Running

Why

When you run, you expend a lot of energy. Your body responds by adapting to expend more energy. Which results in everything you do feeling easier.

Also, it's a lot like unlocking achievements in a game. Particularly doing Couch to 5k. Except those achievements actually make you better at life.

It seems to help a lot of people be happier. "Just run, and everything will be okay."

Starting

My personal thoughts:

Almost everyone recommends the Cool Running Couch to 5k plan. It's great, and helps a lot of people, but I worry that it doesn't start slow enough for people who are, for example, substantially obese. Because it doesn't start with just walking. So this Conservative Couch to 5K Program may be better.

Injuries

"Success in running is an injury-prevention game." - Anton Krupicka, two time Leadville 100 winner.

A lot of runners get over-use injuries, by doing too much too soon. Almost always avoidable by paying attention to your body and taking a few days off when it needs it.

Everybody recommends starting out with the Couch to 5k plan. I worry about plans causing people to push through pain / early stages of injury, into serious injury.

Avoiding injury is way more important than sticking to a training plan.

I think the most important thing for people to learn is how to tell what running your body is up for today. So I think the most important links I can give you are on injury prevention:

Something feels a little funny? Take a few days off! It won't hurt your progress, and it may very well substantially benefit your progress by keeping you from needing to take a lot more time off.

Less injury = more time running = faster. 60-80% of runners get injured every year, mostly from doing too much, too soon. Why?

I also get the impression that a lot of runners run too fast / hard. You Shouldn't be Winded doing Couch to 5k. You should be able to recite a few sentences comfortably. Otherwise you're not getting aerobic exercise, you're getting anaerobic exercise, which is more work without more benefit, until your gains from aerobic exercise have leveled off, which takes longer than Couch to 5k.

Cross Training

Just running is great, and if that's what you're happy with, do that. But there's a definite limit of how fast you can increase the amount you run without breaking yourself with over-use injuries. But I think your distance running speed is mostly related to your cardiovascular health, which you can improve with no-impact exercise, which you can ramp up a lot more quickly. Like bicycling, swimming, and rowing. Bicycling and rowing have popular indoor options, some with great HRM capabilities. There are also ellipticals.

Barefoot

Again, if you're happy running in shoes, do that. A lot of people seem to find they get injured a lot less running barefoot. I guess because it's more instinctive to run with good form - not heel striking, running with a ~180 step per minute cadence, short stride, etc.. It seems most of runners' injuries are caused by cushy running shoes encouraging heel striking which causes more shock. And most of the concerns you might have about running barefoot turn out to be unjustified. Your body knows how to do this, just give it time to recover from the atrophy from years of wearing shoes. Start with taking your shoes off for the last five minutes of your next run. Spend more time walking barefoot. Take it easy, listen to your body. Try to figure out how to run most comfortably - if something feels uncomfortable, try something different. Don't run till you get blisters - you should feel the hot spots forming before they turn into blisters, and learn to interpret that kind of thing as a sign to stop running and walk back. Noticing exactly that kind of sign is probably the best thing you can learn for your long term running ability.


In talking about a beginner's marathon training program, Noakes has this to say: "From weeks 4-17, you may experience certain symptoms for the first time. These include persistent calf-muscle soreness and discomfort along the border of the shin bone, the tibia. This condition is known as tibial bone strain (shinsplints). Both tend to disappear with time, without recourse to the more involved treatment regime described in chapter 14. Symptoms like these indicate that training, however light it may seem, has been too intensive and, at least for a few weeks until the symptoms abate, your body will need more rest days. You should also decrease the the distance that you run. " Lore of Running 4th ed, p 336.


AskReddit says science still hasn't firmly established an opinion on barefoot vs. shod running.

Barefoot running in the cold.

Great video on (natural) running form.

ITBS


Couch to 5k podcasts

NHS Couch to 5k podcasts.

Robert Ullrey's Couch to 5k podcasts.


Visual Couch to 5k


Traditional running shoes prevent the foot from moving naturally, increasing injuries. Most people seem to argue that the benefits of running barefoot are mostly that it requires less conscious effort to run with good form, and that those benefits can also be applied to running with traditional shoes by using good form (only requiring more effort). This article is interesting because it claims traditional running shoes cause more injuries by preventing the foot from moving naturally.


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