Perseverance.  Focus.  Endurance.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, (2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.)
        Hebrews 12:1-2
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Blog Archives - 2012
The Newbie Guide

New to running? That certainly isn't easy. The whole feat of getting into a regular running schedule, increasing distance, getting faster, and staying motivated is no easy task. When I first started running, I just did each mile with abandon, no particular motive, just to get out and be alone. I wish people still went out and ran just because. That's the best reason; because you enjoy it. There are very few people that I know of who run 'just because'. Even if you're a runner that's just getting back into the swing of things after a long break, you'll want to take note of this post, even seasoned runners could benefit from a few pointers here and there. We'll start from the bottom up....shall we?

Feet: These are probably the most crucial part when it comes to running. If you don't have a quality pair of kicks, it seriously affects the way you run. There are different kinds of running shoes for everyone. Some are more cushioned and have a lot of support, while others are minimalist shoes. Your feet take in so much force while you run, with all your weight pounding into them with each step, so it's important to keep in check the way you're running. You want to take quick steps, instead on slower ones that last longer, so you have less weight on your feet per step. You're also gonna want to keep from pounding your feet relentlessly into the ground, keep it soft, kinda like you're running on eggshells (my cross country coach gets the credit for that).

This is something I've always struggled with. I have knee issues myself, and let me tell you, it sucks! Your knees, like your feet, take a lot of the brunt of the force while running. Did you know, each time your foot makes contact with the ground equals about two to four times your body weight traveling downwards, hitting your knees with the full impact? That's kind of scary. A way to prevent any problems with that is to let the ligaments and tendons in your knees adapt to the forces they must withstand during a run. You can do this by increasing your run time in small increments, so while your muscles develop, your knees can catch up and develop as well to become stronger in the long run.

Quadriceps: Being both the largest and strongest muscle group in your body makes your quads super super important. After all, they're the ones controlling your femur, you know, the bone that's basically harder than concrete? It's important to keep your quads loose. Trust me, tight and sore quads feel almost as bad as tight and sore hamstrings. Ouch. BUT, you should stretch them AFTER your run. This helps them to relax so they don't hurt and tighten up later. Just do the basic quad stretch, bringing your heel up to your butt, that's the motion. Hold it for about 15 seconds, on each leg, alternating about 4 times.

Hamstrings: Your hammies play a big role in running. They help flex and support your knees, as well as absorbing impact and helping you lift your feet. If you have weak hamstrings, you'll have weak knees, since your hammies won't be able to help with the pulling motion as you pick your leg up while running. Ever been in a ridiculously long car ride and when you got out, the back of your legs cramped up? That's because sitting for a long period of time makes them tight. You have to be careful not to pull them when they're like this. It's really painful. It helps to do leg-kicks. I personally like calling them the zombie. You basically kick out your leg and reach out your arm, touching the top of your shoe....like a zombie!

Calves/Shins: Here's a common problem with beginners--shinsplints. I personally haven't had too much trouble with those, but I hear a bunch of complaints about them. They are the result of overuse or a sudden increase in distance or workout intensity. This then causes the muscles of the lower leg to become inflamed, thus, the shinsplints. What helps? Keeping your calves nice and loose. Warm up those ankle muscles, reducing strain on your calves. Just rotate your ankle for 30 seconds or write out the alphabet with your foot, I always do that, and haven't had any problems. It also helps to do heel-toe steps, it's like exaggerating your walking, walk with your toes pulled up, and then pull your heel up as your foot touches the ground.

That's enough for one post. Next, I'll give you the scoop on the butt and up.

Happy Trails!

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