liberal and humane by comparison. But there are some people who will respond to posts there who really know what they're doing, and they will help you. About 10 years ago, as I was getting back into running, I asked some questions there and got a lot of help. But the place is full of racists and homophobes and all-around general assholes. So keep that in mind before you check it out. But it was there I learned about proper training (Lydiard, Jack Daniels, etc).
posted by persona au gratin at 1:06 AM on August 10, 2014

Check out Jay Dicharry's Anatomy for Runners. Chapters 9 and 10 outline tests and drills that help you train your body to move correctly. They'll help you to be more efficient and reduce your chances of getting an overuse injury.
posted by golden at 11:53 AM on August 11, 2014

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