By: Amy Schultz, RMT
Amy, a registered massage therapist at Body Poets, now loves to run.
I never thought I would be a runner, never in a million years. I used to joke that I might consider running if a hungry animal was chasing me (I suppose these days I should say if a zombie was chasing me, just to keep my “joke” current) or, maybe for the bus (haha, I’m sure you’ve heard it all before), but in all seriousness,
I truly did hate running for, or away from, anything.
I think this is because many times in the past I have tried to become a runner and failed.
I think there were a number of reasons for my previous failures, but most of these reasons stemmed from one basic flaw in my attempt at training, and that was that
I went for as long, as far and as fast as I could possibly go on my first day.
This resulted in me hating it while I was suffering through it, as well as for the next 2-3 days afterwards, because I was very sore for that many days. Being a massage therapist I tend to listen to my body and when something hurts that much it means stop, don’t do it, so I listened.
Although, I do have to admit, most of my attempts at becoming a runner were before I was a massage therapist, because I knew a lot less about the body and even less about how to try to make a reasonable training schedule. But even once I had some idea about how to create a training schedule, for some reason I still didn’t know how hard and far I should push my own body in my first week or even day of trying to run. So I always gave up, and thought,
“Running isn’t for me, I’m just not designed to run. I’m designed for yoga, and hiking, and cycling, but not running.”
Then one day my partner signed me up for a 5km run, so I had to do something different if I was going to be able to complete this task he had set for me (I had asked him to sign me up though, so I wouldn’t have any more excuses). In his infinite wisdom he also suggested
I tried a Learn to Run clinic offered by The Running Room, and that’s what made the difference.
In the first week you only run for one minute and walk for two minutes, times 7 reps, 3 days a week. At the first class, I was towards the front of the group thinking to myself, this is a breeze, why did I think this was so hard before? From there the running increments are so small, usually just an extra minute at a time, that it’s relatively painless. Until one day you’re running for 10 minutes straight at a time with just one minute walk break in between your reps. After that, I joined the 5km clinic that they offered just to be sure I could run for at least 5km.
Mind you, I still have had some mild challenges with certain aches and pains that are common to running, like tight shins (almost shin splints, but I never let it get to that point), tight IT band, sore feet or Achilles tendon/calf tightness, hip flexor tightness, maybe throw in a little glute or piriformis tightness for good measure. Luckily with my knowledge of the body and stretching and massage, I was always able to take care of it myself before it turned into a real problem for me, so
I was never sidelined by any of my challenges.
And I was able to complete my 5km run on September 22. I completed it in 34 minutes and 31 seconds. My training runs on my own were a little faster, because there were a lot of people on the road on race day, but it was a lot of fun! And I like that I had a goal to train for, it kept me motivated to stick with my training program until it just became a habit to go for a 5km run.
Now that new habit feels good, I don’t hate it anymore, I don’t suffer, and I’m not sore.
I love how much fitter and healthier I feel. I’m even considering training for a longer race, but in all honesty going for a 4-5km run 3 times a week is enough to keep me healthy and happy, and longer distances are going to put more wear and tear and stress on my body, so I will really have to think about why I might want to train for a longer race.
I highly recommend The Running Room clinics http://www.events.runningroom.com/hm2/, either the learn to run, or if you’re already a runner, they have clinics for longer distance training too. It is helpful if you want to train for a longer distance and reduce the risk of injury or pushing yourself too far, too fast.
I think anyone who wants to become a runner should be able to,
if you follow a gradual training program, not adding too much running time or distance at once (don’t be a hero), but being consistent. If you follow a stretching program, and maybe do some self massage or foam rolling you should be able to run relatively problem- and pain-free. However, if you still happen to start feeling some aches and pains, or are unsure of what to do for yourself, then please get some help with your tight or problem areas from a massage therapist and/or a physiotherapist. The sooner you deal with a potential problem, the less likely it is to turn into a major problem or a chronic problem, and the sooner you can get back to your normal activities and training schedule.