Give Me 5 Minutes And I’ll Give You The Secrets to 25 Years of Joyful Running!

Yesterday as I ran 22 snowy, frigid miles in preparation for my historic 20th marathon in Phoenix, I began to contemplate the sheer joy of running that has transformed me into a lifetime athlete with a resting heartbeat of 48-52.

My running journey began in 1985 with a fitness college class that required a certain number of aerobic points for an “A.” The fastest way to earn the maximum number of points was running, and my crowded schedule (I was working full-time and commuting 45 miles each way to attend college full-time as an older student with a wife and two children) demanded the fastest way.

A love affair with running began that has continued to this day.

I do not take lightly the good health required to run consistently for 25 years. But I wonder, could the good health be a result of the running?

I think so.

Running has improved my quality of life, enhanced my creativity, and taught me volumes about determination, discipline and goal-setting. It also gets me outside and my personality needs mega-doses of Vitamin D.

Here are six secrets to a lifetime of joyful running:

1. Galloway Training Method — I heard Olympic marathoner Jeff Galloway explain his running method years ago at a Disney Marathon Expo. It instantly made sense to me. I had completed three marathons using various training methods, but resolved to immediately adopt the Galloway method.

At the risk of oversimplification, you run for a certain amount of minutes, and then walk for a certain amount of minutes.

For me, that translates into running six minutes and then walking one minute—for the entire run. I discovered that even though I was walking every six minutes as opposed to running the entire race, my marathon times were instantly faster. This method is a great way to start running and enjoying it. The one minute walk provides opportunity to relax physically and emotionally and smell the roses. It also helps promote injury-free running.

I had two arthroscopic knee surgeries from basketball injuries before my running began, yet never experienced knee problems utilizing this method. My first three traditional “run-every-step’ marathons, I was in excruciating pain and was unable to walk properly for days. Utilizing the Galloway method, recovery was 95% the following day—with better finish times! Amazing but true.

My previous personal best time was 4:23  for my first run-every-step-of-the-way marathon at age 34. Utilizing the Galloway method, fifteen years older at age 49, I set a new personal best of 4:01.

The Galloway method is the number one secret for running and ENJOYING it!!

2. The Correct Shoe and Socks — After my first marathon, I lost all ten toenails, my size twelve feet were bruised and blistered, and I could barely walk. It took two additional marathons to realize it didn’t have to be that way. I e-mailed a Runners World magazine expert about my feet and he suggested trying a shoe with a wider toe box. Viola! The next marathon I retained all my toenails and my feet thanked me for days. I have worn Asics Gel Kayano’s from that day forward. I swear by them!

I also have extremely soft feet. A double layer sock made by Wright completely eliminated the blisters.

The correct shoes and socks are the number two secrets for running and ENJOYING it!

3. Garmin Forerunner Watch — My friend and running partner John (a cardiologist) first gifted me with a Garmin Forerunner 305 GPS Receiver With Heart Rate Monitor running watch eight years ago. It changed my running forever. It tells your pace, average pace, elapsed distance, calories burned, time of day, heartbeat, elevation, and even calls someone to pick you up when you are tired. Ha! Okay it doesn’t do the last one.

The number one reason people fail to complete a marathon is starting too fast. The Garmin erases that mistake forever! My friend and running partner Spence (an Ironman Triathlete) just gifted me with the new Garmin Forerunner 310XT Waterproof Running GPS With Heart Rate Monitor. I used it for the first time yesterday, and I am in love!!

The Garmin Forerunner Watch is the number three secret for running and ENJOYING it!!

4. The Right Clothes — One word. Layer. A running mentor taught me the adage that if you feel warm as you warm-up, then you have too many clothes on. Of course, I suppose if I had known that adage during my running days in South Florida, I would have been running nude most of the time.

Seriously, I use dri-fit running clothes. Here are my clothing rules:

Over 50 degrees—regular running attire: Dri-fit short sleeve shirt, running shorts, shoes and socks.

40-50 degrees: One dri-fit short sleeve shirt, One dri-fit long sleeve shirt, running shorts, gloves, shoes and socks.

33-40 degrees: Two dri-fit short sleeve shirts, One dri-fit long sleeve shirt, running pants, gloves, toboggan, shoes and socks.

25-32 degrees: Three dri-fit short sleeve shirts, One dri-fit long sleeve shirt, running tights, gloves, toboggan, ear muffs and shoes and socks.

25-under: I try not to run. Seriously. I don’t enjoy it. I move running days around if at all possible. If you live in a frigid environment, please leave a comment and tell us what you wear.

The right clothes are the number four secrets for running and ENJOYING it!!

5. Running to Eat & Drink — Some people eat in order to run, but I run in order to eat. My running helps me stay at a reasonable weight (not the best—but reasonable) while enjoying most of the food and drink I wish to consume. Two of the greatest joys of life for me are eating and drinking. Running helps me continue to enjoy the sacramental life.

I usually lose around 20 pounds during training for each marathon (during one vigorous marathon training—I lost 48 pounds!)  So I suppose that means if I did not run, I would weigh an additional 400 pounds.

During my run, I am usually fantasizing about the meal I will eat to celebrate completing the run. I run to eat and drink!

Eating and drinking are the number five secrets for running and ENJOYING it!!

6. Understanding the Rhythm of Running —Most people do not understand this simple secret. Just because you feel like crap at the beginning of a run does not mean it will be a crappy finish. Get started.  Take the first step. Many days when I feel horrible at the beginning of a run—I have my best runs.

Also, there are rhythms of good and bad feelings during a run. Yesterday, during my 22 miles, my legs felt exhausted at mile 11, but as I continued,  the tired feeling went away and I actually finished the last eight miles feeling much stronger and refreshed than usual. Having a sense of rhythm in your mind helps eliminate the games your mind plays during a run. If you are feeling bad, hang on, you will probably get to feeling better.

Of course, this is a general rule. All of us have runs that are crap from beginning to end. Just endure them and know most runs will be better.

Understanding the Rhythm of Running is the number six secret for running and ENJOYING it!!

How about you?

Are you a runner or not?

If not, do you want to run and enjoy it?

If you are, do you have more secrets to add?

67 Responses to “Give Me 5 Minutes And I’ll Give You The Secrets to 25 Years of Joyful Running!”

  1. “25-under” – Inside on a treadmill. :)
    Rocco Capra´s last blog post ..The Summit- Faith Beyond Everest’s Death Zone

  2. Hey Randy
    Great blog. You’re looking great man! I started running with a friend when I hit Nashville four years ago. I never thought I’d EVER be able to run up hills… so we’d walk them. A runner friend, Natalie visited from Australia… she MADE us run up the hills and would always be off in the distance ahead of us… when she got too far ahead she’d run back to us and see if we were still alive… My friend and I continued running (including up hills) after she left and we had a little slogan ‘WWND’ :-) when we felt like giving up.

    I also never thought I’d ever run 2 miles without stopping until I had this crazy idea to start training for a half marathon… then one day without even realising it… 2-3 miles became the minimum runs! Unfortunately the half marathon didn’t happen that year because I sprained my ankle!

    I wouldn’t be surprised if your health is related to your running. At the beginning of this year due to heavy touring, traveling and relocating processes my running petered off. In May I hurt my back and it’s not better yet – six months later. Part of me wonders if my back problems re-occurred because I’d stopped exercising as much. Now I dream of the day I’ll be healed and able to run again. It’s a crushing feeling having a 70 year old couple overtake you while walking!

    Keep it up Randy!
    Joy Argow´s last blog post ..My new blog layout

  3. On a serious note…Do you listen to any music while you run?

    This is a great post! I am a runner, not lately due to some health issues, but in a couple months I will be back at it!
    Rocco Capra´s last blog post ..The Summit- Faith Beyond Everest’s Death Zone

    • @Rocco Capra, I am one of the few weird ones that does not listen to music.

      I prefer to think. I have a post about thinking and i really take it seriously. Also, music was my career for 30 plus years, so my running is a break from my “work.”

      I usually compose poetry (for my eyes only), compose blog posts, think about new ideas, fantasize about food and wine, etc. Ha!

  4. Randy…I think this is my first time to read your blog and wanted to say thanks for the running tips! I started running on 9/26/10, so I’m an extremely new runner and very late to the sport. I started running because I’m tired of being over weight and feeling crappy and because I also love to eat and drink. :)

    I started training exactly 9 weeks before I was to run my first 5K with friends and was doing very well until I came down with Bronchitis/Pneumonia and missed the 5K. It’s now been 2 weeks since I’ve been able to run, but now, after reading your post today, I’m excited to get back out there and back to running. Thanks!

    • @Kyle Stickens, Yes, two of the four years I have missed running a marathon in the past 25 years was due to pneumonia.

      It is important NOT to run when you have any lung congestion at all. The bacteria can go straight to your heart and kill you.

      My cardiologist running partner was adamant about that.

      So make sure your lungs are completely clear before resuming.

  5. Excellent secrets about running!

    I agree with all of them and especially LOVE #1 … I’ve been experimenting with the run/walk method and find that I feel better during the run and recover much better than if I run continually.

    I haven’t run a full marathon in a number of years, but am dreaming of it. Prior to trying the run/walk method I didn’t think my injured body (severe accident injuries) could handle it, but now I’m dreaming … maybe someday I can run one again … wow, that would surprise the doctors who weren’t sure I would ever even walk again.
    Janet Oberholtzer´s last blog post ..Merry Xmas or Happy Holidays

    • @Janet Oberholtzer, Yes, it is amazing what a runner utilizing the run-walk method can accomplish.

      My friend Tammy had a horrendous car accident with severe internal and external injuries, broken ankle and much more—and somehow she completed a marathon the next year.

      It was an amazing feat that Galloway made possible.

  6. One more thing … I’m sharing this article with all my running friends and with family/friends that don’t run, but need to :)
    Janet Oberholtzer´s last blog post ..Merry Xmas or Happy Holidays

  7. I live in Wisconsin and *LOVE* running in December, January, and February outside – I’d rather be outside in January in the snow than slogging in 80 degrees in August…

    I’ll be going out today and the temps will be low 20’s before the wind. My gear: shoes, socks, compression tights, dri-fit long sleeve, running jacket, gloves, and headband to cover the ears.

    Generally I’ll do the first mile on the dreadmill to warm up a bit and then go out. I find the cold invigorating.

    My one problem is absolutely going out too fast – how does the Garmin help stop that? Just by seeing your pace?

  8. Cindy Heritage December 7, 2010 at 08:50

    Randy,
    Great thoughts. Here are a few comments from a fellow marathoner. I actually went up a 1/2 size in shoe which kept my toes (and their nails) from falling off. It took me a while to be willing to go to a size 9 1/2 shoe since my vanity seemed more important that my toes.
    I listen to music while running, but very low just a background. I too do some of my best thinking while running. The music helps me get into my rhythm and the focus of my running by blocking out extraneous stuff. This being said, I keep it low also to be able to hear cars, bikes, and other runners. I don’t want to be completely oblivious!
    For those with tight muscles after a run there is a great natural product called Sombra that I use, particularly at night when my legs seem to cramp up.
    Hope to see you at the race. Sounds like we both have goals to finish at about the same time.
    Cindy

  9. Nate Ernsberger December 7, 2010 at 09:12

    As someone who use the Yankee description of the word toboggan, I am really curious how pulling a seven-foot wooden snow sled helps your cold-weather runs!

  10. i WANT to enjoy running/walking but have not reached that point yet. thanks for the encouragement…

    i did attempt a half-marathon but got overheated and sick at mile 10… i plan to try again….

  11. Danya Clairmont December 7, 2010 at 11:29

    Well, I was looking forward to this blog post after you gave the teaser yesterday. Earlier in the summer I started running using the C25K program and actually got up to running 25-30 minutes straight. This is from me, who never ran 1/4 mile before in my life! I was very proud of myself.

    However, the cold Michigan weather arrived and alas, I haven’t run in close to 2 months. We are going to get a treadmill so I am going to start again, but I just need motivation!

    I’m going to share this blog with my runner friends!

  12. I started running in June of 2009 as a part of losing weight and getting in shape. I hit my goal weight of 135 (I’m only 5’7″) in July of 2010 and running was a significant part of that. I too run to eat and drink – fantasizing about food is sometimes the primary thing that motivates me when I get tired!

    I’m now averaging about 40 miles per week and my runs vary between 5 miles and 10 miles in length.

    Our family just moved to Fort Collins, CO from Fayetteville, AR, so I’ve been growing in my cold-weather running skills. The temperature for the Thanksgiving day 4 miler here was 12 degrees at the start!

    So, here’s what I wear when the temperature is between 10-25 degrees: Long sleeve running shirt (my favorite is a Saucony with a half-zip), Brooks running jacket (windproof and waterproof, but very light), Beanie, Fleece gloves (I add handwarmers if the temp is below 20), Tights, Smartwool socks, Shoes. (I made the mistake of wearing this exact setup this morning when it was 30 degrees and I was hot!)

    I have yet to run in temperatures below 10 degrees, but I think I would add a thin fleece layer between my shirt and jacket as well as a pair of looser running pants over the tights.

    Running my first Marathon on May 1 (The Colorado Marathon)!

  13. Yeah! I loved this post Randy! I was a big runner in college, when I could do a 5:22 mile. But now, I’m quite a bit slower, find it more painful, and struggle with the motivation amongst an already busy life.
    Last month I ran a half marathon with my wife. For her, it was her first, and it was a goal to get back in shape after having our first child. For me, it was my second, and since I did pretty good last time (2:11), I think I took the challenge lightly. Now, in my defense the race WAS in Houston, the Humidity City, and at mile 5 my wife started pulling away… didn’t see her again until she came walking back to find out where her husband was. She finished at 2:14 an awesome first race for her! Me, both legs cramped up, even at my snail’s pace. My victory was all mental, finishing was the hardest thing I’d ever done physically!
    Today, I’m struggling with my love/hate relationship with running, and am hoping to tilt it back toward LOVE!
    Thanks for the tips Randy! I’m definitely going to start using Galloway’s Method! That, and post-run FOOD!

  14. Hmm.. I’ve always wanted to start running consistently, but everytime I do so I always get bored… I mean it’s just running? It’s not even a sport, and unless you got a funny running partner to chat with, it’s just you… but I’ll try the envisioning about food tip.. maybe it will help.
    Henway´s last blog post ..Medifast Recipes Experiences

    • @Henway, Yes, the food definitely helps. And for some weird reason, I consider running a sport. And yes, much of the time I run alone.

      So, I understand where you are coming from.

  15. Great Blog.

    I started running in 2008. A friend encouraged me to start running when I was quitting smoking for a healthy alternative. I am so thankful she challenged me to run my first marathon and helped me overcome my addiction. I am a very goal oriented person and it was a wonderful experience. It wasn’t until this last summer, as I was training for my second marathon, that I realized I loved running. I came home from a Sat morning 10 mile run exhilarated, and not because training was going well but because the run was such a joy. Since that day, I have started calling myself a runner instead of it just being something I do.

    If I was going to add a secret, it would be one for women. I would tell them to give yourself permission. It can be hard to separate yourself and do something that is so much for yourself, hard to not feel guilty when you are leaving the house on a Sat morning for a long run instead of doing the wife and mother things. But, if you ask my husband, my selfish runs (as I use to word it) benefit our whole family, I am healthier, and in better shape at 35 than I was at 29, and the mental break allows me more patience and less moments of being overwhelmed. We deserve it, so I say, give yourself permission to run and it will free you up to enjoy your running and more of the rest of your life.

    Thank you for the great post.
    Angela´s last blog post ..Motivation

  16. started running november 2009.

    this year i completed 2 sprint tri’s, 1 olympic tri and celebrated the one year anniversary of my journey to health by doing ironman distance over the course of a week.

    i’ve never felt better… and, i never plan to stop.

    awesome post. thank you.

    • @carolynmejia, Wow!!! Carolyn, you are WAY ahead of me!!!

      Congrats!!

      • @Randy Elrod, uuuuuum…. i think….. actually no, i’m certain that failed to come across the way it sounded in my head. you know, the amazing thing about running/tri’s is the real competition is between you and yourself. everyone else you get to run WITH.

        what i was trying to say (so, poorly) was — i did it… i’m doing it. i get it. i share your love for it. i hope i’m still doing it when i leave this planet. and i really love learning from others who have successfully loved it it for a loooong time.

        we’re just getting started, really. ;)

        • @carolynmejia, Thanks so much!! I totally got your meaning. I am just proud of anyone who can do the swimming part of the tri’s. That is what I meant. I suck at swimming.

          Thanks for the clarification, but not necessary.

  17. Thanks for the insights Randy! I ran my first marathon in Portland this last October & recorded my experience here: http://joemacias.com/2010/10/12/26-2/ I plan to run the Seattle Rock n Roll Marathon in 2011 to pursue a specific time goal. Not sure yet if I will make marathons part of my annual rhythm, so reading your experience of 20 marathons helps push me in that direction!

    • @Joe, Also Randy, do you have any thoughts on the advantages of investing in a Garmin watch vs. using an iPhone app to track your stats?
      Joe´s last blog post ..Saturday Shot

      • @Joe, I’m not sure how the iphone app works. Do you take it with you on your runs?

        That would bother me. I don’t like ANYTHING extra.

        And i LOVE the light weight of the new Garmin.

        • @Randy Elrod, The iPhone is strapped to your upper arm, which I think might get annoying after 10 miles or so…and I don’t think it would provide heart rate info. But the bonus for music listeners is that is doubles as an mp3 player on your run.
          Joe´s last blog post ..Saturday Shot

  18. Randy ~ this is a great post for me to read this week! I officially run my first 1/2 marathon this Saturday and I am very excited about it.
    I definitely need to think about seriously doing the Galloway training method as I want to start training for a marathon in the next year. My goal is to eventually qualify for the Boston marathon!
    Becky´s last blog post ..Life

  19. Thanks for the clothes tips. My hardest part of running in the cold is figuring out what to wear. I agree 100% about shoes – got fitted at a running store in Dallas – learned I was wearing the wrong size shoe!

  20. Awesome post, Randy! Thanks for reminding me that I did enjoy running at one time! Time to hit the pavement once again.
    And for the record– point 5 was my favorite!
    Meredith Dunn´s last blog post ..May Our Hearts Be Turned

  21. Randy — do you prefer a particular stride? When I ran in high school, I fell into taking long strides and landing on my heels, which beat my knees up (I joke now in my 30s that I can’t sneak up on anyone). It put me off running for years, until I read Michael Hyatt’s blog last year and thought there might be other options. Now I’ve been running again for a year, using shorter strides and a mid-foot/ball strike, and find that I have very little pain.

    Oh, and I’m with you about running outside; I live in Maine and run in pretty much any weather–even snowstorms. Layers are key. I don’t have any specialized running clothes, so I usually wear long underwear, then sweatpants, then nylon warm-up pants to cut the wind and snow. On top is a long-sleeve t-shirt, a sweatshirt, and a windbreaker or ski parka. I also wear a knit cap, or a fleece ski-mask when it’s brutal. Even cold-weather gear must be light and easily removed–typically by end of run my outer layers are tied around my waist, and my gloves are in my pockets. I wear L.L.Bean day-hikers, and if it’s sloppy, slip shopping bags on over my socks to cut the wet (stylish, I know). I’d rather sweat a little then have sopping, freezing feet.

    Thanks for the post!
    Ray Cullins´s last blog post ..Why I Create

  22. What a great article! Thanks for the Galloway tip(I will try it tomorrow) and I am getting a Forerunner 310!

  23. I was a runner for many years but haven’t run for quite some time now. I think that it’s time to get back into it. I’d like to run the Music City Marathon (well, maybe start with the half). And I think I identify with the idea of running to eat.

    Good tips – thanks for sharing!
    Jeff Goins´s last blog post ..Advent and Christmas- Journeys and Destinations

  24. Hello! I just have to say the post about hate transforming to love…..IT’S SO TRUE!!! Oh my gosh!
    Michigan here…so, if I’d have known all these years that to like winter just a LITTLE, all I had to do was HATE running so much I LOVED IT, wow!!!! I’m out there. I’m not outside everyday, but I am out there in the cold! Husband and I trained for a full starting in May this year. Running in the heat is not fun. I say…go for it, no matter what the weather. I do have a treadmill for the unbearable days, and I will probably force myself to use the treadmill more than braving the cold. But still, I’m getting it done!

  25. Love the post, Randy! I have found these 6 secrets to be true for me, too. Like you, I’m in training for a race and I found your words encouraging and motivating this morning – which I needed. Thank you for this post!

  26. I need to get myself one of those watches! Usually i run with my iPhone which, on longer runs at least can get really irritating to carry.

    I’ve only been running for about a year and a half now, but I’ve tried twice (unsuccessfully) to train for a marathon. I keep having a recurring hip injury.

    I read one of Jeff Galloway’s marathon training books last year but never actually tried the run/walk method until recently , I think because I felt like I had something to prove by running every step. Dumb, since what I proved is that I can’t make it past mile 16 without injuring myself. I’m still in recovery right now, but as soon as I’m cleared to run distance again, I’m going to try Jeff’s run/walk plan. Lord willing, I will run a marathon in 2011 (maybe Portland?)

    One thing Jeff said in his book that has stuck with me ever since is that beginning runners need time to “fall in love” with the run. I was so moved by that sentiment. In running, like in love, I have nothing to prove. I just want to still be running (and loving it) 20 years from now.

    Thanks for the inspiration!!! Really great post :)
    Ally´s last blog post ..Ah- Austin

  27. I really enjoy long-distance walking, but lately I’ve been seriously considering trying this whole running idea out. I guess one of my main concerns is how jarring it is to your entire body to run. Thank you for tips #1 & #2 – great place for me to start. Now that the weather in Phoenix is incredibly perfect, I guess there’s no better time to give running a try! Also, I never listen to music while walking – that’s my brainstorming time, plus I try to be extra-aware of cars, other walkers/runners, etc.
    marina´s last blog post ..From Zanzibar to Burundi

  28. I just like your suggestion of taking a couple of minutes walk before running. It will serve as a warm up exercise to your overall body. At least you will be comfortable in running once your body is set.
    Cole Stan´s last blog post ..Engraved Lucky Horseshoe Money Clip for Men

  29. Please DM me, would love to hang out for a meal or even just coffee, lots of awesome places near where I live.
    marina´s last blog post ..From Zanzibar to Burundi

  30. I’ve always been gifted with a–generally-speaking–decent body without having to work out. And then I hit mid-40s and metabolism left the building!! Your post actually makes sense to me but can it overcome my biggest problem?

    My brain!

    I think I torpedo myself before I ever begin because I…don’t…think…I…CAN!

    But, this I know…something HAS to give or I’ll find that 400 pounds you’ve avoided! ;)
    Robin ~ PENSIEVE´s last blog post ..The finding of Neverland

  31. I love this post. Thank you for sharing. I have lost toenails and have never even thought about a marathon. Love the new method. I will try it ASAP!
    christina parker brown´s last blog post ..Blessings in disguise

  32. Nice tips. My girlfriend has lead me to running. Never thought I would like. I am learning to use “Map My Run” and it is a great tool. I am averaging about 2 miles now and loving it. I am on the road quite a bit and can instantly plan a run no matter where I am before I go out.
    The best thing I’ve done yet was accept shoes from my girlfriend. Changed everything, stable platform was essential.
    You run six walk one is something I am struggling with and will now make that a part of my routine.
    Thanks for the TIPS! Very nice blog post!

  33. Really you have proven what you said in the heading of this post.

    Inf 5 minutes, I learned a lot about your running secret that you have experienced inf 25 years.

    Thanks for the great share.
    Mike Ramsey´s last blog post ..How To Get Rid Of Sweaty Palms

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