Fundamentals of Running — by Paul Buijs

Paul Bui­js of I Run For You does­n’t like to run, but he loves what he gets from it.

I start­ed run­ning a lit­tle over 15 years ago. It was not because I want­ed to, but because I was ordered to. A team of three fear­less drill instruc­tors at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot on Par­ris Island, SC made sure I got both my time and mileage in — not exact­ly a guar­an­teed way to make one love running.

I con­sid­er myself the aver­age run­ner. I run three to four times a week and will sign up for local 5 and 8ks – the same dis­tances I stick to on my runs. I hon­est­ly don’t like to run but I sure love how I feel after­wards. Activ­i­ties that cre­ate as much con­fi­dence in self are few and far between. Per­son­al­ly, great runs are etched in my mem­o­ry. They are both goals to beat and more impor­tant­ly, reminders of what I’m capa­ble of.

Four years in the Marines taught me a few fun­da­men­tal things about run­ning. You can do it. Just don’t quit on your­self. In spite of any com­pet­i­tive envi­ron­ment you may find your­self in, fin­ish­ing is all that mat­ters. Over the years since then, both what I know about run­ning and how I feel about it have changed. While I still would rather spend my time SCUBA div­ing, road or moun­tain bik­ing, run­ning is the best and eas­i­est way to stay in shape (easy in this case mean­ing the most acces­si­ble). All you need is a good pair of sneak­ers and head out the door.
Now that I’ve been run­ning for a while I’ve learned a few oth­er fundamentals:

  • Nev­er exper­i­ment with diet and sup­ple­men­ta­tion on race day. You would think that would be obvi­ous, but my expe­ri­ence sug­gests otherwise.
  • It is eas­i­er to stay in shape than it is to get back in shape. For those that aren’t in the shape that they want to be in (which is every­one right?), all this means is to stay com­mit­ted.  Even on my bad days where I come no where close to either my time or dis­tance goal I set for myself that day I still feel like I did some­thing good for myself.
  • A good diet won’t make you a good run­ner, but a bad diet will hurt your run­ning. Some ground rules: no car­bon­at­ed any­thing and no sim­ple sug­ars (white breads, sweets, and many juices and sports drinks)

I’ve come to real­ize I’m my own #1 com­peti­tor. I’ve always had a goal in my mind of run­ning a 21 minute three mile and I’ve always stayed around three min­utes out­side of that goal at around 24 min­utes. Almost two years ago I cracked my C4 in my neck in half and had the good for­tune to be put back togeth­er in ful­ly func­tion­al shape. At first I was pissed that had hap­pened to me, espe­cial­ly when I thought I was in the best shape of my life. I’ve come around to take it as a renewed oppor­tu­ni­ty to reach for my long stand­ing goals — of which include that 21:00 minute mark. This focus has led me to cut out drink­ing, ana­lyze my diet and actu­al­ly get out there and run like some­one striv­ing for that goal. I’ve recent­ly start­ed incor­po­rat­ing inter­vals into my runs. And like run­ning itself, the inter­vals have giv­en me the con­fi­dence to know I can run at a faster pace. A cou­ple of days ago I ran a 22:28. I’m so close now I can taste it.

You can read more about Paul’s thoughts of run­ning and sup­port some of his favorite caus­es by vis­it­ing him at I Run For You.