Although running is considered one of the simplest and most straight forward activities that we can engage in today, we need to keep in mind that “distance running” is definitively an endurance sport. Like so many things that appear “simple”, there’s often much more to something than meets the eye. In the case of distance running, this apparent simplicity often belies a milieu of intricacies and interrelated components that must come together over time to enable us to run far, fast, and efficiently without hurting ourselves.
As kids, we ran a lot, playing tag, racing to the swings, and engaging in other sports that involved some type of running. It probably seemed like it all came naturally. However, that may have been a long time ago and and many of us have been a lot less active during those intervening years. Consequently, it comes as no surprise that we are most likely not as fit as we were during our younger years, making old and new endeavors alike much more challenging and less forgiving on our bodies. However, like riding a bicycle, you never really forget how to run, because our bodies have a knack for retaining the basic neural coordination, motor unit recruitment, and biomechanics of how to run. They just may be a bit rusty. What is often more apparent and noticeable, is a gross lack of activity-specific stamina to run more than a few hundred meters without having to stop. However, let’s be clear, running around a playground or field, or up and down a basketball court is a far cry from the stamina and endurance necessary to run a 5k (3.1 miles), 10K event (6.2 miles), or a marathon (26.2 miles), let alone a 1 or 2 mile easy, steady-state, training run when just starting out.
With a personal running coach to guide you, making this transition from relative inactivity into a distance runner can be made more manageable, successful and enjoyable, especially during the critical initial 3-6 month training period, when many would-be runners become discouraged and/or injured and decide to give up without really giving themselves a chance to experience real progress and fitness.