An Introduction to Running
One of the greatest books written by runners and for runners is Christopher McDougall’s Born to Run. T he book has many great takeaways that make it worthwhile for any beginner or seasoned runner to read. Aside for being entirely entertaining with humor sprinkled in, many parts of the stick with you - including wonderful advice. The best piece of advice I have taken away is this quote:
“Think easy, light, smooth, and fast. You start with easy, because if that’s all you get, that’s not so bad. Then work on light. Make it effortless, like you don’t [care] how high the hill is or how far you’ve got to go. When you’ve practiced that so long that you forget you’re practicing, you work on making it smooooooth. You won’t have to worry about the last one – you get those three, and you’ll be fast.”
Completely relax your body. Let go of the tension in your neck and your shoulders, and let that looseness include your arms, hands, knees and ankles. Let that relaxed flow include your thoughts and feelings - no need to be pent up about performance or looks, just go with the run. There’s no need to be sprinting at this stage, just the nice, easy pace that comes naturally.
Understand right away that every run isn’t going to be easy or fun. The reason we start with easy if because. ‘if that’s all you get, that’s not so bad.'”
Focus on how your feet fall on the sidewalk. If you can audibly hear your footfall, work on running lighter by changing you foot placement as it hits the ground so that the front of your foot hits first, hot your heel. If you’ve been running a certain way for a while it can be difficult to change, so change slowly so as to not shock your body and lead to injury.
Start by straightening your running posture and changing your stride length to be shorter and lighter, closer to baby steps. Combine this lightness with easy and your one step closer to being a great runner!
Now, string it all together. Bring your breathing into the mix, and maintain an even, steady, in-and-out breath. At this stage in the running game, you might even be lucky enough to experience “the zone”, “runners flow” or the famed runner high : a mental state of operation in which a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity
The runners flow is a common goal for many runners, and that elite runners especially have perfected doing what it takes to achieve that state of mind. The Guardian lists six qualities that your practice has to have in order to reach a runner’s flow:
1. Continually work on your running game through practicing and working on your form and endurance. Consistence training over the periods of months and years.
2. Challenge yourself, but don’t set those challenges so far our of reach. Gradually increase the difficulty of those obstacles.
3. Create a supportive and knowledgeable network though running friends, running clubs, and so on.
4. Clear goals and means to measure progress. Using a running journal or app on your phone is a great way to measure progress.
5. Occasionally run just for the fun of it, no self-expectations or timing yourself, just run to feel the wind in your hair and the trail beneath your feet.
6. Have other people make sure you are running and create systems to help you achieve your goals.
As you gradually work in East, Light, and Smooth, speed will come. Like with anything else, start small and work your way to fast.
You don’t have to be an elite runner hitting 7 minute mile splits with ease to find the runners flow. Honestly, I think as long as you find running a joyful expression of your personhood you can enjoy running wherever you are.
Written by Adam Martin.
Adam is a seasoned runner of more than ten years. With nine marathons under his belt. One of his big focuses is lifelong running combined with a lifestyle that is responsible to the earth and other humans. You can follow his blog, Wayfare Runner at: