I was always pretty athletic, but never liked running distances. I dreaded the mile in gym class- those four laps around the track was boring to me. I would much rather have been on the softball field sprinting 60ft from base to base. When our coach made us run, I couldn’t wait for it to be over. Now, flash forward, years out of high school and away from the competitive softball lifestyle, running distances is my therapy and the dreaded “mile” is no longer a daunting task. People start running for a variety of reasons. For me, I wanted to stay in shape and be able to physically hunt harder. My husband would be out on our hunting land climbing the mountain with ease, and I would always be playing catch up. I wanted to change that. As my running schedule increased, I found it was making my hunting better as well.
I expected to gain physically, but never realized that there would be a mental impact as well. With training for a marathon, I have been conditioned to deal with really uncomfortable situations for extended periods of time. Believe it or not, I actually learned to welcome the struggle. I feel less stressed and have a better attitude, and my overall outlook has improved. These benefits translate directly into hunting. Hunting is hard. It requires patience and persistence, as well as the physical demands. Running has made me a better hunter, both physically and mentally.
Want to start running? Before you start hitting the pavement, do yourself a favor: Do your research for a proper pair of running shoes, or visit a local store to find a pair that are suited for your foot type. I cannot stress the proper running shoe enough. Every time your foot hits the ground, the impact is three to five times your bodyweight (think about that for a second). Running shoes are designed to absorb that impact and prevent injury.
Running takes planning. You need days, times and routes planned in order to be successful. Write them down, and stick to the schedule. Lay your gear out before hand, clothes and gadgets. That way it’s easy for you to throw them on and get that run in. If you run with music or a watch, make sure they are charged and ready to go. There is nothing worse than having them die mid run- trust me!
After your run reward yourself with some water, fruit or even go shoot your bow. Your heart rate will be increased and there is nothing more rewarding then sticking the arrow in the center after a run!
If you decide to start running, don’t start off too quickly. Many can get discouraged if they start off too fast at a pace or distance they are not conditioned for. It will leave you miserable and prone to an injury.
Planning - Training
If you are a beginner, start with three days a week, with rest days in between. An athletic person could start with running three or four miles or 30 min three days a week. If you are just starting out, start with a 30 minute run/walk routine, otherwise known as a 2:1 ratio. Run for the amount of time you can, comfortably, then walk half of that duration, then start the routine again. Repeat this process until you hit 30 mins. The majority of your runs should be at a comfortable pace, meaning you should be able to carry on a conversation and speak in complete sentences without gasping for air. It can take time to achieve this, but building an efficient style, building muscle, breathing technic, are all helping your overall fitness. Running helps build capillaries (blood vessels) which provide more oxygen to your muscles for increased energy. Runners in general have a lower blood pressure and stress levels. Just remember to build up slowly and not to rush.
Planning - Frequency
After you can run comfortably for 30 minutes three times a week, you can begin to increase your pace for one run. It’s recommended that you run consistently for three weeks before you add time or miles. Once you establish a good base, you can add miles by an amount of 10% of your total weekly miles. So as an example if you are running nine miles a week for three weeks, the 4th week do two 3 miles and one 4 mile run, bringing your weekly total to 10. You could also add a fourth day and do a quick mile. As you run more you will find adding mileage isn’t so daunting. But always remember to listen to your body and progress accordingly. Over time you will find your niche, whether it’s a 5k, or attempting a half marathon or full marathon. The training involved in a marathon puts me in great hunting shape for the fall. The demand is high, but worth every second. Here is a general idea of how many miles per week you should run to finish a race at your desired distance:
5k: 20-25 miles per week 10k: 25-30 miles per week Half Marathon: 30-40 miles per week Marathon: 30-50 miles per week
No matter what level or direction you want to take with running, I promise regular running will change you. No more gasping for air climbing up the mountain to your tree stand. The hike from the truck to the decoy spread in a cornfield, luging those decoy bags (as many as you can hold, because the less trips the better, right?) will be done with ease now. You will feel better, have more confidence in yourself, gain patience, and physically and mentally it will help make you a more successful hunter.