The Runner’s Rulebook: A Guide from Your Running Coach
What is the Runner’s Rulebook? Well, it’s a guide from your running coach, that’s me, Coach BW, that teaches you how to keep running fun and pain-free year after year!
First, there’s no doubt that running is one of the world’s most popular sports. Why?
- No major equipment is needed to run
- Running improves both your physical and mental health
- Through running you build strength, and strong bones, as it’s a weight-bearing exercise
- The attractiveness of a “high” euphoric feeling that you get running, especially outdoors, as you fall into a balance between your thoughts, effort, and your natural surroundings
- During times of stress or long workdays, you can turn to running as an outlet. It can provide you with a ‘reset’ that allows you to become a better version of yourself
A Guide Based on Experience
As a runner, an endurance coach, and a physical therapist for the past 14+ years, I created the Runner’s Rulebook based on my experience coaching running at all levels. From beginners in the sport to professional runners.
In addition, I also assess and treat running injuries on a weekly basis, and teach other physical therapists how to do the same.
Now then, the Running Rulebook does not contain hard lines drawn in the sand. But, more of a template that can be revisited as your body evolves over time. Let’s jump into my Top 5 Rules for Runners!
1. Take time each year to understand your body
Taking the time to understand your body as a runner means taking a good look at your physiology and musculoskeletal makeup. Therefore, a review of medical history, injuries, and, a true assessment of your flexibility and strength in all areas of your body pertinent to running.
For example, have you taken a medication or been forced to wear dress shoes that have led to losing some of your ankle and toe mobility? Well, we rely heavily on this mobility for running.
So, a shortening of a person’s ankle dorsiflexion or change in toe extension can be directly linked to foot pain. This pain typically does not improve unless you have a specialist identify what needs to be done. Signing up for our run assessment is a great first step- literally!
Running injuries are typically not acute. But, they gradually evolve over time. Therefore, the impact and stress applied to your joints needs to be balanced with the right exercise.
For me, it may mean stretching a little more on one side versus the other. For you, it could be activating a certain muscle set. Moving through a strength routine. Something to help you better control the forces applied when landing on one leg and absorbing shock.
2. Manage your energy levels to become your best self
Next, proper energy management is essential when choosing what time of day you plan to run to keep it fun and pain-free. Each run should complement your energy levels, allowing you to feel a sense of achievement and balance.
As a runner and running coach, when I’ve gone for a run during a time when my energy levels were exhausted, it’s just junk miles. Wondering what I mean by this? Well, there are mixed reviews on what junk miles actually are, and whether they worth having in your running training plan. As a running coach, I’d view junk miles as days when your running on empty. Where each step feels heavier than the last. Overall, you feel clunky and out of any sense of natural rhythm.
Therefore, understanding where and when you are naturally inclined to harness energy is extremely beneficial for the success of your run training plan. How do you determine when and where to fit in your run?
Ask yourself these questions:
- Do you wake up with energy and need to waste a bit to feel productive?
- Do you get energized throughout the day interacting with people?
- Are you someone that feels low on energy regardless of the time of day? Do you always need motivation to get outside and run?
3. Understand what style of runner you are
Did you know that your running form or technique matters? Yes, there are direct links to the mechanics of how you run that influences how long your body will last in the sport. A study published in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise provides robust evidence that technique explains a substantial proportion of the variance in your ‘running economy’ and performance.
Do you know what type of runner you are?
Ask yourself, do you:
- Land on the balls of your feet the majority of the time?
- Have weak ankles or fallen arches?
- Have a long stride?
- Land on the heel of your foot every time despite whether you’re going uphill or downhill?
By identifying and addressing some of these issues, you can actually change your running form. And a change in your running form could actually save you a lot of time and money- helping to avoid medical expenses from injury and the purchase of unnessary equipment (shoes, braces, orthotics).
Need help identifying what type of runner you are? Make an appointment for a run assessment! One of our specialists will identify exactly what style of runner you are, and they can help you identify form issues that could lead to energy leaks costing you efficiency.
Why get a run assessment? Well, having someone assess your natural style will prove extremely beneficial when it comes to becoming a more efficient runner. What do I mean by that? Efficiency equals faster speed, fewer impact forces on your body and less energy leaked that limits your performance.
4. Set goals that make sense for what kind of runner you want to be
As a running coach, I see it all the time. Runners pick their races based on the training partners they’ve chosen. While I’m all about having people alongside you to motivate you towards your goal, don’t become a marathoner because your friends do. Or, because it’s often seen as the pinnacle of the sport.
Think about why you enjoy running. Then, set at least one or two races on your calendar that are your ‘A’ races. These races should speak to the very reason you’ve taken up the sport!
How do you determine what kind of runner you want to be? Ask yourself if you:
- Crave the hills?
- Enjoy the environment found on trails or gravel roads?
- Love pushing the pace on a track?
- Need just 30 minutes of solitude to feel recharged?
- Want to achieve a personal best in a 5k/10k?
As a running coach, I call these your soul-feeding workouts. Fit one into each week to recharge.
For me, this might be intervals on the track. For you, it may be a walk/run combo in the woods to re-center and focus.
5. Plan your workouts in advance and have someone hold you accountable
I’m not the most knowledgeable running coach in the world. However, I see such success with my endurance athletes because I get to know them. And, I help them to set realistic and fun goals that fuel them as human beings.
So, I love coaching and training runners of all ages and abilities. In my experience, there are some of you who will need a 5-day adventure running race to feel fulfilled, while others only need a 5k.
How to Become Accountable
Bite-sized goal setting coupled with reality checks on performance is what allows a runner to progress. Then, it all comes down to accountability.
For you, accountability may come through writing in a journal or reporting progress over the phone to a running coach each week. Or, it could be logging miles on Strava, GarminConnect, Suunto, or sharing via a social media post to allow friends and family to cheer you along.
Either way, track what you do week-to-week. Set goals for the year and constantly evaluate your progress towards meeting those goals. This will lead to long-term success.
Final Thoughts from Your Run Coach
Running should never feel as though it’s a chore. Something that you have to check off the list each day. Therefore, pay attention to my top 5 rules. This will allow you to feel fueled and avoid burnout year after year.
It’s a blessing to be able to run! So, if you place emphasis each year on evolving your body alongside your goals in the sport, you’ll be able to look back with a smile and embrace the infinite amount of small steps it took to get you where you are.
Want to get started with me as your run coach? Awesome! The first step is to make an appointment for a run assessment.
Personally, I want to run into my 90s, and I never lose the euphoria I get while trail running! I don’t need the distances to get longer and longer, I just need the views with each route I choose to be worth the challenge.