I am one of those crazy guys you often hear about - the guy that went from a couch potato to an Ultra Distance runner. I went from being 75 lbs overweight and very inactive to running five marathons in 12 months, and running my first 50K Ultra in late February 2013!
Before you stop reading because you are not this crazy, I want you to stick with me a little longer. About three years ago I decided I was tired of being overweight and unhealthy. I have five kids and I want to be around to see my grandkids, plus my wife of 27 years wants to keep me around a bit longer! I started my journey by making small changes in my diet. These were little thing I did over time like adding more fruit to my daily routine, eating more veggies, cutting out the sodas and sweet tea, etc. I eventually went all plant-powered and began my marathon training program 12 months after I began the changes.
I personally followed a version of Jeff Galloway’s run/walk method and I slowly built up my distance to a marathon. In Dec 2012, I ran my first marathon in 18 years! I was hooked after that and I needed more! I ran another marathon in July and took 30 minutes off my time by slowing down my long training runs and building up my zone 2 base. In November I ran the Rock and Roll Marathon in San Antonio and then a double marathon in Dallas on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day!
I will admit I have an additive personality so I typically go all in; however, the lessons I learned can apply to most people wanting to run long distances.
I have spent a considerable amount of time learning about nutrition and fitness. My biggest training goal was to do all this injury free! It is not much fun to set goals and then have to sit out as the race goes on without you. Why do I share this? Well over the last two years I have talked to countless friends at the gym, local running clubs and online about training. The most common theme I see is overtraining or doing too much too soon. For me, it took almost six months to go from the couch to six miles comfortably! I trained for another year before I ran my first marathon. I did what most people don't – I had a plan.
Whether your goal is a 5K or a 100 miler - you must have a plan. It is too easy to listen to everyone else, get confused and try to do too many of the things you have been told at once. Even worse is going out wanting to run a race and not having any plan at all - that is a recipe for disaster. Now I certainly recommend getting advice from others experienced runners, but in the end you cannot make changes to your routine on a regular basis and expect good results. Too many times runners are confused and try to incorporate too many things at once. Some of the confusion comes from the industry - not all runners agree on how to train, you see this often in magazines such as Runners World. Now I will admit there are several ways to go about training. There is no one “right” way - you must find what works for you. Stick with a solid foundation, make small tweaks along the way but see your plan through.
I share this because many new runners start out going too fast, too far, or don't make the right nutritional choices to support their goal. Many runners begin running to lose weight, but they do not change anything about their diet. Whether you are plant-powered like me or like to eat your meat, you must eat real food! It is that simple! Stay away from the GUs and gels. Avoid sugary sports drinks like Gatorade, and just stick to water. And please do not listen to the commercials about chocolate milk! For your daily diet get plenty of fruits and veggies. If you continue to eat fast food or meals from a box - then you may find your goals much harder to reach. I guarantee it is a lot more fun to run at your ideal weight than carrying an extra 20 lbs!
Lastly find a program that matches your needs and goals. This can be through a coach, a local running club, or a program such as Jeff Galloway’s. It is heartbreaking to see friends on a path to injury. Even though I offer some advice they still believe “they can do it” and end up getting hurt and missing the race.
Don't let this happen to you. Reach out to qualified individuals or programs that you can trust.
Good luck and I would love to hear from you!
Personal Blog: Bjtucker05.blogspot.com