if you had known me in high school, you probably would have described me as the loner geek classical music girl who ran on the cross country team. i “starred” at counties my junior year, which means i came in the top seven (i was seventh) in the women’s division during the county meet. everything was pretty much downhill from there, not an easy run but a sort of degenerate spiral of non-achievement as far as running was concerned. what with the veritable fatblogging fiesta going on, (major shout outs to J-Dawg, Scott, and C.K.), i think it’s high time i share a few tips with all those who think running is hellish and a really awful way to get fit. [let me just take a second here to say that: a. i do not have any license to practice sports science, b. i have never coached an individual in any sport, c. nor do i guarantee you won’t hurt yourself, proceed at your own risk]
that said, i have been running for a long time (since i was 11 or 12), and when i started out i was the slowest on my junior high team, and since then i managed to run in the “point counting” part of my team for five years. besides all of those speed things, what i love about running is the zen aspect, you get out there, you feel crappy, your day isn’t going well, a great pair of shoes puts a spring back in your step and you groggily sneak your way to your favorite place to run. the pavement or the dirt fuels your pace and you start to forget the less savory thoughts you were thinking minutes earlier. you zone out and start to forget the people staring at you and you really don’t give a flying freak what that guy in the suit thinks about your jiggly thighs. the hill that you make your way up forces you to concentrate on your stride — you keep your foot fall length consistent even as the slope veers quickly from molehill to mountain. you reach the top too soon and realize you completely lost track of time and you concentrate on your breathing as you start the descent. a river of relief flows over you and you hit the running zone.
ok wait wait wait, rewind, before that fairytale of a run, there are a few preliminaries to keep in mind. first of all, shoes are your friend. i know it sounds basic, but if you want to enjoy running, your feet and knees and shins need to enjoy running as well. my number one tip about running shoes? you never need to break in a pair of running shoes. in other words, a pair of running shoes should be comfortable from the first moment you try them on in the store, if not then they aren’t for you. if you are in doubt, many reputable running stores (not huge sports shoe outlets, a dedicated running store) have free fitting services whereby the specialist will find out if you pronate, supinate, have a wide foot, your general stride, and suggest some shoes that will be best for you. if you are nervous, go to more than one of these places and get a second opinion. secondly, just because the shoe is more expensive (or a more palatable color) does not make it a better shoe for you. trust the fit not the appearance nor the brand name. if you do find a brand that consistently works for you, then that’s fine, but don’t just go for the priciest pair on the rack thinking they will be the most comfortable to run in. thirdly, i always grab running shoes with removable insoles (the foam insert inside the shoe) that aren’t glued down. this is for multiple reasons, first it will make adding custom foam under the insert possible (which i do in a DIY fashion because otherwise my toes curl when i run). secondly it will allow you to more easily wash your shoes with the inserts separated in a washing machine (note that laundering running shoes should only be done on a cold gentle cycle, they should always be air dried and washing shoes repeatedly will cause the foam and rubber to wear out more quickly).
more in the next installment of running with fabienne. until then, get outside and go for a run.
[pictured above is shell beach in inverness, california. running the johnstone trail down to this beach in the early morning is in my top five favorite runs of all time.]