Here are some of our slightly weird but really easy tips for running without pain or total boredom. Maybe we're not the first to give some of these tips, but they're still interesting and entertaining. And they work. Believe it or not, we once hated running.
(1) PAIN IS (ALMOST) ALL MENTAL
A couple months ago, there was a popular post in North Brooklyn Runnerstitled "Pineapple Juice, Ginger & Coconut Water", about using said ingredients in lieu of NSAID's and other running pain management strategies. We posted something like this about my MIND pain-healing strategy:
"...I healed a super sharp 'never had before' knee pain I got at mile 13 of the Finger Lakes 50K 2013 by using my mind. Not kidding. I thought I would drop out, the pain went on for miles, but I tried this "mind thing" and it worked! (I even have a witness - I was running with Mishka Shubaly for part of it). Pain disappeared after about 15 minutes of intense mind focus, I finished great, I think I placed in top third females. I did the same thing again during North Face Endurance Challenge 50K at Bear Mountain this May.I was undertrained, tired, in tons of pain, and it was muddy and wet from heavy rain. (Many runners DNF'd that race). Again, I finished great, and beat my time from the previous year".
I focused my mind, listened to only the breath, and shifted the energy. A running meditation, really. Continuously repeat healing and running "mantras" in your mind. ("My knee feels great!" "Strong, Fast, Easy, Smooth" "My legs are full of energy!") This is a form of a meditation...it moves the painful feelings away using the mind and positive thoughts (notice mantras don't use "no", "not" or any other negative words...only positive words work). Remember, the brain is what causes pain, not anything else. So if we can master our minds, we can master our bodies and anything else. Sounds cray but it really works and it's f'ing cool to do! The mind-body connection, our brain's power, and the use of our energy is really fascinating -- and these connections come so alive through running. There's a lot of research happening around these areas, even this whole institute at Harvard. We've retold our running mind-body connection story to countless of runners and anyone who's interested. Heck, we named ourselves "OnlyAtoms" for a reason.
For more about running with the breath and mind, we love Chi Runningand recommend it to everyone. The book Full Catastrophe Living also comes highly recommended for dealing with injuries, pain, etc. And we can give countless books for learning more about meditation, running and the mind-body connecton. But best is to just spend time feeling your body and listening to your breath!
(2) RUN...BUT NOT TOO MUCH
Yes, of course you do need to get out and run to run. But many believe running too much can not only cause injury, but bore you and/or burn you out. Adding in a mix of fun cross-training is the answer to both. The "RUN LESS, RUN FASTER FIRST Training Program" is what first got us started on this "less is more" running thing. It made sense, especially after getting a serious injury years ago. We now only run about 3x a week -- Tempo Run, Long Run, and (gasp!) Speed Workout. But, we do 3-4 other workouts a week, some hard, some light: weight training,core workouts, plyometrics, cardio kickboxing class with Amira, bike, yoga, spin class, Pilates (with Elgin), the climbing machine with actual stairs. We've met many others who train like this too: Charlie O'Donnell says he didn't really train for marathons, he just bikes everywhere, kayaks, does yoga, plays softball, street hockey, even shuffleboard. Seems to work, he's fast.
(3) JUST HAVE FUN
People tell us they get bored running, they need to listen to music while running, they go crazy running after 15 minutes, etc. They key is to make running fun, not boring, not painful, not work. (We personally haven't worn headphones running in over 6 years). Here's how to make and keep running fun:
First, join a running group -- there are many everywhere! We have made some amazing friends, and best friends, from running groups. OR, take a "class" -- yes, a class. New York Road Runners (NYRR), Jack Rabbit, and many other local running stores where you live have groups/classes. We met one of our best friends in NYRR's running class. Plus, if you pay for a training group, you'll actually go to it. Here's a handy list of NYC running groups, coaches and training resources.
Remember, try starting your days even with super short runs. Even 10 minutes is better than nothing. Keep records of how the rest of your days go. These results alone will convince you to keep running (hint, you'll feel great).
Finally, don't take this stuff so seriously! Have fun and enjoy it. Go to brunch or for a drink with running friends after you run, that's the best part, right?! Run eating pizza. Run drinking booze. Run from the law. (Uh, maybe don't...)