Beginner Note 7 September 2012

Hello everyone,

We are off to a great start!  I think we’re going to have a very strong group this year.  You are all making it look easy.  I promise you can start complaining any time now.  You don’t have to be so quiet and agreeable!!!  I’ve attached our program in two separate files for those of you who haven’t received a hard copy yet.  One is more of a weekly view of what we’re doing and the other file breaks down week by week our running and walking intervals.  There are some notes on the program that explain a bit about how things work.  For those of you who are just joining us, don’t worry!  You’ll be fine.  Our routine is this:  on Thursdays I run with the group and we also have Bonnie, Syma and Betsy running with us to help out.  The following Tuesday, the group will meet at Starbucks at the same time (always 8:15am) and repeat what we did the prior Thursday.  Bonnie, Syma and Betsy run with our more advanced groups which meet on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.  They have all come through some version of our beginner group so they can definitely relate to what you’re going through.  They are all fabulous runners and are a great source of information about training and fitness.  

Quite a few of you have asked why we’re running so slow and/or why do we have walking breaks.  I’ll try to explain some of that philosophy.  Most of us have tried to run at some point in our lives or we had to do it in school.  Usually we have less-than-wonderful memories about running.  In my opinion, most people trying to learn to run go too fast.  They head out the front door like a rocket, chest pounding, lungs gasping for air, legs screaming, etc.  No wonder we don’t stick with it.  It’s horrible.  From my experience, if we start very slowly, run at a very gentle pace and don’t get our heart-rates too high, then we’re OK to keep at it.  When we finish running as a group, you should be feeling like you did something but you shouldn’t be exhausted.  That is the psychological side of it.  From a physiological viewpoint, if you are new to running then your body isn’t necessarily ready to support that activity.  By starting the program very gently we give our bodies time to catch up.  Over the first few weeks, there are small changes happening within your muscular system.  The small stabilizer muscles surrounding joints will strengthen.  The larger muscles which drive movement will start to “wake up”.  Most likely you will not notice these changes in the mirror, but they are happening.  By beginning a new training regime gradually, we can hopefully keep injuries at bay.  This is one of the reasons we definitely need to keep our pace slow on Tuesdays.  Reign each other in!!!  Try to replicate the pace we do together on Thursdays.  If you run too fast, it can lead to injury or make you very frustrated with running.  I’ll repeat this because it’s critical……  keep the Tuesday run SLOW, very SLOW!!!

During the first few weeks of our program, we’ll continue to have additions to the group and start to see some attrition.  Usually by October, the group settles into a pack and running becomes part of your weekly routine.  For those of you who have some running experience, please consider moving up to our Mon/Wed/Fri groups.  We have another 100-110 runners who run a wide range of pace and distance.  You will have people to run with and you will be able to keep up.  Believe me, you’ll be happier in the end.  The beginner group progresses very slowly and I will continue to keep the group running at a very slow pace.  It’s part of the master plan!!!  One last thing here….  if you are already a runner (therefore have a natural pace/gait), running this slow can actually hurt.  I’m happy to explain the physics of a more up and down motion on your hips/knees.  If you’re new to running, this is exactly what you should be doing… developing a gait.  If you already are a runner then that slow pace will create an unhealthy amount of impact on your joints.  Is there anything else I can say to encourage you to move up????  Let me know if you want to discuss this – I’m happy to sit down with any of you individually and talk about how you could transition to the next level in our running group.  Lastly on this topic, if you are already a runner, after a few weeks you’ll be running circles around our true “newbies”.  It’s depressing for them to feel that they are working SOOOOOOO hard and you’re flitting around as though it’s a gentle stroll in the park.  

Let’s talk a bit about more fun things such as shoes and clothes.  We have a deal with Runners Need (there are stores all over London) for 10% off merchandise with them.  Just tell them you are running with me and they will honor that deal.  I would recommend that you wait 3-4 weeks before going in there to buy shoes.  Once you’re ready, they will ask you to run on a treadmill in the store, they will analyse your gait and recommend the appropriate type of shoe.  They don’t always go for the most expensive shoe.  They will give you some options.  Why the wait?  In my opinion, as you start running each person develops a gait and it actually improves (or becomes more efficient) over time.  This happens without us doing anything to “work on” your style.  If you go in now for shoes, they may fit you in shoes that are appropriate for your current gait.  That gait may very well change in the next few weeks so hold off if you can make yourself wait!  If you don’t believe me, read the article in the NY Times from last week.  There is some new research out which suggests this exact concept is true.  It’s an interesting article anyway.  I’ll try to find a way to get you a copy.  Some of you have asked about kit for bad weather.  First of all, we WILL run no matter the weather!  The only time we cancel runs would be for icy conditions which are dangerous.  Otherwise, we run in rain, sleet, snow, hail, etc.  That being said, you might consider buying a good running rain-jacket.  It needs to be lightweight and breathable.  Runners Need sells them as does most of the outdoor shops.  Stanfords on Long Acre sells a great jacket that folds up into a little bag.  It also comes in about 10 different colors so that’s kind of fun.  You might be surprised that we don’t usually have to run in rain.  I’m serious.  Ask Betsy, Syma or Bonnie.  Usually if it’s raining it passes over.  It’s rare we run in heavy rain.  

Congratulations if you’ve made it down this far in the email!!!  It’s getting boring…..  I know!!!  This is the last bit.  Our running group has a website:  I’ll post this email under “Notes from Paula” so if you’re suffering from insomnia sometime in the coming weeks you can go back, read this email and fall straight to sleep!!!  Seriously, there is a lot of information on that website that pertains to more experienced runners.  Please don’t worry too much about the information out there.  Most of it doesn’t apply to new runners.  Once our half-marathon trip starts to firm up, I’ll be posting a lot of information about the trip on the website.  Our program will also be out there as well as some route information if you’re interested.  So the website could be helpful but don’t worry too much about it now.  There are things out there about physios/osteopaths/functional movement specialists/etc.  For the most part, this applies to women who are already runners.  I would suggest that you run for awhile before thinking about seeking specialist advice.  In fact, there is every chance that you’ll make it all the way until the spring and not need any of those special “treatments”.  

That’s it for now.  Ladies, I’m serious here….  you’re doing great.  We are going to be a fabulous group.  Hang in there, keeping coming out to run and you’ll get there.  I’ll do whatever I can to help you through this.  I’ll hold your hand, I’ll piggy-back you if need be.  Just keep showing up and it will happen.  By the spring we’ll all be uber-runners!!!  

I’ll look forward to seeing you next Thursday hearing about how SLOW you ran on Tuesday!

Happy Running,


7 September Note

Hello Beginners!

This is your page!  You’ll find below the series of emails from me and your program that we are following together.  As we progress I’ll be sending you information on nutrition, hydration, training, etc.  You’ll be able to go to this page to access any of that information.  To your left is a photo of some of last year’s beginner runners running the half-marathon in Lisbon.  Look at them go!  This can DEFINITELY be you next spring in Bratislava!

                                Let me know how I can help,


7 September Note