Note: I got this question from one of my readers not too long ago, and thought I’d post the response as a Q+A for you here.
There was a time in my life when I ran six days a week, and almost every single run pushed me right to my limit. I ran myself so hard for so long that I developed debilitating injuries that ultimately took years of rehabilitation before I could even run again. Yes, I was dumb, and needless to say, I’m a little wiser for the wear. If I was going to start running that much again, my approach would be completely different from what it used to be – light-years different actually. So, if you are at all interested in high-frequency or high-volume running, then here is a laundry list of tips for you – tips I gave to a man who has a goal of running every single day for a year.
My challenge for myself this year is to run 365 days this year. I’m a runner. I love running. I am not perfect and I’m still overweight, even after all the running that I do. Do you have any tips for an [relatively] extreme challenge like this? – Joshua
There’s so much I could say. So, I’ll just point you to a handful of resources to help you get started…
1) First, definitely read Joe Henderson’s short book Long Slow Distance, which is available for free online. I wrote an article highlighting some of its lessons on my site and you’ll see a link to the book in this article: The Little-Known Philosophy of Gentle Running
2) Second, I would HIGHLY recommend beginning a daily pre and post run practice involving some joint mobility and yoga compensatory routines that are specific to running. This is especially important since you’re a little overweight. Your body has more stress on the joints and soft tissues and you’ll want to go above and beyond on this prehabilitative work. For perspective, if you were my personal training client, this would be required. It’s that important.
The DVD called RMAX Powered Running by Joseph Wilson is a perfect program for this and will cover almost all of your bases. There’s some more info about the program in this article:
How to Run Better for the Perfect Run: 5 Things That I Do Differently Now That I Know Better
If you want to go deeper into this to help you maximize your performance and minimize the risk of injuries, then I’d look into the Intu-Flow, Ageless Mobility, and Prasara Yoga resources that are available from Scott Sonnon. Again, this is highly recommended! Mobility, yoga, and prehabilitative work is a hard sell, and most people don’t give it the time of day. But unless you’re a genetic freak, I seriously doubt you could accomplish your goal without taking this stuff seriously. I know I couldn’t, nor could many of the runners who are injured every year. There’s a nice introductory package available at an incredibly discounted rate here:
3) Third, from personal experience, I can only run daily if my technique is spot-on every single run. If I can’t do that, then little aches and pains emerge, and if I press on, they develop into debilitating injuries. The only way that I’ve been able to run with optimal technique consistently for long periods of time is when I run barefoot. That is, completely barefoot. I can’t even make it work in minimalist shoes (that’s just me). So, if you haven’t already looked into it, I would definitely recommend looking into making a slow and incremental transition to barefoot running (a one year goal might not be a bad idea – starting with very short distance walks barefoot). My story of how I transitioned is on Damien Tougas Minimalist Footwear site here: How Going Barefoot Made Me Stronger
Start here for some basic info on going barefoot (there’s a lot more on the internet if you search for it):
Interview with Barefoot Ken Bob (his new book is also highly recommended)
There’s a ton more info about barefoot running on my site if you search the archives, too.
4) Lastly, take a look at this article, which will shed some light on some of the tips (and philosophy) of sustainable running:
All five of those tips will be of utmost importance to you if you really want to have a chance at achieving this goal, but don’t overlook the last one: “rest when needed.” Having a goal of running every single day for a year is certainly noteworthy, but it’s also an arbitrary standard that isn’t based on your day-to-day needs. You can’t predict how you’ll be feeling every day this year, or what life may throw at you. In fact, it’s quite likely that you’ll encounter a day when it would be best NOT to run at all.
And so, I would caution you against getting your hopes up of running every single day this year, for fear of allowing yourself to become obsessive over something that could do more harm than good. I presume one of the reasons you’re taking on such a challenge is to improve something about yourself by accomplishing such a large feat. That’s all well and good, but realistically, you should let your body be your guide. Personal growth will come if you use your intuition and do what’s best instead of adhering to a program that cannot possibly be perfectly suited for your day-to-day needs.
Good luck, and let me know if you have any questions.
PS – one last tip: start small, like “I can’t believe I’m even doing this – it’s so easy – small.”
PPS – and do your runs first thing in the morning to make sure you actually get them in every day :-)
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CST Coach, CST-KS
Health-First Fitness Coach
P.P.S. Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/lorensztajer/