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Work Hard, Run Hard: 8 Tips to Find Your Running Groove

“The best runner leaves no tracks.” ~Tao Te Ching

Tammy Runs in Little Shasta Summer of 09

I don’t think we can find work we love, connect with community, or have fun if our health is in shambles. Living a simpler life has given me the opportunity and time to focus on improving my physical health. We only get one body and one mind. Taking care of both are key ingredients to health and happiness.

Are you looking for inspiration to get your move on? Then this article is for you. I hope the tips below will inspire you to lace up your shoes and go for a run.

1. Start slow.

So many of us rush everywhere. I keep wondering what the big hurry is. Going slow isn’t a bad thing. Especially if you are new to running. If you want to get up off the couch and go for a run, don’t do a 10 mile loop you’re first time out. Start with a half mile or mile and slowly increase your mileage over time.

For instance, I’ve been running for the last few years and just started running consistently again. But I’m not going fast. I’m taking my time, building up my mileage slowly, and listening to my body.

2. Incorporate yoga into your routine.

Setting aside 10 minutes, before and after your run, to practice yoga will loosen up your muscles and help you warm up (along with cooling down).

Long time readers know that I’m a huge fan of yoga. By incorporating yoga into a daily routine you’ll feel 20 times better. And you don’t have to practice yoga for hours everyday to get feel better, stronger, and less stressed.

3. Set a few goals.

Setting a goal is helpful, but don’t let that goal consume you. For example, you might want to run a marathon in 4 hours. It’s okay if you don’t meet that time. Something to strive for while training is a good thing, but it’s not the end of the world if you don’t meet a specific goal. At least, you aren’t sitting in front of the TV or surfing the internet.

4. Be present.

Running with music isn’t a bad thing. However, it’s worth leaving your iPod at home once in a while. See how you feel on you’re runs without music or podcasts.

I used to consistently plug into my iPod and run through the park. But ever since we moved to Portland I’ve been walking (and now running) without any music. I feel more in tune with my body, pay attention to my running form, and actually notice the birds chirping.

5. What about shoes?

A few months ago I purchased a pair of Vibram Fivefingers and I absolutely love them. I resisted buying these weird looking shoes for a long time because they are expensive and trendy. But after trying on over 5 pairs of running shoes and not finding anything that fit my feet, Logan suggested the Vibram’s. I absolutely love them. (And they only cost me $11.00 thanks to REI coupons and rebates).

I haven’t started running in my Vibram’s yet, but I’ve been biking, walking, and puttering around in the house with them. I don’t think shoes are bad. But now that I’m walking around in my Vibram’s I’ve been much more aware of my posture, balance, and where my feet land on the concrete. In essence, I feel more connected to my surroundings.

I highly recommend looking into Vibram’s. Remember to slowly incorporate these shoes into your routine. Leo, from Zen Habits, pointed out:

“When you first start running barefoot, your feet will be weak, so take it very slowly at first. It takes weeks and months to build up the strength necessary for faster or longer running, but after awhile, your feet get stronger than ever before. There are numerous studies still being done on this, so don’t draw any long-term conclusions yet. My thinking is to give it a try, and see how it works.”

I agree! Give it a try and see how you feel.

6. Wear simple clothes.

Running doesn’t require expensive clothes or fancy gear. Run in clothing that you’re comfortable in. More than likely you have what you need in your closet.

7. Listen to your body.

In December 2008, I ran my first marathon and it was an incredible experience. However, since I was a rookie runner my post-marathon experience was rough. I ended up hurting myself and for the last year I’ve struggled with a variety of injuries.

Pay attention to your aches and pains. If you don’t take it slow and listen to your body, you’ll end up on the side lines. And that isn’t fun.

8. You were born to run.

“Children run before they can walk.” ~Tarahumara saying

I recently finished an amazing book called Born to Run. The book explored the life and running habits of the Tarahumara Indians of Mexico’s Copper Canyon; some of the best distance runners in the world.

After reading McDougall’s story I realized we really are born to run. Think back to when you were 5 years old and running and jumping all over the playground. What happened to that little kid? When did so many adults forget the joy of running? Running doesn’t have to hurt. It’s a beautiful art and a wonderful way to balance your physical and emotional health.

Lace up your shoes. Head out the door and start running.


With the change in season, running is an activity many people are writing about. Be sure to read these remarkable articles and books:

  • Born to Run – an amazing, inspiring and beautiful story about the Tarahumara Indians of Mexico’s Copper Canyons. Topics covered include health, science, the shoe industry, and more. Read this book.


Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Mohamed Shedou June 4, 2010, 8:54 am

    I’ve been struggling with running and exercise for a long time too! I think we just need to find ways to make it enjoyable, otherwise we have no chance of making it into a consistent habit. For me, I recently found that speed walking worked much better than trying to force myself to run, it’s easier and enjoyable. I talked about the experince here http://egyptianmind.com/2010/05/we-should-but-we-dont-like-to/ (excuse the link, i just thought it was relevant!).

    • Tammy June 5, 2010, 8:04 am

      @Mohamed – Thanks for the comment and link. I’ll check out the article. 🙂 I think it’s awesome you’re speed walking. And it sounds like you enjoy the activity, which is even better.

  • Sue June 4, 2010, 10:04 am

    I’m a long-time walker and yoga fan. I’ve tried everything (including a gym membership) and finally settled on doing things I love. Sometimes I throw in a little Pilates and/or light weights, but mostly do the yoga and walk or hike. Yoga has changed my life. Highly recommended. There are different disciplines and teachers so take a few classes until you find a teacher with a style that you enjoy. Self-acceptance is one of the great things that comes from a yoga practice (as well as toned muscles, a relaxed attitude, and the ability to be present). OM!

    • Tammy June 5, 2010, 8:02 am

      @Sue – I totally agree. I know some folks don’t like running and that is perfectly okay. The whole idea is to get active and do activities you love. 🙂

      Thanks for reading and leaving a comment. 🙂

  • StaceyLynn June 4, 2010, 1:21 pm

    Fantastic article.
    Yoga is what makes running possible for me. My middle aged joints would seize up if I didn’t do yoga to keep them loose and limber. I also am in love with my VFFs. I have KSOs for running and Classics for everyday, everywhere.

    • Tammy June 5, 2010, 8:00 am

      @StaceyLynn – Ohhh yoga is the best. I’ve been thinking of joining a yoga studio again; just so I have yoga buddies to hold me accountable. I practice about 3 times a week. But I really miss going to a studio. 🙂 Have fun running.

      Ohhh and how do you like the classics?

  • Nina June 4, 2010, 2:36 pm

    Absolutely agree, Tammy! I ran in my Vibrams at the last race I was in and everyone was wondering how can I run in those? A great opportunity to shed some light on barefoot running. Born to Run changed my view on running and for the better. It is great to see so many people talking about it now.
    Rock on and keep on doing what you’re doing!

    • Tammy June 5, 2010, 7:57 am

      Thank you Nina. 🙂

  • Daisy June 4, 2010, 4:58 pm

    Very timely post for me! After a rather long stint as a workaholic my body finally told me in no uncertain terms that I needed to treat it better. So I am pulling out of the rat race and looking to gradually build up an exercise routine, better eating and sleeping habits, etc. (Interesting that I asked my family to downsize from a big suburban house to a nice 2-bed condo with a fantastic walkscore just over a year before I had my little breakdown….I think I was prescient then but not quite ready to admit the full extent to which things had got out of control.)

    • Tammy June 5, 2010, 7:50 am

      @Daisy – WOW! Thanks for sharing your story. I’m happy to hear you’re going to escape the rat race. In our hurried world it’s so easy to forget to take care of our physical and emotional health. It sounds like you are on a good path. I wish you the best. 🙂

  • Katie June 4, 2010, 5:28 pm

    Great article Tammy. I love running, but have to admit this whole barefoot running phenomenon is sort of oddly intriguing and yet I can’t imagine really doing it. I’m one step closer because of your post, but not quite there yet. The one thing your blog consistently gives me is newness. That’s rare. I also needed that little kick in the butt when it comes to exercising. Tomorrow I run — shoes on.

    • Tammy June 5, 2010, 7:53 am

      Thank you Katie! You are so awesome.

      I haven’t started running barefoot yet; I’m easing into my VFF’s. But after reading Born to Run, I refuse to buy new running shoes. Have fun running! And let me know how it goes. Sending hugs your way.

  • Claire - Gratitude Connection June 4, 2010, 9:06 pm

    I’m inspired to pull my running shoes back on, and head outside for a jog (maybe a fast walk). Thanks!

    • Tammy June 5, 2010, 7:41 am

      @Claire – Yay! I’m glad you’re going to start running / walking this week. 🙂 And thank you for reading.

  • Mark Owen-Ward June 4, 2010, 11:44 pm

    Hi tammy – really loved this article. combining running and yoga minds was a great creative link and I’m looking forward to putting that into action. I remember the chat about VFFs in the bootcamp and considering whether colour or black is best – whatever colour, they need to be washed frequently! I’m really interested in you using them for cycling. I know you use a l surly long haul trucker, is this normal flat pedals? And how long do the vibrams stay comfortable for you? I ask only because I made a mistake with my bike purchase – last summer I cycled almost daily for 20 miles on a $100 hack bike. I saved up and bought a road bike (bianchi with cleat pedals) but just find I hate using it so it just sits there – I know that’s insane so I’m going to change it. Is the surly good? I’ve heard mixed reviews and now I’m torn between a tourer like the surly of a single speed bike. This is an important purchase for me as I want to go car-lite (separated from my kids and being a personal trainer prevents car free at this point) but I love the idea of being able to cycle to a client with med balls and kettle bells. Is the surly up to this do you think and with vibrams? Sorry this question’s a bit off beat from your (wonderful) post, but resources to answer questions like this are few and far between! Cheers, Mark

    • Tammy June 5, 2010, 7:46 am

      Hey Mark – Thanks for leaving such a thoughtful comment. I’ll try and answer your questions. The VFFs have been fantastic. I’m slowly integrating them into my walking, biking, running routine. I have MKS Lamda pedals; they are great pedals for any type of shoe. I’m not a fan of clipless pedals.

      I highly recommend the Surly Long Haul Trucker. The bike goes fast and it’s great for hauling groceries, work stuff, etc. The price point is reasonable considering the high quality of the bike. 🙂 I’m sure Logan will be chiming in with a comment too.

      • Mark O-W June 8, 2010, 5:48 am

        Excited now – have ordered my Surly LHT in black (in won out in the end against the cross-check) with your recommended pedals, a brooks b17 saddle and some ortlieb (waterproof) bags. I will never drive to the food store again! thx again for all the help. cycling with VFFs here I come! mark

    • Logan June 5, 2010, 8:24 am

      Hi Mark,

      Tammy asked me to follow-up here regarding bike recommendations. 🙂 Generally, we subscribe to the philosophy offered by Rivendell Bicycle Works in Walnut Creek, CA which basically states that comfort and quality should be paramount to choosing a bike. The steel frame, wide tires, upright handlebars, and platform pedals have been really great for us (http://tammystrobel.com/2010/06/02/why-we-ride/).

      I’m not sure what it was that you hated about the Bianchi road bike but it sounds like it may have been a comfort issue. Many road bikes are set up to sacrifice comfort for racing speed and light-weight. From your history and needs listed above I think models like the Surly Cross-check or a SOMA double-cross may be the style of bike you are looking for. These bikes have an adaptable frame geometry so you can set it up like a commuting bike, a touring bike, a road bike, an off-road mountain bike, or even a single speed bike. This way you can try the single-speed set up and if that doesn’t suit you, can change to a commuting/touring set-up. 🙂 If you have questions on the differences between the Surly LHT and the CC there is a great google group resource (http://groups.google.com/group/surlylht?hl=en). Cheers and good luck. 🙂

      • Mark Owen-Ward June 6, 2010, 1:01 am

        thanks logan and tammy for the bike advice – this is great and I’m going to look into the Surlys – you can only get them as frames to the UK but it will be fun to build one! thanks for the google group reference too! I’m hoping to come to the USA for a month in September so might see if I can visit the surly folk during the trip. thx again, mark

  • Chris - ZTF June 5, 2010, 12:09 pm

    This is such a great post and highlights all the areas that are important when starting to run. I used to run often 2-3 times a week for about 20-40 minutes each time and I loved it, nothing better than a good playlist flowing along with some good weather.

    Recently though I have been spending too much time in the gym and not enough outdoors, This post has inspired me to get my “running” act together and start hitting the road again. Going to make a playlist now and warm up the Nike Free’s for tomorrow’s run! Also the link and recommendation for some minimalist yoga before a run is a great idea – 10 mins before and after as a warmup and cool down would be ideal.

  • Sarah June 7, 2010, 1:17 pm

    Found your post through Leo, from ZenHabits, and loved it as I’m trying to get back into a running rhythm. Which Virbrams do you have, the KSOs? And where are these coupons and rebates you speak of?!

    Thanks, and will enjoy following!

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