On Saturday night, my girlfriend and I ran a 5K together. It was one of those deals where they had neon color squirt guns and loud music (that wasn’t death metal, so I didn’t get it).
Leading up to this event I cannot say I was prepared or confident that it was going to go well. There were a couple of reasons for me to believe I was going to fail horribly.
– The last time I ran steady state cardio was about 2.5 years ago.
– In that time I had been mostly training for strength (<6 rep range) with some Olympic lifting mixed in.
– When I had been running, I never ran 3.1 miles consecutively.
– I hate distance running
So as you can see my positive attitude and physical preparedness did not really convince me that I was going to finish this thing. I assumed that I would be dying across the finish line (if I even made it).
When we crossed the finish line, a couple of things occurred. One, we made it the whole way without stopping. When it was over, I was not gassed or gasping for air. I probably could have went further.
Oh, and we probably finished in just over 25 minutes.
So what gives? How does someone who never runs all of the sudden easily run 5k?
Here are some of the lifestyle changes I have made since the days that I was running somewhat consistently.
1. My diet is way cleaner.
When I was an undergrad, I was at the mercy of their food. It was not fresh, lacked nutrients, and who knows what was actually in it.
I was also still using textbook guidelines that say you need high carb, lots of grains, etc.
Now, I am responsible for what is in my food. There is minimal processing, I cook it properly, and I get to eat what I want.
I also rarely eat refined sugar, grains, and other high glycemic foods.
This is accomplished with some effort, though. I sweeten my oatmeal with agave, I make my own BBQ sauce, and I always make time to cook instead of eating out.
2. I weigh a lot less.
I was probably running at a weight 15-20 pounds more than I am now. If I threw a weighted vest on in the run, I cannot imagine performing very well.
This reasoning piggybacks the first point I made. The dietary changes listed above, combined with heavy strength training, were my strategy for weight loss.
It is very interesting how I lost more weight doing no long, slow distance cardio than running twice a week.
Weighing less means I did not have to use as much muscle activity or get as much oxegyn around the body.
3. I thought about my technique the entire time.
I controlled my breathing to make sure that I was breathing through the diaphragm and not the chest. When the muscles around my collar bones started to seize up I knew I had gotten away from it.
I also focused on quiet steps. I tried to make sure that I could not hear myself striking the ground. Hard steps waste energy and add a lot of unnecessary impact to the activity.
I kept my shoulders back. Retracting the shoulder blades allowed me to open my chest up and keep my torso upright/stable.
Lastly, my arms were under control. They swung forward and backward, not to the sides. Those who swing their arms across their body are causing energy leaks that will decrease performance. It only makes sense that your body should be moving in the direction that you are going.
If you have made it this far you probably realize that I am a weirdo with nothing better to do than scan food labels and think about running from.
You may be right, but I knew that I would not finish the race if I did not do it correctly.
I also, did not make this post to brag about myself and talk about how awesome I am. The purpose of this post is to show you how to be successful in accomplishing your goals.
Proper nutrition and technique will help you succeed in almost any activity.
Make your body efficient. Give it the fuel it deserves and use good form. If the body is not combating crap food and energy leaks, you will be successful.
Stay tuned for the next post on how I recovered from the race.