I claim to be a runner. I’ve run one full marathon, several half marathons and a few smaller distances sprinkled in there with plenty of non-race running days too. I’m not the fastest runner or an elite runner by any means but let’s talk about something I truly love and have yet to write a post on.
I decided I wanted to start running in the fall of 2007. I had a friend who wanted to train for the Race for the Cure 5k so I jumped on board. I set out to complete the couch to 5k program through Cool Running because let’s be real, I sucked as a runner. I grew up training at the gym 3-5 days a week since I was 16 years old and would do intervals on the treadmill for 6 miles. i.e. Walk 2 minutes, sprint 2 minutes for 6 miles. I literally felt like my lungs would explode if I ran longer than 3 minutes. So starting slow was a great ticket. And even running 5 minutes straight was super hard at first but I was determined to finish! I just remember pushing myself to not stop and no matter how slow each mile really was, I just wanted to keep trucking.
I ran my first 5k in October 2007 and I remember having a pretty terrible time. Something like 37 minutes or so because I started out at the start line (dumb!!) and burned up my energy way too fast but hey, I crossed the finish line. I ran another 5k the next month and didn’t do much better.
We moved to Louisville January 2008 and it’s the most friendly exercise city I’ve ever lived. We have the most beautiful parks and running routes so I kept up with running and a few times a week would go out to run 3 miles or so and got more comfortable with each run. I felt good breathing but I didn’t necessarily push my speed. That’s a post for another day on when I really started pushing, training and racing so stay tuned for that one!
Fast forward two years later to January 2010 and I signed up to run a full marathon. I am an overachiever type of person and knew that if I ran another race I wanted to go big. I trained to finish, not for time. I happily crossed that finish line (and lost 4 toenails in the process) and have run several half marathons since. Half marathons have kind of been my sweet spot so I haven’t yet conquered another full but hopefully one day again I will be out there for an awesome 26.2 race!
Thoughts for you that are wanting to begin running and how:
- Make a goal: I loved having that 5k in the distance. It kept me motivated to train.
- Start slow: Don’t be hard on yourself. Even if you run 30 seconds longer than your last run, count that has a huge accomplishment! You will be running with ease before you know it.
- Enjoy it: Run because you love it. Not because you think it’s the cool thing to do or just to lose weight. You will burn out or resent it if you don’t. Run because of your sheer love for the pavement.
- Fuel properly: Make sure you stay hydrated with water before your run and hydrate and eat those lost calories afterwards. Your body is working hard!
- Rest: Make sure you recover from each run smartly. Don’t overexert yourself with trying to run every single day. I shoot for no more than 3 days a week of running, I stay injury free and I don’t feel burnt out!
- Train with a friend: Coerce a friend to train with you, whether they are a seasoned runner or just starting out. It makes the minutes go by so much faster and it can be a sweet time of cultivating a friendship.
- Be safe!!: I can’t stress this enough. Run with a friend if you like to run at night and wear reflective clothing , wear only one ear bud at a time so you can hear your surroundings, don’t publicly proclaim when you are going on a run !EVER!, and get a Road ID to wear around your wrist (which is something on my to do list!) or run with your Driver’s License.
- Wear good shoes: Take your time shopping for shoes. Go to a local running store and see if they can properly fit you with the right shoe. Don’t wear a brand new pair the day of a race without having broken them in with at least a couple of runs first. I have worn Vibram’s Five Finger shoes for the past 3 years and haven’t looked back. (A post will be coming on barefoot running and why I love it, eventually) Find what works for you!
That’s about all I’ve got folks. What is your best beginner runner’s advice? Or any beginner runner’s out there who have questions floating about?