My Thoughts on Being a New Runner

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!

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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.

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Sportin' my belt

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.

Still gross, but growing on me

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.

To wear or not wear underwear -- that is the question...

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!

Comments

  1. Lisa says

    Last year I ran a 10K wearing cotton like capri pants. WTH was I thinking is all I can say?!! So, Yes Yes Yes to #6, good lord did I regret that decision by the first half mile mark, especially when the humidity kicked in, ugh!!! I seriously still have nightmares over that run overall, lol.

    • Michelle says

      What WERE you thinking? Ha ha ha. I’m sure they looked cute — but did NOT feel cute. Sorry you had to learn the hard way!

  2. Nanette says

    I think you must have been reading my mind with this post! I started running yesterday and although I did intervals of 60 secs running and 90 seconds walking for 20 minutes, so many of the things you pointed out are so true! My iPhone was a pain in the you know where when it came to tracking what I was doing, the cotton tshirt was drenched after a few minutes and well today my whole body is sore! Thank God that the plan I’m following calls for a recovery day today cause I really don’t think I could make it today for even 10 minutes! Thank you for the advice and thank you more for this blog because it has definately given me the motivation I needed!

    • Michelle says

      Congrats on starting to run!!! I love hearing about new runners :) You will probably be sore for a while after you go, but if stick with it I promise it starts to hurt less! Just remember to stretch – and icing helps too. If you have any other questions – please let me know!

  3. Jena says

    Great post! I would agree with all of your points & I partially agree w/ you on the Garmin one.. While I agree that Garmin has helped me tremendously, I wouldn’t say that you aren’t a serious runner if you don’t have a Garmin. I do know someone who is training for a marathon and she does not run w/ a Garmin. It is a very good tool, but not everyone can throw down that kind of money on a watch :-)

    I also have a foam roller but I feel like such an idiot on it that I don’t use it as often as I should. :-(
    Jena recently posted..Did you know-Uphill battle

    • Michelle says

      Very true about the Garmin. I ran my first 2 halfs without it and increased my time dramatically! You definitely do not need it.

      Foam rolling is the most ridiculous thing ever, right? I’ve thought about buying the stick (but then it brings up all of those double entendres – hee), do you know anyone who has it? I am a sucker for running gear.

  4. says

    Great advice! My wife and I started to look into running last year, did it for a couple of weeks but then made excuses and stopped. We bought shoes from the local running specialty store. What a huge difference they made! The one problem I have though, is that I have to constantly stretch my left foot because I get an ache in my heel in the morning (most likely plantar fasciitis). I had inserts put in my shoes to help to give a better arch, but I still get an ache now and then.

    I am hoping we can start the couch to 5K next week. :-)

    • Michelle says

      Did you go to Track Shack for shoes? Or Fleet Feet? Paula and I have been talking about going to Fleet Feet to have our gait analyzed. If the ache gets really bad you might want to check out going to a podiatrist too (my brother’s fiance is one – I can ask for a recommendation if you’d like!).

      Yay for starting the couch to 5K! It’s a great program I know MANY people who have graduated (and gone on to run even longer distances!). Can’t wait to read about your progress!

      • says

        We went to Tri & Run. Our doctor referred us to them last year. I’ve heard of Track Shack from a friend but not Fleet Feet. I’ll have to look them up. I’ve seen Dr. Laliberte before for a small ingrown toe nail procedure. He was pretty good. If you can ask her opinion on him, that would be great. Thanks! :-)

        Thanks! I am really hoping we can do it because I would really like to do the Disney Half in January one year.

  5. Jenny @ Fitness Health and Food says

    What a great post! So fun to read as I’m newly back into the running game (after a lonnnng cold Chicago winter). I love the to wear underwear or not to wear underwear point. It did feel weird not wearing it at first but I definitely go without now. ohh wait TMI?? hehe :)

    Thanks for sharing!

    • Michelle says

      There’s such a thing as TMI when it comes to running?? Ha ha. I really just realized you weren’t supposed to wear underwear with those shorts. I kept wondering why they were riding up all funny. Duh, Michelle!

      Can’t wait to hear about your upcoming races!! Hearing about them makes me a little sad I have nothing coming up here.

  6. d.a.r. says

    This is an awesome post!! I always tell girl friends who are starting to run to celebrate the small victories! Celebrate that first full mile, that first 5K, the first whatever…enjoy it :)

    And uh…who wears undies while working out? Yuck! :)
    d.a.r. recently posted..Running Buddy &amp Bike Lessons

    • Michelle says

      Yes, me too – but Paula did not have ANY problems discussing it. Ha ha. When I joined my pace group one of the first things the other girl and I talked about was poop and GI issues. It’s so funny what DOESN’T phase a runner!

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