For the past 15 years of my life I’ve consistently run as part of my fitness routine. Until the last year of my life.
This is what my friend and I established over FaceTime a couple weeks ago when I updated him on my life. What was supposed to be a catch up about Marketing turned into an unexpected set of focus items by the end of the FaceTime session.
“You have three goals for the month of March,” Cody said through my MacBook screen. “Attend networking/startup events, write for other publications, and run.”
My Relationship with Running
I am not a running expert. However, I have received a lot of running advice: most of it as solicited as my Google search bar before a date – but some of it not. My running resume could be summed up as follows:
- Affair with a treadmill, 2002 – 2006: High school track practice made me too anxious to function so I told my parents I would go to the gym instead to appease them. The treadmill became my best friend even though I didn’t know what I was doing.
- Addicted to mid-distance running, 2007: After breaking up with the treadmill, I began running outside and became addicted. Coupled with a desire to win over my college boyfriend, I teetered on exercise-orexia.
- Running to boxing, 2008: To adopt a healthier fitness routine and deal with the now-won-over boyfriend, I took up boxing and ran to the gym in my wrist wraps like I was Rocky. Which was completely unnecessary.
- Barefoot marathon running, 2010 – 2012: After a wild senior year of running to the bars as my workout, I joined a barefoot running club and soon ran both a half-marathon and full marathon with the conviction that traditional running shoes were like Uggs at the beach.
- Crossfit and weekly jogs, 2012 – 2014: Like Goldilocks, I finally found a fitness solution that was just-right for me. Crossfit offered the competitive aspects of marathon running (along with lean muscle that burned off my Swedish fish candies while I slept) while occasional weekly and weekend runs balanced out the anaerobic activity. Suddenly I was stronger and leaner than ever.
So why did I think everything would be okay when I abruptly stopped?
5 Things to Consider for Your Running Routine
My once-coveted calves soon lost their shape no matter how many box jumps or burpees Crossfit provided which is why I’m reuniting with running for the month – and probably forever. Below is the advice that I’ve collected along the way from my own experience and running coaches.
1. Establish a goal
While muscular calves is a great aspiration, focusing on that alone does not provide enough motivation because it leaves plenty of room for excuses not to run. To get there, I’ve signed up for a half-marathon as my next running goal.
My previous goals have included 5k runs, increasing cardio endurance for long Crossfit workouts and improving my 1-mile PR.
2. Incorporate speedwork
I felt like I was back in high school P.E. Class as I sprinted down the beach with Laith, a former running coach. While every bit of me wanted to pout as we did 45 second sprints with 1 minute rest, but I focused on his promise: “sprints will get your calves back.”
When I reported the sprint workout to my health coach, Jason recommended, “With sprints – 100% All out for 20 second portion is the ultimate goal – assume that 10 seconds at beginning and ending is 80% or under.”
Find a local track and research sprint workouts on Pinterest.
3. Embrace some walking
On top of Crossfit and sprints, Jason also recommended, “Have an extra goal to hit 8000,-10,000 (3-4 days per week) steps with your phone or Fitbit. “Women often do too much mid level cardio and it can impact cortisol.” Cortisol effects include stress, water retention and slow metabolism.
Instead of gossiping with your coworkers in the lunch room, head out for a walk.
Some of the biggest improvements I’ve seen in my body composition, aside from my diet, have come as a result of cross-training. Which I often have to remind myself to do. With Crossfit memberships costing hundreds of dollars, it’s easy to justify missing your $29 yoga class.
But the great thing about running… it’s free. Substitute it for a pricey spin class or look up a HIIT workout to do at the park when you’re done.
5. Find the routine that works for you
The last time I ran a marathon I followed Hal Higdon’s marathon training guide at a pace that I call “Forrest Gump mode.” I ran everyday at a pace at which you could trot across the United States. However, that won’t work for me now.
With daily Crossfit and the desire for stronger calves, I’m following a three-day a week running program suggested by a fellow Crossfitter and running coach.
At ridiculous as my Rocky-esque run to boxing in 2008 looked, that worked for me then. And in the last few years, simply running 1 mile every morning to chat with my friends post-workout worked perfectly fine as well. Whatever your goal is for the month, quarter or year, find a routine that works for you.