Running Tips from a Running Cynic

But seriously. Running is the bane of my existence. I drink the running hatorade big time. I actively despise it with every fiber of my being. I genuinely do not understand how people voluntarily run any farther than 3 miles and actually enjoy it. "Runners high" they say. Yeah - never experienced it.  In my pitiful excuse of a weekly run, which rarely exceeds 2.5-3 miles, my stream of consciousness usually entails a solid thirty minutes of various four letter words from the time I leave to the time I'm back in my driveway. 

Now, I'm not saying running is stupid nor do I think people who enjoy running are stupid. In fact, I'm thoroughly impressed by people who can run for longer than thirty minutes with a smile on their face...meanwhile I look like grumpy cat the whole time and when my Andre the Giant sized feet stomp down I feel like the earth shakes a little ("graceful" is not a term often used to describe me in any situation). 

I'm not sure where this deep hatred of running comes from, because I use to have to do plenty of it - particularly in off season training for college field hockey. We'd have a weekly 4-5 mile run and a weekly 3ish mile boot camp run. You'd think I would have adjusted, but I detested it just as much on my last run as I did on my very first one as a freshman. Ironically, in a field hockey game, the average player ends up running several miles (probably even more in practice); however, this never phased me as I was distracted by the weapon - err, I mean field hockey stick - I was running around trying to crush bones and dreams with.

At any rate, regardless of the fact that my true love affair is with weight lifting/interval training and regardless of the fact that I'd prefer to watch some variety of Real Housewives with my hand stuck in a jar of boy scouts caramel popcorn than go running, I try to greet the pavement once a week. Typically, my weekly workout schedule is comprised of 4-5 strength and conditioning based interval workouts, one run and one rest day. I like to filter in a day of running each week for several reasons. Even though I hate the act of running itself, A) I think it's good for the soul to spend some time outside...f*** the treadmill, B) I consider cardio a necessary evil, C) as much as I hate it, going for an easy 30 minute run serves as a nice form of active recovery from my heavy strength days and D) the big dumb smile on my dumpster dog's face alone makes it worth it. 

Now comes the part of the post that might possibly add some value to those of you who may also happen to be in the "running makes me want to die" boat, or for those of you who far prefer strength training or HIIT. Going on a run - even if just for 30 minutes - can just be so boring sometimes...especially if you're the type of person that likes to go hard and heavy in the gym. If this is you, I have some basic running tips that might make what you may otherwise consider a cruel and unusual self-inflicting punishment more fun. I like to implement some of these myself when just the thought of a long run (keep in mind 3 is long for me) bores me to tears. If you love distance runs and are happy as is, disregard my nonsense and keep doing your thing...I may not understand you, but dammit I respect you!

  1. Turn parts of your run into HIIT. You'll still get your cardio on while getting your fill of shorter, HIIT-like bursts of energy and all out maximum effort. If you're embarking on a 2-3 mile route, take the latter half of your run and alternate sprinting and walking between consistent markers (lamp posts, mailboxes, etc.). I usually like to do this in the last 10-15 minutes of my run. When you are sprinting, make sure it's an all out effort. When it's time to jog (...or walk in my case), take your time and enjoy the recovery before the next sprint. 
  2. Screw "part of the run" - make the whole thing HIIT! Why wait until the latter half of your route to start interval running? Scope out a healthy 1-2 mile loop (or whatever distance you are comfortable with) and sprint/walk every other lamp post or mail box the whole time!
  3. Tabata. Why go anywhere? Seriously though...you don't need to leave your neighborhood to get a good run in. You can do this right outside your house (or over the course of your favorite running route if you feel so inclined). Basically, you're working hard for 20 seconds and resting for 10 seconds - 8 times through. Sprint, walk, sprint, walk, sprint, walk, etc. (feel free to lightly jog in lieu of the walking portion if you're up for it). After 8x, give yourself a 2-3 minute break (jog, walk, stand still...whatever) and repeat. Try and cycle through this little interval 3-5 times.
  4. The hills have eyes. Ok, creepy - I hope they don't. Have you seen that movie? Awful. Anyways, finding a nearby hill is a great way to run and whoop your own interval-loving ass in a few minutes. What do you do? You guessed it...run up to the top of the hill as fast as you can. Slowly walk or jog back down. Repeat anywhere from 8-15 times, depending on the length/steepness of the hill.
  5. Design your own boot camp run. Pick 5-6 parts of your run to stop and do something OTHER than running. It will help break up the run and will put a little extra oomph into your sweat session. Examples: 10-20 burpees, 3 minute abs (ideally if there is a good grassy area you can stop off on), hill sprints, tabata squats, etc. Options are endless here.