How to Run: General Running

Begin the full running practice by running in terms of time rather than in terms of distance. Run every other day to begin and no more than five days a week thereafter. Plan and follow rest days.

Start with 10 to 15 minutes of quick but not fast running on a low impact surface like grass or loose sand. It is important from the outset to protect the ankles, the knees, and the hips. A low impact surface helps develop good running form and continues the strengthening that began in the conditioning phase by forcing the runner to lift the legs and the knees with each step. Add no more than three minutes of time to the run every seven days.

Once the run is 30 minutes long for at least two weeks, begin to consider the run in terms of distance and increase the distance run in 30 minutes by no more than a half mile every seven days. Plan at least two rest days per week.

After each run, do the following:

  • Butt kicks (50 with 25 on each leg)
  • Straight leg heel walk (100 meters or 50 with 25 on each leg)
  • Straight leg toe touches (50 with 25 on each leg)
  • Backwards run (100 to 200 meters)
  • High knees (50 with 25 on each leg)
  • Elegant Carioca (4 sets of 100 meters)
  • Dynamic ‘limbering’ exercises – swings, gentle pulls, and kicks – for the arms and legs about a 30 seconds each
  • Forward lunges (3 sets of 20 with 10 on each leg)
  • Backward lunges (3 sets of 20 with 10 on each leg)
  • Jump squats (3 sets of 10)
  • Dropped ankle calf raises (2 sets of 10)
  • Lower leg stretches (up to 20 seconds each side, leg, or stretch)
  • Toe lifts (20 big toe lifts and 20 four toe lifts on each foot)
  • Right-over-left/left-over-right stretches (up to 20 seconds each side)
  • Downward facing dog to push up crawl (5 total)

How to Run: Conditioning

Some bodies are lean and long and flexible. Other bodies are stout and powerful. There are bodies that are firm and strong. At the outset, all bodies must prepare for the movement, impact, and duration of running.

Running starts with the feet, moves through ligaments and bones and joints, is controlled by muscles, and is held together by the core. Each of these must be conditioned at the beginning of a running practice.

Condition for three weeks prior to running. Continue conditioning exercises as part of a running practice.

Ashtanga Yoga’s Suryanamaskara A and Suryanamaskara B wake up, warm up, and strengthen the body and focus the mind. Do these first each day in the morning before eating and after a glass or two of water. (Start the video at 24:10)

Ashtanga Yoga Primary Series Sequence
Ashtanga Yoga Primary Series Sequence

Pilates mat routine strengthens the core. Do this every other day. (The video is a demo of each exercise.)

Start with Beginner (yellow) exercises. Move up to Intermediate (yellow plus green in order) exercises when you're able. Follow reps.
Start with Beginner (yellow) exercises. Move up to Intermediate (yellow plus green in order) exercises when you’re able. Follow reps.
Pilates Intermediate Mat Routine
Pilates Intermediate Mat Routine

Jump rope barefoot up to five sets of 200 jumps to strengthen the feet and ankles, improve endurance, and prepare the body for the impact associated with running. Do this on opposite days to the Pilates mat routine.

Up to three sets of 25 jump squats, three sets of 25 forward lunges, and three sets of 25 backward lunges strengthens and lengthens the kinetic chain and largest muscle group in the body to protect from injury and the weakness in the back of the leg that is commonly associated with distance running. Do this every day. Once the running practice has started, do one set each of these lower leg exercises after each run.

Dropped ankle calf raises in three sets of up to 25 strengthen the calf muscles and prevent Achilles’ tendonitis. Do these every day. Once the running practice has started, do one set of this exercise after each run.

Do a variety of dynamic ‘limbering’ exercises – swings, gentle pulls, and kicks – for the arms and legs. Do these every day. Once the running practice has started, do set each these exercises after each run.

Right-over-left/left-over-right stretches where the feet are crossed at the ankles and the body is bent at the waist is a stretch that, when held for up to but no more than 30 seconds on each side after a run prevents shortening and tightening of the piriformis muscle. Do this every day. Once the running practice has started, do this stretch after each run.

How to Run: Why do you run?

The entire self runs, and so the entire self must be prepared to run.

It is important to understand reasons for running and to hold reasons in firm focus.

Some run to meditate.
Some run to relax.
Some run for clarity.
Some run for sheer joy.
Some run for oneness.
Some run to find the threshold of ability and to push beyond it.
Some run for glory and recognition.
Some run to control the body.
Some run for health.

There are many reasons to run. Whatever the reasons, it is important to know them; the reasons root the practice.