Beginner Runner ~ for how long? (Read 918 times)


    I started running in July, 2006. I basically followed the Couch-to-5K-Program for the first 2 months. For the next month after than I continued to run 3 to 3.5 miles, 3 to 4 times a week, based on the Jeff Galloway 5k Training Schedule. (from coolrunning)... "Fitness begins to increase dramatically around the tenth week of training and climbs steadily for another two or three months before leveling off. You will probably find this to be the most rewarding period of your new running career, with each week yielding greater achievements than the week before. Still, be cautious and don't try to ramp up your mileage too fast. Because your muscles adapt faster than your bones and joints, this is a period when many beginners run into injuries. It is a good idea to level off your distance for a few weeks. Limit your runs to three miles and give your bones and connective tissues a chance to catch up. Then, if you wish, gradually increase your distance." In week 12 I increased one of my weekly runs to 4 miles, and gradually over the next few months increased my 'long run' up to 7 miles. My question is, how long are you considered to be a beginner runner? Some books say you should not increase your long run too much, and should not do speedwork until after you've been running for a full year. Other books say that beginners should run more miles, at a slow base to build endurance. I'm into my 7 month of running. My first official 5K race is in March. I would like to wait until Spring to increase my 'long run' to 8+ miles, and then gradually go up from there. There is simply too much ice and snow and bitterly cold weather right now for me to run outdoors for more than 1 1/2 hours. I’m slow. My long run pace is 12-13 min/mile so 8 miles would take me 1:30-1:45. So my other question is, should I run 5 days/week instead of 4 days/week to increase my weekly mileage? And is there anything wrong with waiting for winter to end before making my long runs longer? My last outdoor run was 6 miles on New Years Day. In the summer and fall I did all my runs outdoors, but I've been doing more and more runs on the treadmill and they are simply not as enjoyable as running outdoors. Last 5 weeks… 1/14/2007 - 1/20/2007: 16.1 Mi 3:16:35 1/07/2007 - 1/13/2007: 16.1 Mi 3:19:20 12/31/2006 - 1/6/2007: 13.1 Mi 2:38:59 12/24/2006- 12/30/2006: 13.0 Mi 2:42:26 12/17/2006 - 12/23/2006: 12.5 Mi 2:31:53 Monthly totals… January will be about 60 miles December, 2006: 45.1 Mi 9:07:00 November: 40.4 Mi 8:13:54 October: 49.2 Mi 10:09:01 September: 40.0 Mi 8:14:12 August: 42.9 Mi 9:13:40 I’m 54 … running for health, fitness, fun and weight control, not to break any records (or body parts, LOL!) I know my endurance has improved, but I just don't feel ready to really "go for it" like I would have when I was in my 20's and 30's. When I read about all your accomplishments it seems like I'm wimping out, but I feel like I'm doing the best I can. You are all very inspiring. Thank you for sharing your knowledge and stories. Smile ~ Arlene

    Now that was a bath...

      I think that this question has a different answer for everyone and is hard to answer. I have been running for 10 weeks and I too had read that at this point there is a huge improvement in your running. Yesterday when I was in bed ill I read an Artuhur Lydiard book from cover to cover 'Distance Running for Women'. Lydiard considers just three months of consistant running a base period that can take you into a heavy training schedule. Consistancy and distance are the keys to Lydiard style training and he would advocate that you run long and far to be a runner, not wait to become one and then run. Of course Lydiard isn't for everyone! I think that if you follow the ten percent rule (no more than a 10% increase in long run and no more than a 10% increase in mileage in a single week) and include weeks with less mileage for recovery - you can't go far wrong. I would definitely say that an increase to 5 days a week would be a great first step! And you certainly aren't wimping out! That comment reminds me of a 60 year old man I met at the Waiheke race. After finishing the punishing 25k hill run in just under 3 hours he said to me 'I'm not very fit!' Heck it's all relative. I read your profile - "I feel awesome, I look fit, and my resting heart rate is down to 52. I run because they didn't think I could." Can't ask for better than that woman! You are already a runner I think! Claire xxx
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        I'm sort of planning to move myself out of "newbie" status come the first day of Spring. It was the first day of Spring last year when I started the C25K, myself. I ran my first HM after only 7 months of running, but I was always careful to not increase my weekly mileage by more than 10% from week-to-week. I think you should be able to move to 5 days/week as long as you don't overdo the cumulative mileage too much in the first couple of weeks. I hear you on the cold and wint'ry weather thing. I have limited my runs to no longer than 2 hours until Spring. My longest run since my HM was 110 minutes and I only went about 10 miles in that time. The cold seems to really slow me down even moreso than normal (the last two runs I have done on snow and pushing 13 minutes/mile). k

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        CPT Curmudgeon

          How long are you considered a beginner? Depends on what you're talking about. I generally don't really like the term beginner runner, since you can be a beginner at different stages. That statement aside, to address your other questions: Claire is right, a lot of those issues are personal ones (not secret personal, but decided only by the individual). A good portion of what you're asking about is also based on short and long term goals. You said you're mostly doing this for the health benefits, lose some weight. If that's the case, I wouldn't really worry about doing "speedwork" ever. There is absolutely no requirement for you to do a race that would involve you ever doing anything like repeats, or even think about a track. As far as upping mileage, you are doing pretty much the exact opposite of what a lot of "beginners" do: Ramp up mileage too quickly and run too fast looking for immediate gains. So, kudos to you for being cautious. When it comes to upping your mileage, do what feels right. If you're not following some prescribed wisdom, remember this: That wisdom is a generalization. If you don't want to increase long runs....Don't. Better to be happy with what you're doing than try to do something that you're not up for. As for increasing frequency, if you're feeling good about things, then go for it. Easiest way to increase weekly mileage is frequency of runs. My $.02, your mileage may vary.
            There's nothing wrong with waiting to increase either your milage or your long run until you feel ready for it. So long as running continues to be enjoyable for you, you're not getting hurt, and you're happy with the progress you're making, then as far as I can see you're doing everything right. Wink Everyone's different and coming from different backgrounds and abilities. Something important I've had to remember is that you run with the body you have, not the body you wish you had. Congratulations on a half a year of injury-free running! Be patient and kind to yourself by listening to your body and using your common sense. Sounds like you've got a good start. Strictly in terms of training benefit, yes, usually 5 days is better than 4. But not always. It depends on your body and how much recovery time you need in between runs. You are your own best coach here - because only *you* know how ready you are to increase the workload. Good luck! Janell

            Roads were made for journeys...


              Thank you, thank you, thank you. I'm pleased with my progress and "feel" like I've been doing things right - for my situation. I own about 6 different books on running and pick and choose the advise that seems relevent to me. I guess I just felt the need for some feedback from actual runners because I have no one that I can talk to about running. I don't know anyone who runs and most of my family and friends are not the least bit interested in the subject. In fact they treat the topic as if it is something just plain weird. I also do Tai Chi and they think that is off the wall too, LOL! I live in town and do not have a car during the week, just on weekends, because my hubby works out of town. In order to run close to home means running on sidewalks, on fairly busy streets, waiting for stoplights, etc., and in the winter half the people don't shovel their sidewalks. At least the treadmill allows me to get my runs in mid-week. I much prefer to run on trails as much as possible, but that means driving to get there. Claire, you are awesome (and just a little bit scary, LOL! Wink ) You sure have guts and your race story was incredible. I just don't want to hurt that much ... hope you recover soon. Kirsten, Scout and Janell, thanks for making me feel a whole lot better. I know the 'common sense approach' is not for everyone but it seems to be working for me. Thanks for the words of wisdom! ~ Arlene
                Hi Arlene - we have a lot in common! I also moved into running from walking and started for health benefits - I no longer had a choice - I had Triglyceride levels in the 800 range, HDL in the 30's and they didn't even measure the LDL because the triglycerides were too high. With running, I was able to get off cholesterol meds within 6 mos, and now have even higher HDL levels than when I was on the meds! I really got obsessed with running. Every week was about faster/longer. At my peak I was averaging close to 40 miles/week with my long run in the 12 -14 mile range and considered it almost a "sin" if I had to walk during any run! - all this within my 1st year. I was in for a rude awakening when I transitioned too quickly from indoor to outdoor running. The best run I ever had was the day I got injured! I ran up a hill, ran to the track, did laps, ran up another hill, then ran the reverse route home - the endorphins wer pumping overtime - felt on top of the world - until I started limping that night Shocked that was 9 months ago. I was 49 1/2 when I started and had never been into athletics or regular exercise. I realize now that 'tho I may want to deny it, there is a big difference between starting to run at 49 as opposed to 39 - lol! I never thought I would get an injury that would side line me for 13 weeks and never even feel when it happened! I was about 118 lbs (5'4")and around 16-18% bodyfat at the time. Partly because of my age, I think my aerobic fitness far out paced my muscle/bone strength gains. If I could have a "do-over" - I would defintely have slowed down the mileage increase, especially with the long run and would have added length to shorter runs before adding additional running days, as well as starting a day of xtrain/strength workouts from the beginning. I still want to get back to that level of mileage again, but now I don't care how long it takes me to get there - at least I'll be able to "run" to pursue this goal! You are not wimping out - you are being smart so that you can continue to run! Congrats on your commitment and determination - they make you inspiring as well. Smile

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                  Cheryl, it's wonderful that you have been able to get your cholesterol and blood sugar levels under control. You really did go all out in your first year didn't you? I can't imagine myself ever running 40 miles/week. At my pace I'd be spending 8 hours a week in running alone, plus the time I spend on XT. I do a variety of the exercises for strength and stretching, and I cycle and swim. (I don't bother logging them.) I’m sorry to hear you finally succumbed to injury. Being sidelined for 13 weeks must have been awful. However, I'm sure I'll screw up and get hurt sooner or later, LOL. I think it's almost inevitable with running. Thanks for sharing your story. I'm glad you’re back to running. (And welcome to the 50s!) ~ Arlene