I admire those people who say they are going for a “quick run”.
They are those phenomenal runners who stack up personal best after personal best, while barely breaking out in a sweat, who can simultaneously update their Facebook, Twitter and Instagram feeds with professional-grade photos of wildlife, beautiful scenery and gorgeous skies.
They can carry on a conversation without ever being out of breath. And they look so graceful, from the beginning to the end of the run, like gazelles out for a joyful dash through the savannahs.
They inspire me! I love them and I am incredibly jealous of them.
Meanwhile you can find me at the back of the pack, fiddling with something or other, or holding a part of my anatomy that’s complaining, wondering why a 3 kilometer run takes me an hour… or two.
Here they are, my top 10 reasons why going for a quick run is impossible (for me).
Doing stretching exercises before and after a run has always been part of my regimen, but rushing the stretching process is a recipe for disaster. My body gave me hints that I needed to do more.
I found the best way to get all the stretches my body needs and to maintain my flexibility is to do additional exercises whenever I’m relaxing in front of the TV (even in the off season when I’m not running).
That way, I can truly take my time, I can complete the full exercise list carefully and mindfully to my full range of motion, I can challenge myself gently without bouncing, and can do a full, comprehensive round of stretching exercises to keep my body at peak performance for running throughout the season.
9) Preventative maintenance for allergy and asthma
For me, April and May are the worst months for running, but waiting until June is out of the question.
Before I set foot outside of the house and take deep breaths containing the allergens that can make me miserable, my allergy and asthma meds need to be actively pumping through my system.
After the run, my neti pot is my best pal for rinsing out allergens.
8) Utility belt preparation
If I’m running a short distance in my own neighbourhood, I just carry a few essentials: house key, ID and health card. But if the starting point of my run is a favourite park to which I need to drive, the packing process requires some strategic thinking to include car keys and those just-in-case items like auto club card, credit card, maybe a little cash.
But ultimately, I cannot bring the full contents of my “George Costanza” wallet and risk injury by running lopsided or by weighing myself down.
Plus, if I am running longer distances, a water bottle or two is necessary, along with a pack of energy gel, neatly tucked in the compartments of the utility belt.
Then the utility belt needs to be balanced to ensure an even distribution of weight of the add-ons.
7) Picking the playlist
Music is my motivator, but matching the playlist to the mood can be an agonizing process:
Is this a fast run or a slow run? Do I need the “encouragement” playlist? Am I aiming for a personal best or am I just getting the mileage in? Do I feel nostalgic or do I want some new music? Do I want to sing along?
6) Hydration… but not too much
The difference between being properly hydrated and making sloshing noises while running is such a fine line.
5) Eating… but not too much
The difference between having a light but satisfying bite and running with a stitch in one’s side is a very fine line too.
4) Post-run snack planning
If I plan on running 10 km or more, I need a snack for the finish line. If I am running in a location other than home (and on a warm day), this process requires planning, preparation, containers and ice packs.
3) Matching the socks to the shoelaces
I don’t mean matching in the fashion sense, I mean matching the thickness of the running socks with the tension in the shoelaces. If the combinations is too tight, shin splints can result. If the combination is too loose, blisters can result. It’s that Goldilocks “just right” sweet spot in the middle that can take some time to find.
2) Matching the wardrobe to the weather
When it’s sunny and over 15 degrees Celsius, it’s a no-brainer. It’s a t-shirt and shorts and I’m ready to go. But anything below that requires some careful analysis of the projected timeline, the distance, the trajectory (open areas vs tree-lined, sunny vs shady) and of course, the hourly weather forecast.
1) Untangling earphone wires
I long for the day that someone invents earphone wires that are tangle-proof, or that can untangle themselves. What a rotten feeling to be all psyched up, warmed up and stretched for a run, only to be stuck at my front door untangling those fricken wires… and then the running feeling passes. But we must persevere!
I’m sure my neighbours must get a good laugh at my expense in watching me pace back and forth on my driveway, fiddling with my earphones, getting increasingly frustrated, demonstrating the international signs of impatience and exasperation.
When you total it all up, a “quick run” can take me about 3 hours.
But I found out early in my running career that preparation is key.
By having my running clothes washed, ready and in one spot, shoe and sock combinations worked out ahead of time, a few favourite playlists pre-picked and ready, and a daily stretching routine fully in place (even on non-running days), the preparation time for a run is much less of an issue.
In the end, I think a good, healthy run shouldn’t be rushed. It takes the time it takes, to remain safe and injury free. The homework needed to achieve a good running season is always ongoing.
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Sincere thanks for reading!
Have a great day,