Tricks Of the Trade
The Last Chapter
If you’re not running at this point, I really don’t know what to say! Unless it’s because you’re so engrossed in this book; in that case, it’s fine. You’ve been shown how running has helped me, why running is great for you as a human, and you were even given detailed instructions on how to run. You were provided guidance to help you get started and you were taught how to make a runner’s log to keep track of your progress and make it real. You even caught a glimpse into the minds of other crazy humans who run.
Now we have arrived at the last chapter. Here are some tips and other words I think will help you along the journey.
Tips For The Lifestyle
– You have to do it every day. It gets easier, but you have to get out there and do it every day. That’s really the hardest part, convincing yourself day after day to get outside and put in the effort. But I can promise, every day you force yourself out the door will be a good day.
– Always stretch before and after you run. Your body is a muscle; if it isn’t primed for action, you’ll have an easier time hurting yourself.
– Know the difference between being hurt and being injured. When you’re hurt, it is not serious and you can push through it and still be okay. When you’re injured, pushing through it will result in you not being able to run. This will come to you naturally, but not immediately – learn your limits.
– Do not be afraid to push your limits. That’s not to say you should go out and kill yourself beating your feet against the dirt every day, but everyone has a comfort zone. For some the comfort zone is large, so large they don’t think they have one. For others the comfort zone is tiny, so tiny they don’t believe they have one. What you should strive for is an awareness of your comfort zone so you can live on its edge and expand it whenever possible – comfort is the polar opposite of progress.
– Run in the rain. I know what you’re thinking: No. Take my counteroffer: Yes. Not only will you feel like an alpha for being the only one willing to do it, but the rain is just another stress variable that your body will learn to overcome. Remember, we’re hairless monkeys on a rock spinning around a ball of explosions – it’s okay to get wet. In fact, during the summer when that ball of explosions feels like it’s six feet above your head, the rain feels pretty damn good.
– Running in the snow is fun, too. Just throwing it out there.
– Don’t let anyone else tell you how to run. Don’t let anyone tell you you’re too slow or you’re too fast, that you’re anything. Usually when somebody has stuff to say about you, it’s them projecting their shortcomings onto you because they can’t deal with being themselves. Ignore the peanut gallery, you have running to do.
– Time yourself on every run and convert that time to a 5K time, or a time applicable to the distance of your preferred
punishment race. This will not only help you track your progress, but it also helps you teach yourself how to control your pace. You’ll organically figure out the difference between your long- and short-distance paces over time, but finding your baseline is always a challenge. If you time yourself, finding that baseline effort you have to put in to improve becomes all the much easier.
– Run in the woods at least once a week. I don’t mean go hiking (although you should do that too) but literally run on the trails, even if they lead up a mountain. Especially if they lead up a mountain. Hiking to a viewpoint is great and all, but running up there and mixing that view with the runner’s high? You’re welcome. As for why trailrunning is great: the uneven terrain and sharp turns and steep uphills provide fantastic workout potential. Plus, there’s something primal about running through the forest, it feels fucking great!
– Run in the morning, before you do anything else. Okay, maybe go to the bathroom and drink some water first, give your body some time to wake up before you put it to work, but definitely run in the morning. You’ll have that runner’s high unlocked early and it will carry you through the day on clouds of bliss, mark my words. It’s similar to the stoners’ wake and bake philosophy except it’s better because the sweat will sparkle when the early morning sunlight hits you. In other words, rise and shine.
– Don’t look at pain as a bad thing. Pain is just a certain signal your body sends to your brain when it’s doing something it isn’t used to doing. You’re running, you’re using your body in a way you probably never have before. It’s going to be confused, especially during that first month or two. Pain is weakness leaving the body, nothing more and nothing less.
– Vary your workouts. Don’t do the same thing every day, that will get real boring, real quick. The last thing you want is to become a creature of habit.
– PLEASE DON’T ADOPT A GOD COMPLEX BECAUSE YOU RUN. It’s one thing to feel divine, as you are divine, but so is everyone else, and you lighting a fire under your ass and making the decision to run every day does not make you better than anyone else. Well, it kind of does, but other humans don’t much like being made to feel inferior verbally. We’re all on our journeys and each of us are at a different point than the rest. Instead of belittling someone for being where they’re at in life, support them instead. If you want what’s best for another human, that human will probably want you in their life. And if you want to make somebody feel inferior, well… doing so with your presence alone should be enough.
– Find a tribe of humans to run with. Dogs run in packs, birds fly in flocks, and humans run in tribes. Training alone can be tough, especially when it comes to holding a steady pace, but when you’re out there with your tribe they’ll hold your pace for you, making it that much easier.
– Stretch your body before and after you run. Focus on dynamic stretches (stretches with movement) when you’re warming up before a run. To relax your body after the run, focus on static stretching, which is stretching with as little motion as possible. Or do the opposite of what I said; honestly, as long as you’re stretching you will be just fine.
Here I’ve detailed some workouts for you to incorporate into your training. They’re meant to challenge you, to sprinkle a little spice into your running life. Feel free to follow them if you’d like, or even use them as inspiration to create your own custom workouts. Either way, you should always have a stopwatch on you when you’re training. Got one? Good. Go kill that shit.
Speed Workouts – Do these anywhere you normally run.
– The Fartlek
The name (pronounced fart-lick) is hilarious and Swedish. It translates to speed play, and for good reason: this workout involves breaking up short periods of high exertion with longer periods of low exertion. The intervals can be whatever you want, but for example, say you’re going to run for 30 minutes; for the first 4 minutes, give 25% effort. Then, for 2 minutes, give 75% effort. Then, back to 4 minutes of 25%. Rinse and repeat. This works your mind out just as much as it does your body.
– The Tempo Run
Go for a short run at a slightly slower pace than you would race at. To do this, calculate your desired 5K time, for example, 20 minutes. If you do a 2-mile run, finish as close to 14 minutes flat as possible. This builds your sense of timing and over time will increase your baseline pace and make it easier to run faster for longer.
– The Fox and Hounds Run
Find yourself a friend or 3 to do this one with. Half start the run first. After a predetermined amount of time, the second half starts the run. The goal for the first half, the foxes, is to not get passed. The goal for the second half, the hounds, is to either pass the foxes or to finish the workout within the amount of time the foxes got their head start. For example, say you’re doing a 3-mile workout. The foxes get a 2-minute head start. If the hounds finish their run 1 minute after the foxes finish theirs, the hounds win. This simulates a competitive environment which makes you try harder without thinking about it.
Track Workouts – Do these on a track, preferably one with a lap distance of a quarter mile (400 meters).
– The Indian Run
Get yourself a tribe of sixish runners and a baton. If you’re not a freak and you don’t own a baton, a stick or even a rock will do just fine. Line up single-file and start running, the runner in front sets the pace. Steadily pass the baton/thing from the front to the back of the line while maintaining the pace. When the runner in back gets the thing, they run to the front and reset the pace. Then, the baton gets passed to the back of the line again and the cycle is repeated. Do this for 2 or 3 miles for a solid collaborative workout, and don’t be afraid to end it with a race.
Note: this one is fun in parks with looping trails, too!
– The 10-Mile Relay
Get yourself a partner and a goal pace. For example, for a runner with a 5K time of 20 minutes, one lap should be 96 seconds. Human Ay runs their first lap, aiming to finish in 96 seconds. Then, as they finish, Human Two starts their first lap, aiming to finish in 96 seconds. Each human rests while their partner runs. Do 40 laps total, meaning 20 laps each – that translates to 5 miles of running per human, 10 miles total.
– The Straightaway Sprinters
The straightaways of a standard track are 100 meters long. Run from beginning to end, aiming for a time of, for example, 24 seconds. Then, rest for 24 seconds. Then run back, aiming for a time of 24 seconds. Each rest period should be as long as it took to run the previous straightaway is what you should be getting out of this. Repeat this anywhere from 8 to 20 times, depending on how ballsy you’re feeling that day. You’ll know you did it right if you aren’t feeling so ballsy anymore when you’re finished.
Hill Workouts – Find yourself a hill, preferably one with many side streets branching off it, and get ready.
– The Haul
Run, from the base, to the summit of the hill. Do not stop on your way up. On your way down, jog slowly to recover. One set done. Do 3 to 5, call it a day. Give yourself a minute or 2 of rest between each set.
– The Ladder
Pick four spots on your hill. In my day we’d use a hill called Croissant and our markers were the first fire hydrant, the second driveway on your right, the first street sign on your right, and the sign that said don’t let your dogs shit everywhere, goddamnit but in more pleasant terms. Run, at a fast pace, to the first marker, then slowly jog down. Then gun it to the second marker and slowly jog back down. Then to the third, down, fourth, down. 1, 2, 3, 4, one set done. This is essentially a suicide workout, but it’s up a hill so it’s called a ladder. You could also do it 1, 2, 3, 4, 3, 2, 1, but you have to be the one to make that call.
Repeat 3 to 5 times. Give yourself a couple minutes of rest between each set. Call it a day.
Additionally – and this goes for the next workout too – make sure you descend slowly. If you’re sprinting back down the hill, you’re missing the point of the workout entirely.
– The Motherhaul
Run, from the base of the hill, to the first side street. Continue running to the end of that side street and then double back to the hill. Go to the next side street and repeat until you reach the summit. This one is basically The Haul except you also run all the side streets. From the summit, slowly jog down the hill; one set done. This is more of an endurance hill workout, so don’t worry about doing it at a superfast pace, and always remember to jog slowly when you’re going downhill. Do 2 to 4 sets if you’re still breathing after the first, with a minute or 2 of rest between each set.
Running Games – especially fun at 5Ks, these build camaraderie amongst runners while simultaneously offering a challenge.
– Ultimate Flying Disc
The official sport of cross country teams everywhere. Make 2 teams, at least 3 players each, and set up endzones. The goal is to pass the glorious flying disc to a teammate standing in the opposite team’s endzone. When you have the flying disc, you can take up to 3 steps towards or away from the endzones and as many steps left and right across the field as you want. If you go out of bounds with the flying disc in your possession or you drop or fail to catch the flying disc, it gets turned over to the other team. Game to 5, game to 10, whatever man. Go nuts.
– The Beanbag Relay Race
Make 2 teams, anywhere from 1 to 10 runners each. Set up 2 lines of 5 markers, whether they be cones, sticks, extra beanbags, rocks, anything, spaced out evenly over 100 meters or so. Get 2 to 10 beanbags and hand them out one per runner. When you holler go, the first runners sprint to the first markers, place their beanbags down (do not drop the beanbags, place them down), then sprint back and go to the backs of their lines. Then, the second runners sprint to the second markers, place their beanbags down, and sprint back to the backs of their lines. Repeat until all markers contain beanbags. Then, the next runners up (should be the ones who went first) sprint to the last markers, remove the beanbags, and sprint back. Continue on until each beanbag has been picked up and is securely grasped in a hand. First team to place and regrasp all their beanbags wins.
– Toe Tapper
The ultimate game; requires a handful of humans to be done correctly. Set up a square with 4 markers – we would use drawstring bags or t-shirts – the size of the square dependent on the number of contestants. Everybody stands on the inside perimeter of the square as a moment of silence is held. Then, it begins. The object of the game is to tap – I SAID TAP, NOT KICK OR STOMP OR SHATTER INTO THE EARTH– the tops of your many foes’ feet. If either of your feet are successfully tapped, you are out. If you step outside the boundaries, you are out. Last human standing is crowned Champion Of The Universe. Rematch ad infinitum.
The Competitive Edge
Lastly, here are some words regarding the competitive side of running.
– Looking for somewhere to start? Nonprofit charity organizations hold 5K runs as fundraisers, they’re a great way to meet up with your local running community, support a worthy cause, win some awards, and eat free food!
– The most important thing you can do: run your race. Competition is fun, you want to see how you stack up against the other runners, you want to be better than them, and that’s great, but, you won’t go anywhere if you’re paying more attention to your competition than you are to yourself.
– Persevere! Running a race against other humans is much harder than just going for a run – it’s also more rewarding. Remember: it’s the worst twenty minutes of your life, then you’re done. Then you get awards, food, and… well, what else do you really need??
– When you pass someone, you get a morale boost and they get deflated. Use this to your advantage.
– Encourage your fellow competitors! Whether you pass them, lap them, get passed or get lapped, finish in front of or behind them, it doesn’t matter. They’re running the footrace just like you are, so make sure to show your support. Eventually, other humans will do it for you too. Also, when you finish a race, shake the hands of whoever finished immediately before and after you. Be a good sport.
– When you first start racing, don’t worry about anything except finishing. Don’t worry about time, place, age groups, nothing – just finish your first couple races without walking and know you’ve done well. Racing is a very different animal than normal running, it has a different temperament. One should look at it through a different lens.
– Don’t go out with the rabbits; there are always runners who sprint ahead of the crowd at the beginning of every race so they can “get a good start.” All too often they end up burning themselves out and their race suffers for it. Don’t be one of these idiots.
– Know the difference between sprinting and kicking. To sprint is to save energy during a race and burn it off at the end, hoping it will be enough to handle the competitor next to you who wouldn’t be there if you tried your best throughout. A kick, on the other hand, is when you gave everything you had during the race and, as you approach the end with a competitor on your ass, something comes from within you and takes over, blasting you through the finish. When I would run races in high school I would hit the beginning of the final stretch, black out, then suddenly come to when the race was over. I never actually lost consciousness, obviously; my attention and awareness went fully into pushing harder than the guy next to me and my dial did not stop at 100. I rarely got out-kicked.
– Races are the time to try as hard as you can. During a normal workout, if you’re doing it right, you’re giving 100%. During a race, give more. 110%. Or 120%. Or better yet, 1,111%. If you don’t, by the time the race is over, you’ll have the overwhelming feeling that you could have done more, and that is NOT the feeling you want to have after completing a footrace. That doesn’t mean sprint the whole race, either; just give it your best attempt.
– Put your best effort forward for the entire race. Not just at the beginning, not just during the middle, not just at the end, not just when somebody’s about to pass you, not just when you’re running alone; from the moment the starting gun goes off until you cross the finish line you must be giving yourself 100%. Otherwise, why do you even bother?
– NEVER listen to anyone who tells you to use a strategy called “negative splits.” What this comes down to, essentially, is running the first leg of the race slowly so you can gun it through the second leg of the race. This does not work; if you aren’t giving 100% throughout the entire race then you’re wasting not only your own time, but your competition’s time too. Don’t be one of those guys, okay? Nobody likes those guys.
– Don’t go it alone. Running races by yourself is fun and all, but most races offer the option to sign up with a team. Get a couple buddies together and make one! Before you know it, you’ll be dominating the world!
– The starting line harbors a lot of anxiety. What if the weather gets ugly? What if it suddenly becomes too hot or too cold to run? What if somebody trips you? What if the course is full of potholes? What if a meteor strikes and kills everybody? In the event any hurdles come up on the course, well, everyone else has to deal with them too. Breathe and get leaping.
– Lastly, stay positive. Life is psychedelic, meaning mind-manifesting. The things you think have a tendency to become real in rather mysterious ways. If you go into a race thinking about how bad you’re going to do, how much it will hurt, how you wish you were still sleeping, chances are you’re going to suck wind and run terribly. However, if you go into a race thinking about how well you’re going to perform, how you love to compete, how amazing you’re going to feel after you cross the finish line, chances are you’re going to kill it. And even if you don’t kill it, even if you run a shitty race, at least you won’t be the loser who’s openly doubting themselves for all to hear. That guy is the absolute worst!
This has been chapter 6 of the book Running: How To Torture Yourself And Enjoy It |The Unvictimized Edition|. Here is everything you need to know about it:
Running: How To Torture Yourself And Enjoy It
|The Unvictimized Edition|
- A satirical self-help book about running that’s more about its author than anything else
- Book stats:
– 156 pages
– 26,867 words
– Spiral: The Highest One Writing | Arc: I
– Series: W-63 | Entry: 1
– Revision Date: June 09, 2021
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If you’re there, hypothetical reader, thank you for being there. From this day on, we move forever forward~