Embark on a transformative journey with our comprehensive guide on running smarter, faster, and more effectively. This article unveils 40 invaluable insights gained over 26 years, offering a blend of mental and physical strategies to elevate your running experience. Whether you’re seeking to avoid common pitfalls, enhance your training routine, or explore unique running perspectives, this piece is a goldmine of wisdom tailored for runners at any stage.
Please keep reading (or watch or listen to it above and below).
In this issue, I decided to go back in time 12 months ago and
finally finish getting closer to finishing that list of those 40 things about running that I wish I had known 25 26 years back. Yes, this list is taking a while to complete, but that’s just how I roll sometimes.
In part one, some epic stuff was said, and even more epic failures were done. But with part two, I wanted to dig deep into more of the mental stuff I’ve learned, as well as the physical. I also got through those first 13 things and said to myself, “💩… this is getting way too long; let me break this up into three parts before I bore these kind folks that took the precious time to read this thing.”
So I present part two, 16 more things I wish I had known 26 years back in the world. (If you’re keeping score at home, that’s 29 things in total. Part three should wrap it all up, and I’ve learned a lot about this long listicle-formatted newsletter… never again… I think.)
Remember, this is meant to be an open letter written to my 16-year-old self; very conversational and casual, so please excuse any grammatical errors or typos.
14. Having a partner who trains as much as you is cool until you have a kid
My partner and I realized this a few months after we had our (amazing) son. She trains just as much (if not more) than me, and the logistical challenges of getting schedules right, training early, fitting in a workout, etc., are nothing short of getting a PhD in rocket science.
It’s just a game of wack-o-mole. One thing pops up, I hit it, and then it moves to the other side of the board, and I gotta figure out how to do the other thing. I wouldn’t trade it in for anything (The kid/partner/family thing) but yeah, way more complex than I thought.
This, as with most of these, could be an episode/issue of its own. Maybe in the future, I’ll do a deep dive on how actually to navigate this. Let me know if you are interested.
15. Training in the morning > Training in the afternoon
You know why? Because afternoons bring out the time thieves.
A time thief sneaks up on you and before you know it, it’s 7 pm, and you’re still sitting at your desk. They also like to ask me to do things for their own good. Some could argue that is probably good for me at times, but the control freak in me doesn’t like it one bit.
But the morning is the clean slate so you’re fresh and ready to conquer the day.
16. Do a night run every now and then if you always train in the morning and vice versa
You might be saying – But Daren, I always train in the morning. What’s the big deal?” Well… the big deal is that you gotta switch it up occasionally.
Do a night run. It’s like seeing the world in 3D full color after watching it on a TV From 1967.
17. Run your favorite loop backwards
Running it backwards is like ordering a pizza with the toppings on the bottom. It’s a game-changer but is still really the same thing. Running my favorite loop backwards can make it seem like a completely different route.
You’ll be able to notice different things and see familiar sights from a new perspective.
This info is fun and all, but the real transformation to become 1% better in your running and life happens from you. If you don’t know exactly how to do it, I have a few coaching spots open for smart and committed runners. If you know of one (or you are one) reply to this email or go here.
18. Rain running is an amazing cleansing experience
I’ve always loved running in the rain. I’ve never felt worse after running in the rain (unless it’s freezing cold rain and I’m standing around after my run cold and wet).
Something about the fact that you’re wet but in this moment alone, it’s fine. I even don’t mind that my socks are wet. It’s always best when I’ve been running and then it starts raining (vs starting when it’s a downpour) but with both, I get used to it quite quickly.
Other activities that are great in the rain; walking, hiking and even swimming (you’re already wet!) Cycling in the rain is a huge no-no for me (sorry I’m soft) mainly because the wind is hitting me and cooling me down.
19. Running in the cold and heat makes you less sensitive to extreme weather*
Running in extreme weather conditions is like getting a superpower. You become less sensitive to the cold and heat, and suddenly I’m like a Marvel superhero going up against Thanos.
I’m building up a tolerance – and the more I expose myself to different weather conditions, the easier it becomes to handle them. Just make sure you’re dressing appropriately and sensible. Running as hard or as far as possible on the hottest day of the year isn’t smart. The same goes for extreme cold temperatures.
We’ll be doing a future deep dive on this in my This or That series with Remy B Reel.
20. Running on a windy day isn’t as bad as you think if you do a loop
I know running on a windy day can be a pain, but hear me out. If you do a loop, you get headwinds, side winds, and before you know it, a tailwind so you’ll feel like you’re flying like a kite aka “The Hand of God”
Running a loop can help you take advantage of the tailwind and make the headwind more bearable. Just make sure to dress appropriately and be mindful of any debris that might be blowing around and getting into your eyes.
21. I don’t like running in crowded places
Crowded places aren’t great. My agoraphobia spikes pretty hard in these situations. It’s like being stuck in traffic but on foot… and your sweat is drying.
And don’t let it be cold… cold sweat drying is not great. See #25 for more info.
22. Running off-road is also another refreshing experience
There’s something about running through nature that feels right. It’s almost like nature is how we were meant to run and not the pavement.
Plus, the soft, uneven terrain and obstacles can help improve your balance, and coordination and help reduce injury.
23. Running is a supplemental form of “passive mediation”, but doesn’t replace “real meditation”
It’s like taking a mental break while getting your body moving. But realistically speaking it doesn’t replace the real thing.
Running can help me clear my head, but still important for me to find moments of stillness and introspection in my day-to-day life as well as where I’m not moving.
I’ve found running on days when I meditate after I run to really “hit the spot” by clearing my monkey neurodivergent brain.
24. Running without music or a podcast in your ears is again therapeutic and cleansing
Running without music or a podcast in my ears is extremely welcomed with all the noise that infiltrates my brain daily.
Using music/podcasts as a tool vs the norm makes the act of running the actual payoff vs getting (insert your audio fix) on.
It allows me to focus on my thoughts and emotions and tune in to my body and surroundings.
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25. I’m never as cold later in the run as when I start
It’s like jumping into a cold pool – you get used to it quite quickly and suddenly it’s not so bad.
This is an obvious reason why this works, but just in case you want to know the biological science behind it:
My body will warm up quickly once I get moving, so the key I’ve found is to not overdress and make myself too hot and uncomfortable and now I’m stuck with a bunch of layers that I want to rip off 20 minutes into a run.
This seems to be a universal truth that applies to most outdoor activities. No matter how bundled up I am, the first few minutes of my run will always feel colder than the rest.
26. Carbs are not the devil as I originally thought
Carbs are not the enemy – I repeat they are not the enemy. For runners, they are very much needed and yes you can consume carbs if you are doing a low-carb diet and you run a lot as you are burning them for instant fuel in your runs.
When I eat the right carbs either the night before, the morning before, during or after, I feel literally 5 times better and I have more “spring” in my step and I want to run fast.
This leads me to #27…
27. Running in a low-carb state all the time isn’t worth the hassle
I can run very well in a fat-adapted/low-carb state for most runs, but for high-performing people who want to run their best – it’s not worth it to always be in this state of low-carb.
It’s like going to a vegan restaurant and trying to order a steak.
While running in a fat-adapted state can have benefits, it’s not worth it for most people. It can be difficult to maintain and can lead to a lack of energy and decreased performance.
28. Proper Protein is crucial for recovery
So much new information and studies have said it – I (and runners in general) need a lot of protein to help maintain and build muscle. And because I do quite a lot of strength training with a combination of fast/hard/long runs/workouts, I really do need quite a lot.
You can get it in a multitude of ways, but the best science says to consume animal proteins (vegans… feel free to argue with me and/or drop a reply, message or comment).
You can consume vegan protein powders and food is adequate, but they don’t get converted as well (debatable?!).
Also – Creatine is my best friend. Most people are fine with 5g per day at any time of day.
PS – Taking in carbs with protein helps “Shuttle” it to the right place to get used better (the carbs give the protein “energy”).
Purposefully not running as much in the offseason and focusing on other activities allows me to rarely burn out (mentally/physically) from running.
Purposefully not running as much in the offseason is the key I’ve found. I actually am craving the structure of the run season vs “ugh another v02max workout on a Tue” which I’ve had that reaction many times.
Bonus – When I incorporate other types of cross training I end up gamifying those and coming up with structures and routines anyway (I’m that type of person) so I do get my fix of “schedule and discipline” but with a bunch more variety
What did I miss?
What have you learned in your career as a distance runner?
Reply to this and let me know, hit me on YouTube comments or Instagram DMs.