With the Boston Marathon getting so much press yesterday (more than recent years – in my opinion) at lot of people get hyped up and join the running bandwagon. To that I say AWESOME! I know I’ve said this before — if I can run, ANYONE can run. Ask my brothers. They will agree.
However, there are a few things that a new runner should know. I was so naive (shocking) and really had no idea what I was getting into when I first started running. Running and racing seems so simple right? You just tie up a pair of running shoes and hit the pavement. Well, kinda.
Here’s what I’ve learned…
1. It all starts with the shoes. You NEED to find shoes that match your foot. You shouldn’t buy shoes based on brand name, style, or color. Shoe purchase should be based on YOUR arch and pronation. I was running behind one woman at the Iron Girl 1/2 and her left foot turned in EVERY time she hit the ground with it. My ankle was sore just watching her run!
The wrong shoes can cause injury, knee pain, ankle pain, and foot pain. It is NOT worth running in bad shoes.
2. If you are serious about running and you want to increase your speed – buy a Garmin. I tried track my pace using iPhone and while it’s better than nothing, it’s not a Garmin. I have a Garmin 305 (I’m still working on a name – any suggestions?) and it has DEFINITELY made me a better runner. I have finally figured out what a consistent 9:00 (or even lower) pace feels like and it’s all because of my Garmin.
3. If you are planning on running more than 7-8 miles – buy a sports belt. I know, I’m pimping out the running gear, but it’s only because I COULDN’T run with out it. I have an iFitness belt and it’s awesome. I can store so much crap in it, along with my ID and my credit card. Just in case.
4. Figuring out fueling/hydration SUCKS. Running is not a pretty sport and when you start running you don’t really get breaks like you do in other sports. There’s now sitting on the bench, or playing offense/defense, or going up to bat. It’s just you. In the 7 races that I’ve run I can’t tell you that I fueled or hydrated perfectly. It all depends on what your body needs that day and even then it may not be enough.
5. Poop talk is common and somehow normal. - When you talk to other runners, there is a 85% chance that pooping or GI issues will be discussed. I feel REALLY lucky because running has not really impacted my stomach (now my bladder — that’s a different story), but be prepared to talk about it with perfect strangers, while you wait in line for a porta potty.
6. Avoid cotton and underwear – Because you sweat like a mother – wearing cotton t-shirts to run doesn’t fly. You make that mistake once and then you go shopping. I’ve found the most breathable stuff to run in is a mesh material (Nike Dry Fit is my preference). Also, if you wear tempo/running shorts underwear is NOT required. Don’t worry, there are built-in undies.
7. Build your miles SLOWLY. If you want to increase your distance – don’t add on miles too quickly. Find a training plan (Hal Hidegon has great plans for beginners) and stick with it. If you add on too quickly you risk the chance of injury and that’s NOT fun.
8. Distance first, then speed. Someone told me this when I first started running and I really didn’t believe them. I thought I was NEVER going to get faster. But, I am here to say they were TOTALLY RIGHT (thank you, to whoever that was). I started out race season running at an 11:15 pace. I PR’d in Sarasota with a 9:04 pace. Distance first – with hard work and consistent training/running speed follows.
9. STRETCH. I need to follow my advice on this, but stretching is NECESSARY. You don’t need to stretch BEFORE you run (I know, seems weird but it’s actually harder on your muscles – if you need to go through a stretching ritual just shake out your arms). Stretch AFTER you run and do it for more than 30 seconds. Buy a foam roller. Do some yoga. STRETCH. Your hip flexors, hamstrings, calves, and shins will thank you!
10. The running community is AWESOME. I was really shy and nervous about running and racing at first. I had no idea what I doing. I felt like an idiot. Then I realized – running is an individual sport. Unless you’re an elite (and chances are if you are reading this, you are not) the only person you are competing against IS YOU. Your goals. Your speed. Your definition of success. ANYONE WHO RUNS IS A RUNNER. And other runners? They are your biggest fan!
My “runner up” advice? HAVE FUN. Don’t over do it. Give yourself rest days. Read running blogs -they are amazing motivators! Don’t beat yourself up for a bad run — and my favorite (from Aron) — don’t judge a run on its first mile!
Questions on running? Ask! Either comment or email – I swear I don’t bite. Advice that I missed? Please share!