Well, everybody…it’s Shark Week. And while we probably could have let it come and go without recognizing the wildly popular event (we are a running blog, after all), we figured it’d be more fun to take a day to look at all the shark-related information and entertainment swirling around out there and point out some ways that — as runners — we could all stand to be a little shark-like in our training.
Here are four ways runners can think like a shark.
1. Keep moving. You may have heard that sharks can’t stop moving, requiring constant motion to get water through their gills to keep them alive. That’s not entirely true, as there are a number of sharks who barely move at all. None-the-less, there are some species of shark that pretty much have to move all the time. We could stand to be more like that. Running is obviously a big part of our fitness routine, but what about the little opportunities through the day to take more steps and be more active? We’re talking about things like taking the stairs instead of the elevator, moving around the living room instead of passively watching television, and parking farther away from your destination to squeeze in some extra steps. Don’t just sit there — keep moving! Here’s a nice post from Suite101 that can help you take more steps every day.
2. Make things happen. A baby shark doesn’t just sit around waiting for someone to come along and let it out of it’s little shark egg. In some cases, these things will actually figure out that it’s time to start making life happen and bust themselves out with no help from either parent (who are occasionally willing to eat the little guy given the opportunity). A successful runner is the same way. You can’t just wait around for a perfect opportunity for a run…chances are it may never come. We’re all busy and need to make time to get out there and do our workouts throughout the week. Check out our “Time Slots” series for straightforward advice on successfully carving out time to run at various points throughout the day and week.
3. Be flexible. Sharks don’t have bones. The stuff that looks like bones is actually cartilage, which makes them flexible and able to maneuver around in tight circles (watch out for that!). Just like a shark’s flexibility helps make it perform best as a shark, your flexibility is going to help you perform better as a runner. You probably don’t need to swing your head around and bite anyone on a moment’s notice, but flexible muscles are stronger, recover faster, and are more resistant to injury. Even though conventional wisdom has for a long time been that it is important to stretch out before a workout, it’s actually just as critical to stretch afterwards — maybe even more so. Check out our post “Three reasons to stretch after your next workout” for more insight.
4. Find your theme song. Da-dum. You know what that means. The iconic theme from Jaws is enough to make the bravest swimmer a little uneasy, delivering more of a reaction in two quick notes than some films can pull off with a two-hour script. Da-dum. That’s pretty intense. Well obviously sharks didn’t pick their own theme song and probably wouldn’t care one way or the other if they heard it, but that doesn’t mean we can’t learn from the idea. If Spielberg managed to train an entire generation to swim for shore when they hear such a simple tune, imagine how you could condition yourself to respond to music during your training. Choose a warmup song and play it every time you get your workout started. Over time, it’ll become your body’s trigger to get down to business. Spend a few dollars on yourself and see if you can’t find your new running theme.