Sunday, May 19, 2024

How To Always Be A Consistent Runner

Photograph by Vesa Minkkinen

How To Always Be A Consistent Runner

It’s not easy to be a consistent runner if it was then all the people on the planet would do it. Statistics thought show another picture, that every year more people are taking up running and finishing races.

Like all things in life, there is a beginning which is always exciting. We start to learn how our body behaves and acts through the excellent athletic exercise of running. We find out how, what, when to eat and drink. Then there is the middle period where we apply and practice all the information we accumulate on our early stages of learning about running, and for a lot of people, there is an end for running.

For some is permanent, they took up running to lose some weight. After losing the desired pounds, they abandoned running. Others stopped running because they got a new job. Their working schedule does not allow them to start running again. Women stayed pregnant. Devoted their time to raising their kids instead of continuing running. A new project like building a house just started and needed all your waking hours. Others started running as a crutch because they stop smoking. They used running as a way to kill the urges of having a cig.  As soon the urges went away they stop running. The examples of why people stop running are endless; they are the same number of individuals on this planet.

For some the act of running is not permanent, it’s a yo-yo situation, I quit smoking I start smoking.

I put 10 pounds this year I lose 15 pounds the next year and so on.

Yo yo, running is, of course, better than not running at all.  Since I started running back in 2010, I had periods of complete lack of running or days that running consumed me completely. Where does the balance lie?

The road ahead.

Right now I am faced again with the choice of continue running or stop so I can use all of my time into the completion of my house.

There are advantages and disadvantages of stopping running. I don’t have any statistics to back this up. My intuition tells me that a big chunk of the runners out there are yo-yo runners. I assume this because we are humans and everyone has its ups and downs, and we do the best to deal with the bad and the good that comes into our life’s.

The disadvantages are that if we stop running, we will lose our level of physical ability. It will drop gradually and finally dissipate.

Our immune system will become weaker with all what it entails. We will be more stressful, lot’s of studies show that running helps to reduce anxiety and stress. Furthermore, improve our emotional state. The weight that we lost will come back gradually. We will lose that beautiful well-being that we earned from running.

The only advantage I know from stopping running and this comes from experience is that we might miss it so much that will motivate us to get back to it. This time we will make sure not to stop again.

An Example.

I haven’t run since I finished the 1st Garmin Cyprus Troodos Marathon 2017. My current psychological and emotional state pushes me into the decision that  I won’t be running again. I won’t run until the end of the year where I hopefully wish my house will be finished. Except for the house, I have agriculture chores to attend too, by helping my parents. Weeds to remove, watering of the plants and trees, picking the fruits, etc. These tasks take a lot of time, and they also take a significant physical toll on my body.

For some, running is a lifestyle; they never stop running since the first day they started. Adopting running as a way of life is the secret to better health. Running helped me lose weight and also show me and open the doors for my plant-based lifestyle.

Ultimately adopting running as a way of life is something I  try to do continuously and much as I can. I admire people that managed to find the perfect balance of incorporating running into their life’s. Comparing with other people I have it easy, I am still single, no wife to “nag” and kids to consume my time. There are men and women out there with busy jobs and families. They manage to finish races in excellent times, and a lot of them are ten and more years older than me. These people are my heroes, the ordinary citizens that are doing it day in and day out are my inspiration and the reason I haven’t given up on running completely thus far.

The Goal.

My goal is to become one of them, to be an inspiration for other people. I want to achieve this kind of consistency they have with running. For 2017 I am pretty proud of myself. I managed to train and finish my second 50k race and also a marathon race.

In this article, I want to present some sources, mostly books that helped me win the debate I always have with myself when other life priorities come knocking my door.

We need to understand that we must always have run as a priority because the advantages of exercising running are far much more than not running at all.

Unless you are training for a marathon and above, then the time we need to invest in comparison with the health advantages it offers is priceless, and it’s not that time-consuming as you might think.

One thing that I want to put on the table is adaptability; dinosaurs died because they didn’t have the time to adapt to the changes of the environment around them. As Runners and as people with needs, obligations we must learn to adapt, most importantly we need to train our very stubborn brain to accept change.

Our brain makes sure to make our life difficult every time we attempt to do the smallest change. That’s because our brain is protecting itself. The brain is the engine of the car if something happens to the car the engine gets damaged too.

When we are contemplating of starting running the brain goes into red alert because we are planning to do something with our body that it might be potentially dangerous thus entangling its existence.

Our Brain Wants Us To Fail.

So, the brain will do it’s best to prevent you from starting exercising. How it does that? Simple and natural. Thoughts of comfort in the form of excuses begin to float our mind.

It’s a Sunday why on earth would you want to go out and not stay home, relax, watch a movie on your comfortable couch or chair. Invite some friends over, have a pizza, play some video games on the computer, socializing on Facebook and Twitter. Sounds familiar? It must be I have these same thoughts too all the time.

When I come home from work, and I had a stressful bad day, there are times that instead of wearing my running clothes and go to have that 6-mile tempo run I have planned I would prefer to take a hot shower and just be lazy in bed watching a documentary or reading a book. Running is not Comfort!

Don’t get me wrong staying in bed and watching a documentary or reading a book it’s also good for you, but you can do that after running or do them first but also do not neglect running after. That’s how the brain gets you.

Now how do we overcome this awkward situation, simple and easy, we use our logic against our brain, we say that running is good for us because it will make a stronger and healthier body thus in line with the brains directives of keeping the body safe and healthy.

The immune system will get stronger, fighting and killing bugs and viruses more effectively protecting the body and at the same time the brain.

Our stress and anxiety will go down, making the work of the brain easier.

The Constant Battle.

For me, this is a fight I need to fight every time I am emotionally exhausted, and I have a training run scheduled. The good news is that after about a month of debating with your brain, your brain finally accepts the fact that you will be running from now on and it doesn’t consider running a threat anymore.

Small changes do bring significant results; my life is a good example of this little statement. In 2009 I was a chain tobacco smoker and overweight, health wise I was a ticking heart attack, a stroke or cancer waiting to happen and I was only 34 years old. I was depressed and miserable.

A small change that I did back in April of 2009 turned my life around, I quit smoking, using the Cold Turkey Method. That little change leads to events that the final result is my new improved and healthier me.

I am in my forties, and I feel like I am in my twenties I am not exaggerating. That small thought in my brain to stop smoking, drove me to get rid of the sick addiction of nicotine improving my health, then I started running to lose the weight I gain because I stop smoking. I use eating as a crutch to help me with my urges of having a cig.

My running drove me in discovering a plant-based lifestyle, and now I am a better person in every aspect, physically, emotionally psychologically and mentally.

Enough babbling lets get practical.

We know who is the culprit now, our inner demons. It’s us; it’s our brain that prevents us from making those small changes. Now we know how to win that debate. Do the change you want; it might be running it might be other sport it doesn’t matter. What matter is to create a healthy and beneficial habit for you. One that will take approximately a month to do it as my good friend Wayne Kurtz in his fantastic book “Never Say I Wish I Had

We must stick with this, and after a month I promise you the debates with your brain will not be that hard. For some people it might be less than a month others might be more, nobody can tell you when it’s going to happen, not even me I am just giving you what I read and what I know from personal experience, the best person to tell you is yourself.

The second item you need to tackle is to be able to adapt, to be able to incorporate running into your busy life.

I am going to give you an example; it’s going to be my example. The particulars of my case I am sure will not be any help for you from a practical point of you because you and I are very different entities. With complete different wants and desires and most importantly goals.

You might want to lose weight; you might want to start training so you can finish your first 5k race, you ought to train for a marathon or an ultra marathon, you might want just to start walking so you gradually start to get into shape.

The options are countless.

My situation right now is that even that I want to continue to train and participate in races like marathons and 50k’s I can’t because they take too much time.

I said it before in my books and my articles training for anything longer than a marathon is like having a second part time job, it is time-consuming.

So instead of thinking of stopping running. Instead, I will ADAPT.

I will lower my expectations, and I will concentrate in participating in 5k races and also focus on reducing my body fat even more and increasing my muscle mass.

This way I will have the time to run. Training for a 5k is not that time demanding, and I can incorporate it in my life.

I will use the training plans that I employed in the past, and they work. Run Less Run Faster is a fantastic book that helped me achieve two things. Find the time to train without sacrificing performance. The book is excellent. Run Less Run Faster offers a training program for running three times a week and doing alternating exercises twice a week with two rest days!

It sounds too perfect to be true but trust me it works. The philosophy of the training works providing you will follow the instructions of the program as best as you can.

Mix & Much.

Now I like to mix and much, so for the alternative exercises sometimes I used exercises taken by another two fantastic books. The first one is called Thrive Fitness by Brendan Brazier and the second is called Vegan Bodybuilding & Fitness by Robert Cheeke.

Also, the two books above offer food menus that will help you construct your nutrition regime of what to eat before during and after your running sessions.

The Run less Run faster book covers running plans from 5k to a marathon which is amazing. If you are training for more than 42k. I have for you four books that help me to prepare and finish my 50k race. The books are Hal Koerner’s Field Guide to Ultrarunning by Hal Koerner, and Adam W. Chase is again a fantastic book. It covers everything you need to know about ultra running from training plans, what to eat, what to wear, everything, the title is truly representative of the content of the book as well.

Now that covers the practical aspect of ultra-running. For inspiration then I suggest you read three more books, Finding Ultra by Rich Roll and Eat & Run by Scott Jurek.

The fourth book is written by Legendary Greek Ultra Marathoner Yiannis Kouros, and I don’t know if there is an English Translation.

What I intend to do.

The way I see it at my current state is like this. Monday, Wednesday, and Friday I will do my running training. I will do them after I get home from work. I get home around 4:30 p.m. so I am doing my training session from 5 to 6 p.m.

Now that is summer here in Cyprus there is daylight until 8:30 p.m. Which will give me adequate time to work on the house or do my other chores.

Tuesday and Thursday I will do weight lifting sessions at my gym that I setup ay my house. Same hours, 5 to 6 p.m.

On the weekend they will be my free resting days, from running anyway. Building a house and agriculture work is not easy tasks at all.

This way I will continue running and maintain a certain level of physical performance. In the future when I have more time I can go back. I can go back and train for that 60 miler I always wanted to do.

Experiment and Prevail.

I can give you a more detailed plan of what to eat and when to eat. Also, I can provide which exercises for you to do and when to do them but trust me they won’t help you a bit.

The exercises in the books I mentioned and also the training plans are good to use as guides. Never follow a training schedule that was made by other people to the letter. You are unique, and you should always take the way of thinking, the mindset. Take away the philosophy of the plans. Either is about nutrition or running and then create your own tailored to your needs program.

I hope I helped.

Have a Healthy and Happy day.


Andreas Michaelides

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