The other day as I stepped into the mud room after returning from a long day at the studio, I heard something really unusual. It was such a rare sound, that I actually had to pinch myself. Was it real? Could it really be? And yet, I kept hearing it. I didn't want to make any noise and possibly end the sounds of peace and harmony, so I slipped off my shoes and in socked feet gingerly reached for my camera phone. Like a panther stalking it's prey, I crouched and stealthily maneuvered around the island in the middle of the kitchen. I snuck up on the source of harmonic sound that was not unlike what the ancient Greek sailors must of heard when lured by the sirens with their enchanting music and voices. I was awe struck.
There, seated at the kitchen table, were my 10-year-old daughter and 15-year-old daughter working together on some kind of art project. Dumbstruck, I heard my older daughter say, "That's great. You're doing that much better than I could do." Followed by my youngest's reply, "Thanks, it's not that hard, you just have to be patient."
I snapped a picture to preserve this monumental moment. Being 5 years apart, and the older one just recently emerging from the demonic possession phase of 13- and 14-year-old girls, peace and harmony between the two is rare at best. Oh they love each other and if the youngest is the least bit bullied by a classmate, the older one is there in a heartbeat to protect and stand up for her little sister, but the day-to-day co-habitation has often been a little rocky.
You know running is a bit like the love/hate relationship of sibling love. And it's not much unlike what my daughter said about that art project, " It's not hard, you just have to be patient." I've seen both my daughters have the patience of Job with other friends and family, but with each other, the fuse can be a bit short.
Runners, especially new runners can often be impatient with results. They see other runners running with ease and want to be just like that. Kind of like wanting to be just like big sister. The thing is they haven't realized all that "big sister" has gone through to get to where she's at. On the flip side, sometimes experienced runners can forget what it took to get to their current level of running and may have unrealistic expectations for someone just starting out.
New runners need to realize that it takes about 4-6 weeks to acclimate to a particular distance and/or intensity. So, while they may be able to run 3 miles, it may take 4 to 6 weeks of running 3 miles before that 3-mile run becomes an easy run. Can you run further during that 4-6 weeks? Sure! But just remember that in that 5th week when you may be running a 4 or 5-miler, the first 2 or 3 miles may feel good, but the last 1 or 2 miles may tug at you. Why? Because you've run past what you're body's acclimated to. But, keep at it and in a few weeks, that same 4th or 5th mile that tugged at you will feel good and it will be the 6th or 7th mile in your run that will be tugging at you.
Another good rule of thumb for new runners is not to increase the overall weekly mileage by more than 10%. So if you've run a total of 15 miles one week, the next week, try not to increase the total mileage by more than 1.5 -2 miles. Making small increases in your weekly mileage will help reduce the chance of injury.
One of the biggest mistakes new runners often make is falling victim to the "feel-good syndrome." The feel-good syndrome occurs when you're out on a run and your at 5-miles (to which you've acclimated to) and you feel so good that you run an extra mile. (That's fine.) But then you add a 7th mile. (Probably okay.) But it doesn't stop there. Before you know it, you're at mile 10. Doubling your mileage (even if you feel good) can really tax the body and set you back by taking longer to recover the next few days. Just because "Big Sister" ran a 10-miler doesn't mean you're ready for it yet. Remember that she worked her way up to 10 miles too. She didnt' just start out running a 10-miler.
Whether you're brand new to running or training for your 10th marathon, remember what my wise 10-year-old told her big sister, "It's not that hard, you just have to be patient."
If you're in the Greensboro, NC area and thinking about running for the first time, I'd love to have you join my next beginning running group. The 12-week program begins on January 11th. For more details [click here.]