Running: My Initial Starts and Stops

Getting into running is one of the most difficult things I've ever done. It's right up there with trying to quit smoking. It's also one of the greatest things I've ever done. Running has a very strange addictive quality. There's some serious endorphins being released and it energizes me like nothing else. Once I was into my second and third weeks, I found it easier to make running a permanent fixture in my schedule. However, I fell off the wagon and now must climb back on.

For all of June I was on the injured reserve list. I strained my groin muscle while running and it hurt extra bad because it was stupid-induced. It happened Memorial Day weekend. I enjoyed some party beverages one day and slept in the next. The next day I hopped out of bed, did a quick 5-minute walk and then ran - no stretching, no hydration before, nothing smart.
I returned home invigorated and decided that I had enough energy for a bike ride; hangover be damned! That day I pushed my body when I should have slowed down, realized something wasn't right and rested. The entire work week following Memorial Day weekend I hobbled from destination to destination. The pain on the inside of my leg nagged me for weeks.
This isn't my first running injury. I'm an amateur and it shows. I started running in early April and I'm already falling apart. A week into my program, my childhood nightmare returned: shin splints. I had to sit out a few days while my shins healed; for the first time they actually swelled. I corrected the problem by running more on grass rather than pounding on cement. My legs eventually got used to it and I could run on whichever I fancied. I then strained a muscle and didn't exercise for over a month. Lame.
There is hope for me though. My guide through this world of running has been Rough Guide to Running. When the book was ready for me at the library, someone left me a cute note that said: "Running is Rough!" The book is a great resource and I highly recommend it for anyone that's looking to pick up running. A couple things I learned:
  • Your first run will be your worst. Don't get discouraged.
  • Spend some good money on good shoes. Go to a store specifically for runners so that the salesperson is knowledgeable about what shoe will fit your routine best.
  • Warm-up should last about 20 minutes, otherwise, you can end up like me with a stupid-induced groin strain.
  • Stretch after you warm up. DO NOT stretch cold muscles, as this can also lead to stupid-induced strains or pulls.
  • Drink water about an hour BEFORE you run so you don't dehydrate. Drinking it an hour before you go out will help prevent cramps.
  • Decide what kind of running path you want. Cement is really tough on the joints (and shins!), while treadmill running (not even considered running by real runners) burns significantly fewer calories and can even mess up your stride for actual running.
Further, this book provides you with great start up charts. The first phase is great for beginners. It starts you off doing a nice mix of running and walking and it also gets you used to timing yourself. It gradually has you running for longer periods over four weeks. The next phase is for folks that can already run 15 minutes at a time or have completed the first phase.
As far as my running goes, right now I'm not. I'm back on the bicycle and doing yoga again, but I'm going to save running until I get a nice, proper pair of running shoes. I'm not at all interested in discovering the variety of other running injuries out there.

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