Beginning to run is challenging on several levels.  It has helped me to sort them into categories so I have a feeling of where I am headed (and where I came from). Do remember that no matter how difficult getting into shape may seem, it is minor compared to the joy and peace which running will bring to your life. That is guaranteed. There are only four challenges and they are these: wind, muscle, fuel and mind. They will develop in order. So from the very beginning you will see improvement and after several months you will continue to enjoy improvement.

Wind

When you start running, the first hurdle is your wind.  Your lungs will scream Quit!  And you will, you won’t have a choice.  Running even 100 meters may be painful.  You can’t imagine doing twice that, let alone 50 times that for a 5K.

Yet, this early hurdle is wonderful proof of how running works in your favor.  In less than a month, likely in just a couple of weeks, your wind will become strong and no longer will it limit how far you run.   

You can speed the process of wind development by sprinting in short bursts, then trotting slowly, then sprinting again, then slowly, etc, as many times as you can.  The sprints could be 20 meters or 200.  It is the pushing against your wind limit (pushing into anaerobic functioning) which expands your oxygen carrying capacity.

So, your first success will be early and dramatic. 

Muscle

Once lungs allow you the freedom of long running, the next hurdle is muscle.  Normally used muscles tire and stop you until you develop new ones, the slow twitch type.  This just takes some work.  Your muscles will build themselves with longer runs.  You will see them form and be proud.  But it takes time.  When you run longer than before, you will be sore. 

That is development. 

Stay with it.

Fuel

For shorter runs like Not Since Moses, this is not an issue.  But in case our run inspires you to longer distance running, then storing and releasing fuel is key to a joyous experience.  Personally, in long runs, over an hour and a half, I need to take in fuel (e.g. Powerbars) often.  I can’t explain why that is, no runner I know seems to need as much constant fuel as I do.   In a marathon for example, after about an hour and a half, I start fuel, taking some each 20 to 30 minutes.  It is the difference for me between a great mood and despair.  You will find out how much fuel you can load well before the run and how much if any you need during a long run.  Fluid of course is important for everyone.  On practice runs figure out what fluid works for you and how often (water alone or electrolytes/sugars).

Mind

For Not Since Moses, the normal runner’s discipline of knowing how to tolerate suffering isn’t needed (by the way, for me, what works in despair management is to go into the pain, don’t ignore it, enter inside it as if it were the house of a well known neighbor).

But fortunately Not Since Moses is not about pain.  It is a spiritual run.  It is about absorbing fully the joy and beauty of each step, not blocking the pain of each step.

So . . .

You are doing something important, for yourself.  Dig into it.  When training, go far, further than you thought you could do.  And because you did, on the ocean’s bottom at Not Since Moses, alongside cliffs and islands, on sand and mud and rocks, you can just cruise, blissfully.

Odds & Ends

  1. Do not cut corners, go the whole way because cracks formed by cheating take forever to heal.

  2. If pain occurs, run through it unless clearly you can’t (personal view, not medical).

  3. After getting in shape, do not fix a final distance for your longer runs, just an easy minimum distance so on those occasional days when you seem to be able to run forever you stretch your distance easily and beyond what you might have set as your goal.

  4. Finish every run with a sprint, even if it can only be 5 or 10 meters; it leaves the right memory and shows the Beast you won after all.