Shiv is an army officer, an avid runner (80-100km per week please!) and loves his beer.
I can authoritatively state for the record that in all my (admittedly few) years of writing about my running, I have never once written anything useful.
That is unlikely to change today. However, I shall try.
Over the past four years, I have, much to my own bafflement, found myself getting steadily faster as a runner. This has given me, the humblest person in the known universe, a bit of a god complex. So, Imma take these here stone tablets and carve out some commandments and such. Nothing particularly new about this. Google ‘running commandments’ and you’ll come across a bunch of similarly formatted stuff.
Thou shalt not get injured.
Don’t do it. Just…don’t. I read somewhere that the whole point of training is to avoid injury, so that one can continue training. Everything else is secondary. Once you get past the slight weirdness in that statement, you realize how undeniably true it is. You think this is not in your control? You’re mistaken. Barring actual accidents, it is completely within your control.
Thou shalt strength train.
Running injuries are the direct consequence of muscular weaknesses. Rectify that. I do just three things on a mat, three days a week, with no equipment. Squats/ lunges, planks, push-ups. I think that’s the bare minimum, and quite enough. but Hey…Yoga? Crossfit? Tabata? Pilates? Weights? TRX? Whatever floats your boat, man…
Thou shalt have patience.
If you’re injured, it’s probably because you did too much, too soon. It takes years. Years. I guarantee that you will get faster. I also guarantee that it won’t happen the day after tomorrow. Build slowly, and you’ll build well.
Thou shalt mix it the hell up.
Don’t plod through your week mechanically. Keep your body in a constant state of surprise. Mix up your efforts- hard, easy, moderate. Mix up your distances- long, short, medium. Mix up your speeds- fast, slow, average.
Thou shalt run more.
Mileage matters. It isn’t the only thing, and it isn’t everything. But don’t assume that you can get better at doing something by doing less of it. If that were true, I’d be a hell of a violinist, because I haven’t touched a violin in my life. The good news is, it doesn’t take superhuman effort and will. It’s like compound interest. Making small, even tiny increments in volume leads to significant gains over an year or two.
Thou shalt recover.
Sleep is your number one recovery tool. Get as much of it as you possibly can, when you’re training. It’s easier said, I know, what with jobs and family, travel and partying. One rest day, a week. At the very least. Complete rest. No running. No cross- training. No matter how much you want to. Trust me on this. I’ve been overtrained. Not fun.
Thou shalt race in moderation.
Expecting a PR every time you set foot on a course is a sure-fire way of killing everything you love about running. Following a scientific, consistent training program with skip cycles and periodization (read this) is not something you can do with a race every month. Let most races serve as training or fun runs. Choose your battles. Two, maybe three races in a year where you give it everything you got.
Thou shalt read.
Knowledge is power. Running isn’t rocket science, but there’s enough to study. Unless you have a coach (lucky you), teach yourself. Close your mind to nothing. Read books on running. The internet is a great resource for runners. Free training plans are everywhere. Saturate yourself with information. Then, pick and choose what works best for you. Hell, you’re reading this, aren’t you? You can do better.
Thou shalt eat right.
Weight loss for runners is not about vanity. It’s about performance. Getting lean is 70 percent diet and 30 percent exercise. You don’t need to consult a dietician, to weigh your nutrients in 25 gram scoops, to follow the most fashionable diet or to eat the latest fad food. Nowadays, I eat in a community mess that caters very little to individual whims and fancies. I’ve still managed to avoid putting garbage into myself for some years now. If you’re starving yourself, you’re doing it wrong. You need the protein to recover. You need the carbs to burn. Eat well.
Thou shalt not blindly follow stupid-ass ‘commandments’ written by self-obsessed runners.
These are neither universally applicable, nor are they comprehensive. They may help you get faster… and they may not. Trying to be faster is just my way of enjoying running. It certainly doesn’t have to be everyone’s. Do what makes you happy. Nothing is more important than that.
(*Mic drop, walks off stage to thunderous applause)