Endurance Running Survival Tips for Non-Runners By Brent Kocal – Founder of Human Octane/CrossFitter Confession time. I really don’t like to run. Not for long distances anyway. Give me a 400m, 800m or 1 mile and I’m going to be just fine, especially if you break that up some clean and jerks. Give me 10 miles with over 4,000 feet of elevation gain and … let’s just say you’re not getting a Christmas card from me this year. The thing is, I have to run because I look at as part of my job as the founder of an apparel company that makes gear with unique features that work really well for obstacle course racing (“OCR” for the cool kids). It really helps for me to personally be able to test our prototypes and understand what our customers are going through who use our gear for OCR and I like the races when I do them. But, doing them requires training, which requires a TON of running.
I’m now at the point where I’m putting in between 18 and 20 miles per week which I’ve been able to do by using these five tips: 1. Create a distraction – a long WOD in CrossFit is 24 minutes and it’s usually full of a variety of movements. You don’t have time to think about how much you’re suffering. You also have a ton of people suffering around you, so you get into the group mentality: if they can do it, you can do it. Endurance running is different. You might be out on a trail for over two hours on a long run by yourself doing the same motion the whole time. This can be boring AF unless you create a distraction for yourself. My go to is podcasts. Listening to songs can amp you up for a short period of time, but no matter how many of your jams you put on a play list, there’s just no way you can stay pumped up for two hours or more. Podcasts make it interesting and make the time go by fast. Here are links to a couple of my favorites: a. https://www.gimletmedia.com/crimetown b. http://podcasts.joerogan.net/ c. https://www.gimletmedia.com/mogul
2. Come up with a coping strategy – Long runs are notorious for causing mental havoc. There’s too much time without a lot going on, which opens the door to questioning why the hell you’re doing it in the first place. There will also be times where you want to stop running and start walking no matter how fit you are. To combat those times, you have to come up with a mental coping strategy before you go out on your run. For me, that’s usually some positive phrase that I’ll repeat aloud when the going gets rough. Last weekend I kept telling myself “This is easy! I got this!” over and over gain on a 10-mile run. That actually made it feel easier. Don’t believe positive self-talk works? Try the opposite then. Constantly tell yourself you suck at running and this is the hardest thing you’ve ever done during a 10-mile run. Let me know how that one goes. 3. Get your nutrition on point – You do burn a lot of active calories when you run. I’m 6’1”, 182 pounds and have a VO2 Max of 54. I got my active metabolic burn rate tested and it turns out I’m burning about 750 calories per hour when my heart rate is around 135 bpm (which is in the right range for endurance running). If I’m out there for two hours, I’ve got to put some calories in or I’m going to zonk on my run. I recommend something that’s easy to carry and easy to eat while you’re in motion. Here are links to two of my favorites: a. http://www.clifbar.com/products/clif/bloks-energy-chews/tropical-punch-flavor b. https://guenergy.com/ 4. Pay Attention to Technique – We do skill workouts in CrossFit all the time to get better at our technique for a variety of movements. Getting better makes you more efficient in the WOD. Most people don’t look at this way, but running is a skill! You become more efficient if you learn to do it right, which makes the run that much easier. I could go on for days about proper running form (and am sure I will in a future blog), but for today, I’ll stick with the key points: a. Even though the heel of your shoe looks super cushioned, it’s not the place you should hit the ground because it will send a shock straight up your shin to your knee thousands of times per mile. Instead, think about landing on the ball of your foot. You’ll actually end up landing on your mid-foot if you think of it that way, which is right where the experts say you should land. b. Keep your eyes focused about 15 feet in front of you. That’s going to make your body lean forward a bit which is the correct running form. That forward lean is also going to help you avoid hitting the ground with your heal first.
5. Gear Up – As a CrossFitter, I LOVE gear. $75 jump rope? Sign me up! Just like it’s important to have the right shoes, grips, knee sleeves, etc. for a WOD, it’s important you have the right gear for a long run. Gear won’t make you a better athlete or runner. You could get away with wearing your Nano’s and shorts, but having the right gear can make sure the only thing that limits you is your fitness level. Here are my go to’s for long runs: a. https://www.saucony.com/en/koa-tr/29169M.html?dwvar_29169M_color=S20390-35#cgid=mens-running-trail-running&start=1 b. https://humanoctane.com/men-s-elite-compression-shorts-black-blue.html c. https://www.salomon.com/int/product/s-lab-sense-ultra-5-set.html?article=401699 Like I said, I don’t love running. If you don’t either, consider taking the five easy steps I’ve laid out here and hit the ground running. See what I did there?