A lot of runners start running through a “learn to run” program. This isn’t how I learned to run, I just decided one day that I was going to be a better running and slowly with a lot of determination it happened. But out of the two scenarios, I don’t think that my way is the smarter option.
When friends or acquaintances ask me about running and how far I can run, most people’s first reaction is “I could never be a runner” and I always follow this with “of course you can, if you really want to!”.
When someone seems semi interested in the whole idea, I usually offer to teach them to run. No one has ever taken me up on this offer until recently. My co-worker and close friend finally got sick of hearing me talk about running and decided that she wanted to try it for herself.
In late September we started running. The first time we did one minute of walking and one minute of running ten times. With a couple hiatuses, which are mostly my fault, we are now up to three minutes of running and one minute of walking ten times. This week for the first time one of our runs surpassed 5km, that was a big milestone for us! The goal is that eventually to be able to make it 5km without walking. I think we’ll be there in no time!
Here’s what I’ve learned from teaching someone to run:
- Pacing by feel is a learned concept. When we first started running, I let my friend take the lead pace-wise because I didn’t want to push too hard. It turned out that she would always go out too fast and be exhausted a few intervals in. Now, I’ve figured out I should set the pace, at least at the beginning when there’s a lot of temptation to go fast.
- Things get a lot easier as time goes on. When we went from 1:30min to 2min intervals, there was a real struggle so we spent two or three sessions at that interval before moving on to three minutes. The jump to three minutes turned out to be no big deal and I think that we’ll be able to start increasing interval time significantly now.
- It’s like getting to go back in time to when I was a new runner. While the intervals aren’t hard for me, I see the pain and I see the joy and I get to be part of it too. Every milestone is a milestone for both of us.
This process has turned out to be really rewarding. My friend told me the other day that she thought that she really liked running now. If I’ve shown one person the power of running, I think that’s one of the most important things that I’ve done this year.
Did you do a learn to run program? Have you every taught anyone to run?