Don’t look now, but Ash Wednesday is rapidly approaching. In the Christian calendar, Ash Wednesday kicks off the 40 day period of lent leading up to Easter.
I don’t know why, but there is a tradition within some denominations about giving something up during lent. I’m not completely sure why this is done, but I do know that what you give up is supposed to be something near and dear to you.
Whether or not you feel called to give something up during lent, here is a list of 20 things that runners should never give up.
20 Things Runners Should Not Give Up During Lent (or Ever)
- Coffee–There is plenty of debate about the impact of coffee, but for me it’s a key part of getting the day started and there’s no way I’m going for an early morning run without a cup of joe. Whatever it is that you “need” to do in order to make sure your runs happen, just keep doing.
- Real Food–Feel free to give up pop, processed foods, or any other crap that you know really isn’t good for you. But there is never a need to stop eating fruits and veggies, real meats, or anything else that would be recognized as food back in the late 1800’s.
- Ice Bath–I know some who swear by the ice bath, and I know plenty that will not dip their toe in one, but if you like occasionally torturing yourself by sitting in a tub of ice cold water, keep on keeping on. I don’t do it often, but I always feel refreshed after, whether there are any physiological benefits or not.
- Speed Work–Not matter what distances you run, regular speed work will help you improve in all aspects of running.
- Long Run–If you’re training to run a long-ish race, doing long-ish training runs are vital for adequate preparation. While there is plenty of argument over how long and how fast is too long or too fast, there is very little debate about the importance of putting in a chunk of mileage on a regular basis.
- Tempo Runs–Pushing the pace for 3-5 miles helps improve your lactate threshold, which will pay off on race day no matter how long of a race you’re running
- A Plan–A solid plan for how you will achieve your goals is important so that you know if you’re on the right track or not. Too often, and I’ve been guilty of this myself, runners just run without any idea of what they are trying to achieve. A plan keeps you moving forward strategically.
- Strength Training–There are so many reasons that runners need to do strategic strength training on a regular basis that it is still a bit surprising how many continue to overlook it.
- Foam Roller–Using a foam roller to give yourself a massage is seldom an enjoyable experience, but it is almost always well worth it. Make sure you hit your IT Bands, calves, and quads on a regular basis.
- Stretching–There are just as many that say that stretching doesn’t help prevent injuries as say that it does. In my experience, whether or not stretching helps me to stay healthy, I know that I feel better after getting a good stretch/doing yoga. If you’re in the same boat, keep stretching.
- Running Hills–There are so many benefits of running hills, that I honestly wish we had better hills here in Florida to train on. One mistake that many people make, however, is neglecting to train hard on the downhills. If you can learn how to run fast on the declines, you’ll never fear a hilly race again.
- Foot Care–From blisters and calluses to ingrown toe nails and plantar fasciitis, we beat up our feet as runners. Keep taking care of your dogs, and they’ll take care of you. Speaking of which…
- Good Shoes–You can do without a lot of running “necessities”, but if there is one investment runners should never skimp on it is for quality footwear. By all means, shop the sales and look for deals, but getting the right shoe for you instead of just the cheapest is vitally important here.
- Sleep–There is no magic number of hours of sleep we “need” each night. That said, most people don’t get enough sleep. If you’re getting tired in the evening, go to bed y’all! Even if it’s only 9:00, your body is trying to tell you something.
- Water–As runners, staying adequately hydrated is important for a number of reasons, from cooling our bodies on the run to preventing cramping. So stay hydrated!
- Injury Prevention–Why do (statistically at least) 70% of runners get injured each year? I wager that it is because we are too focused on running and not focused enough on everything else. Strength training, hydration, sleep, and many other factors play a key roll in staying healthy for the long run (pun intended). Don’t sacrifice the injury prevention routine, or you’ll eventually come to regret it.
- Running Solo–There is something about getting out there by yourself. For me, I’m able to do some of my best thinking while I’m running by myself, and I know plenty of people that are able to just completely unplug their minds from the daily hustle and bustle with a few solo miles.
- Running with a Group–As much as I need some solo runs, I need group runs just as badly. Running with others helps to build a sense of community, creates great friendships, and allows for some friendly competition that allows everyone to improve.
- Racing–There is just something about racing once in a while to keep the motivation for training high. Even if it’s just a local 5k, nothing forces me to push myself like and official race with an official time. And I know I’m not the only one that thinks this way.
- Have Fun–If there is one thing that you should never sacrifice as a runner it is the simple enjoyment of our sport. If running ever gets stale or tedious, just take a break for a few weeks, and you’ll be itching to get back out there ASAP. And it’ll be fun again, I promise.
In the hustle and bustle of life, we all have to make sacrifices from time to time. But when it comes to running, these are the things that I will never sacrifice on, and I’d encourage you to be equally hesitant if you’re trying to decide what to give up during lent.