Friday, March 1, 2013

5 Tips for Beginning Runners

I had no idea what I was getting myself into when I started running.  I was 14 and decided at the last minute to go out for the cross-country team.  {Who knew it would be such a life-altering decision because before that I hated to run}.  The farthest consecutive run I had before the first practice was 1.5 miles and that first practice I ran 4.5 miles!  I'm stubborn and was determined to finish and fortunately I was young and didn't ever end up seriously injured.  Running seems to be getting more and more popular and maybe you want to get in on the fun and run a 5k or maybe you want to work your way up to longer distances like a 10k or a 1/2 marathon or even a full marathon, but starting is intimidating.  I was too young and stupid to be intimidated by starting when I did, but now I love to run and want others to run too so here's my top 5 tips for beginning runners.

1)  START SLOW!  Running is hard and if you don't ease into it, it can lead to injuries or mental burn-out as quick as you started.  You might feel like this when you start, but DON'T QUIT and I promise if you stick with it you will be able to run farther and easier.
A hard lesson that I've had to learn after starting to run again after pregnancy is that it is ok to walk.  You can go farther and it's easier on your body.  I'd recommend the C25K plan or Another Mother Runner's 5K: Finish It plan for those of you just starting out.

2) MAKE A GOAL!  In my experience, it is so much easier to run if I have a reason to run.  My favorite motivation is signing up for a race to get me through those inevitable not-so-fun runs since I know I've paid for it.  Other motivations could be treating yourself to new running gear or a massage after you finish a predetermined number of miles or runs.

3) GET GOOD QUALITY RUNNING SHOES!  Yes, they are expensive, but yes they are necessary.  The wrong shoes can lead to injury...Wal-mart does not carry running shoes no matter what the sign above them says.  Go to a running store or at least a sporting goods store.  Be prepared to spend some money, but unless you are excessively hard on shoes or running a lot of miles, they will last you awhile.  Most shoes last 300-500 miles.  Find shoes that are comfortable for your feet.  Fit is the most important thing.  You might not be able to wear the same shoes as your friend, sister, co-worker etc. and if they aren't comfortable, don't buy them.  Walk or even run in them around the store.  Some stores will allow you to run on the sidewalk in front.  And make sure you know the return/exchange policy in case they still don't work out for you.

4)  DON'T COMPARE YOURSELF TO ANYONE ELSE!  The great thing about running is that it is individual.  You can have your own victories even if you never win a race.  It is super easy to fall into the trap of looking at the miles or the pace someone else runs (especially if you read blogs!) and start being hard on yourself.  Run what you can at the pace you can and enjoy it.  The other thing I have to work on is not comparing myself to my former high school/college running me.  I am not at the same point anymore and it's ok, but the joy of running gets sucked out if we are always looking at someone else or previous achievements as the standard.
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5)  YOUR BODY NEEDS REST DAYS!  Your body needs rest and you will get stronger and faster if you incorporate rest days into your training schedule.  No rest often = injury.  You'll need to learn to listen to your body--there is a different between aches and soreness and pain.  Run through soreness.  Don't run through pain because that will usually end up in not being able to run at all.  A week of rest is better than 6 months of no running.  {Can you tell that I'm dealing with recovering from injuries right now?}

What's your #1 tip for new runners or runners starting up again?

3 comments:

  1. That some e card makes me laugh every time I see it. Great insights :)

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  2. All good tips! Good shoes and rest days are SO important!

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  3. These are GREAT tips! I think sometimes people get a little wrapped up and try to do too much all at once. I personally started with the 5k and worked my way up in distances.

    Well worth the wait!

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