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What Kind of Runner are You, What kind of Runner Would You Like To Be?
From all my years of running, coaching and attending races I see one thing in common among people who race, be it a 5K or a marathon: they all want to perform well. The first topic of conversation over a post-race soda or beer usually pertains to personal performance that day. Surprisingly, I find after talking with these folk that few have a structured, set plan of action to achieve the times they desire. The fact is, by either not devising a training program or not finding one to follow, they greatly diminish their chances of running their best. Of course, there are people out there who say they canít be bothered with schedules and programs, who run when they feel like it and race whenever they want. To those runners Iíll offer some words of caution later. To the rest, I say following a training program gives you a sense of purpose and provides organization to your running. Think about it: to be successful in most anything you need a plan, why would achieving your racing goals be any different?
Before choosing a program itís only logical to ask yourself a few questions. Am I really serious about wanting to do better in my racing? How much time and effort do I want to put into running? The answers to these questions will help in your picking a training program that suits you.
When youíve determined your level of commitment and the fact that you want to race as well as you can, itís time to pick a training program. The shelves of your local bookstore are loaded with running books containing training schedules that are appropriate foe everyone from the novice to the experienced runner. One thing Iíve noticed over the last several years is that these books have gotten better and easier to understand. Gone are the days of complex training schedules that seem like theyíd be impossible to follow. In fact, you may find choosing one program difficult because there are so many good ones available. Iíd advise going to the bookstore, looking through all the books and choosing one that has a training schedule that suits you. In fact, Runnerís World has recommended many such books. As I mentioned previously, these books will even preface their programs by stating what level of runner theyíre designed for.
And to you runners out there who still feel you donít need a schedule let me offer some advice. Actually this is applicable to everyone who runs. First, if youíre 10 pounds or more over your ideal body weight you should not be racing. racing is tough enough on your body without making it worse by racing when you are overweight. The burden on your heart and muscular-skeletal system is greatly increased by carrying those extra pounds. Secondly, get yourself some well cushioned running shoes. Iím always amazed at people who run in shoes that look like they have the shock absorption of bedroom slippers. A proper training shoe helps prevent wear and tear on your hips, legs, knees and feet. Lastly, choose to run on the most forgiving surface. The reason for this is obvious, it minimizes the amount of "pounding" the action of running creates. Blacktop is always better than cement. Ideally firmly packed dirt or a grass surface is best. So many running related injuries could be prevented if runners followed the above suggestions.
Runners, the fact that you run, train and race says a lot. It means you like running and want to do your best when you race. Donít short-change yourself by training and racing in a haphazard manner.