I’ve been running, on and off, for about five years. I usually get so excited by the process of running and the freedom it entails, that I completely overdo it, ending up injury-ridden. But this time it has to be different. Once I realized just how much I relied on running for maintaining my sanity, I decided I had to be in it for the long haul.
Below is how I have tried (and am still trying, as trust me, it’s a work in progress) to make running sustainable for myself.
1. Sticking to low mileage
Some weeks I get to the end of my long run and feel like I could go on forever. And moreover, I really want to. But I’m erring on the side of caution right now. I’m not sticking hard and fast to the 10% rule, but I’m definitely not overdoing it.
2. Rest Days and Sleep
I’m a night owl by nature, and I can happily stay up late without even noticing. I’m often sleep-deprived by the end of my working week and in need of a serious lie-in on Saturday morning. But now, I’m honoring my rest days, getting adequate sleep and even taking naps after longer weekend runs. (I also have kittens to snuggle with, which helps.)
3. Eating well; protein, calcium and magnesium!
When I started taking my running much more seriously earlier on this year, I underestimated just how much I would need to eat to fuel my habit. I was living off take-out; I was abroad and under stress: long story short, I wasn’t eating well. Now, topping my list of priorities are protein (for muscle growth), magnesium (for muscle recovery), calcium (for good strong dense bones!) and healthy fats. There is no way I’m letting myself under-perform or get injured just from lack of proper nutrition. Plus, PBJ sandwiches and cheese on toast are the bomb.
4. Foam rolling
I hate it, but it has to be done. I noticed increased recovery time after long and painful runs, so I’m sticking with it. I look like a crazy person rolling around in front of the TV, and my mother has asked on multiple occasions why on earth I would regularly do something that causes me so much discomfort. The answer? It’s worth it!
5. Preventative sports massage
I had my very first Deep Tissue Massage this week. It was soothing in a jaw-clenched-to-not-scream kind of way. However I’m already seeing benefits. My muscles are feeling looser; I’m more aware of instabilities and imbalances, and I got to pretend I was a real athlete!
6. Recovery runs
I’ve now done two recovery runs, defined (for me) as Heart Rate Zone 2. They are very boring. My heart rate constantly creeps up on me. I am slower and less elegant than a donkey wading through cookie batter. I feel like everyone, runner or not, is judging me as a shuffle past. But they always leave me with plenty more in the tank for the next day, and that’s kind of the point.
7. Yoga and Stretching
I’ve always been relatively flexible from my childhood years spent dancing; it’s for precisely this reason that I often neglect stretching after runs. I mean, as long as I can touch my toes with ease, that’s fine, right? Wrong. I was getting injured all over the place; everything was tight and knotty. Yoga with Adrienne has shown me the error of my ways; I barely got so much as a twinge when I was religiously following her 30 Day Program alongside my training runs. Plus, she’s an absolute babe.
8. Strength Training
When I lost some weight earlier this year, I also lost my rather sizeable booty and all the strength that went with it. As a result I’m now more susceptible to injury. Now, however, I’m making a conscious effort to squeeze strength training into my routine, whether that be a weighted leg day, or body weight training after a run. All about those #bootygainz.
9. Listening to my body
This is by far the hardest part for me! Even at 10 years old, when I was struck down with severe achilles tendonitis, I just couldn’t take it easy. As a last resort, my doctor decided to physically immobilize me by putting my leg in a cast for 4 weeks. Not fun. I’ve always stupidly and stubbornly pushed through the pain, regardless of the long-term harm I risk. This time around, as hard as it may be, I’m trying to listen to the cues my body is giving to me.
10. Enjoying the process!
I run to feel good. That’s the short and sweet of it. I run to discover what my body is capable of, and I’m not sacrificing that for anything.
Are you recovering from a recent injury? How do you make running sustainable for yourself?