Being A Runner

by Cherie Gruenfeld January 18, 2017 3 min read

Being A Runner

Runners come in all shapes and sizes, male and female, young and old. We can find dozens of differences, but I promise you, all runners have one thing in common - we all want to run faster.

And there’s probably a second thing we have in common – we want to keep running forever!

So how are we to accomplish these two things?

I’ve been running for thirty years. I started when I was 42, which tells you I know a thing or two about trying to run forever. And I’ve spent all of those thirty years trying to increase or maintain speed.

Here are a few of my thoughts:

Never Lose the Joy of Running

A run can help clear your head and let you tackle a problem you’ve been struggling with. A focused training run can leave you feeling stronger and more confident. A run during sunrise is the perfect way to start the day.

Whatever the reason you’re running, even if you’re not feeling your best, you’ll always finish being glad you stuck with it.

When you’re feeling the joy, you’re running relaxed. And speed comes from getting your head out of the way, relaxing and simply enjoying the “feel” of the run.

Age: It’s Just a Number

Clearly, the number 42 means you’ll run faster than when you’re looking at 72. I’ve been both and I’m telling you – it’s true. However, if you’re willing to keep pushing yourself hard, set challenging goals and train smart, speed does not have to drop as dramatically as you’d expect. My advice: Go into every race using last year’s time as your target. The goal is to beat it and you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how often you’re able to make it happen.

Look Good, Run Better

I have a picture of Mirinda Carfrae (3x Ironman World Champion) burned into my mind. At a moment’s notice, I can visualize her perfect running form and, with that image in my mind, I stand a little taller, push my chest out and tilt forward, relax my shoulders, arms and hands and lift my knees a little higher. I want anyone watching me, to think….There goes a good runner.

Find your own picture of a runner that will evoke that kind of response in you, kicking you into better form and a faster run.

Fast Feet

Speed doesn’t come when your feet are planted on the ground. Speed comes from moving through the air after pushing off the ground. So it makes sense that you’d want to spend as little time on the ground as possible. I like to think of the ground as being hot coals that I can avoid by getting my feet up quickly.

This helps maintain a quick turnover and a light step, which will contribute to both speed and less injury.

Be a Back-Half Runner

Running negative splits (running faster at the end than in the beginning) has several major benefits:

  • It teaches you good pacing. We’ve all experienced that terrible feeling of having gone out too fast. Burning too many matches, in the beginning, will leave you with nothing in the finishing miles.
  • It builds mental and physical strength so that you can hold on with a strong pace in the back-half of the race when fatigue is truly setting in.

“Hills are Speedwork in Disguise” - Frank Shorter, ’72 Olympic Marathon gold medalist

Hills require physical strength to run well and mental strength to maintain the will to hold on to the top. If these hills happen to be trails, there are several other benefits:

  • Softer surface, softer impact
  • Works on body awareness and balance as you avoid hazards
  • Strengthens legs and core
  • Builds ankle strength and stability
  • Less boring and less traffic

I’m still working on speed and plan to run forever.

I hope to see you out there.

Good luck

Cherie Gruenfeld
Cherie Gruenfeld

Sixteen Ironman Age Group Wins Worldwide Nine-time World #1-ranked Amateur Ironman Triathlete. 2000 WTC Female Age Grouper of the Year 2001, 2007 USA Triathlon Female Grandmaster of the Year. Multiple-time USAT All-American Team (#1 Rank) "Everyday Champion" featured on Wheaties Energy Crunch cereal box. “My first triathlon was a Half IM in ’92 which qualified me for the IM World Championships in Kona. In ’92 in lived in Santa Monica, but now live in the Palm Springs desert with my husband, Lee, who is my biggest fan and supporter. He also writes and takes photos for the World Triathlon Corporation at many of my races. At the end of 2015, I announced my retirement from Ironman racing and am now focusing on 70.3s. My 2016 goal is to win the 70.3 World title in the W70-74 and setting a new course record.” For more information: http://www.cheriegruenfeld.com/


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