Start Running Today

Here in Wisconsin, our winter was mild,but it is still cold outside. The temperatures and winds outside don’t make it any more appetizing to think about going outside for a run. However, this doesn’t mean it is too early to start thinking about your 2024 running goals. If you haven’t started running in 2024 or have thought about starting to run – don’t worry, it’s not too late! Start running today!

In this blog, we will discuss some key factors when starting a running program and other variables to ensure that you give yourself as high of a chance for success as possible. If running is something that seems too daunting of a task, this blog is for you as well! I am very new to running within the last 18 months so as of writing this blog I am new to the running community as well. I have learned through continuing education, listening to hours of videos and podcasts, as well as personal experience.

Plan to Run

The first aspect to think about when looking to get into running or even if you are an experienced runner looking to maximize the 2024 calendar year and improve yourself is to plan. One of the biggest causes of injury for any individual, especially the running individual is improper dosing of workouts. This can either be from doing too much volume of miles too soon or even too high of intensity for workouts for an extended period. The first key to success is to look ahead into the future and pick an end date for your training. This can be a soft end – meaning picking a date 6 or 8 months ahead of today’s date to have a goal of running a certain amount of miles or completing a duration of a mile under a certain time.

This allows us to plan out how we are going to achieve this goal. Oftentimes, we make a blanket statement of “ I am going to run a 5k” with no plan or date for the race. As time goes on, life obstacles tend to get in the way of our goals which forces us to the sidelines and we fall short. By specially picking a date in the future this allows for us to properly map out our weekly mileage and workout to help us achieve our goals.

Running for Strength

The second aspect which I believe is one of the most important pieces to running is strength. Yes, the activity of running itself is cardiovascular. The better your cardiovascular system is developed, the longer you can run for or even faster you can run for. However, a critical component of this is leg strength. When we break down the running movement into its parts we spend the majority of our running time only standing on one leg. In the running motion itself, this happens very fast but happens over and over again.

Being strong and stable in our legs allows us to be more powerful and generate increased power output with our bodies at less energy expenditure. Think of this like a hybrid vehicle. The stronger we can become in our legs this allows for our fuel economy to go up. If we can drive 500 miles before needing to fill up with gas compared to having to fill up every 250 miles with decreased leg strength in our bodies we will gladly take the better fuel economy. Strength in our legs allows us to become more efficient with running.

There are a plethora of workouts and specific leg exercises that are geared toward runners that can be found with a 10-second Google search. The reality is: that there is not a single specific exercise that will make or break your running. The most important aspect of becoming stronger is picking a program, and sticking with it for longer than 8 weeks to develop strength. Time and consistency are the biggest factors when leading to strength improvements. For those interested in specific program creation – with my “Certified Physical Preparation Specialist” we can provide this information right here at Freedom Physical Therapy Services!

Make them Easy

The third aspect of building success with running is to have easier workouts. 80% of our workouts should be labeled as “easy runs.” I, along with so many countless other individuals have made the mistake of running way too hard for way too long. Most of our weekly mileage should be done at 60-70% of our heart rate maximum. When we slow down on our funs this allows for increased aerobic capacity over time which goes right along with the fuel example from the previous paragraph. With each easy run we do, we are depositing fuel into our gas tank. The more gas we have put into this tank throughout our training cycle, the more we will have available for our race day.

When we run too hard, we are not adding any gas to the tank and eventually, we are running on fumes. Even though this is listed as the third aspect of this blog I think it is the most crucial and essential to follow. Even after countless hours of continuing education specifically about running where we discuss, hearing others who have completed any duration run I still made this mistake myself for my first distance run. Too often I was running too hard and feeling depleted with every additional run. I cannot stress enough the importance of running slow and easy miles to ensure future success.

Get out there and run

In conclusion, for those who are thinking of starting to run, are beginner runners, or even are experienced runners the 3 variables to ensure long-term success are: planning, utilizing, and enduring a strength program as well as running easier! If anyone is interested in learning more from a running specialist here at Freedom Physical Therapy Services or interested in a strength program made specifically for you, please visit us at Fox Point!

Joe has a passion for treating the overhead athlete and ensuring safe movement patterns for these individuals. He spends his off time coaching and working with baseball athletes through STiKS Baseball Academy in Waukesha. He also coaches the varsity baseball team at Catholic Memorial High School in Waukesha.