It’s sometimes pretty crazy to think that I am a runner. Coming from the girl who dreaded running at basketball practices… it’s weird. But it’s also funny how things shape out. I have certainly learned a lot over my year and a half of running, training and racing. I’ve had some ups and downs and other stresses but at the end of the day: I really do love to run. Sometimes I love to sprint, run 5 miles or run 15 miles but I love the freeing feeling of just going out and running.
I’m certainly not a running expert but I have learned a lot since lacing up my shoes for the first time.
1. Take the first step.
This may seem kinda obvious but it’s true and it’s often the hardest thing to do. Just take that first step out the door. Just do it.
2. Build your distance and mileage gradually.
When I started running, I first ran for as long as I could without stopping (which was about 18 minutes). Once I got comfortable with that distance and time for a few weeks, I added a few more blocks and minutes onto the run. I kept doing that and eventually signed up for my first 10K race. Once I had that goal/distance in sight, I built up my kilometers/miles accordingly. How? Well I am definitely not a running coach but I legit just Googled “10K training plan”. There are thousands of resources out there and so I read through a few plans and used them as a guide/template in creating my own plan. I did the same thing when training for my first half-marathon. Thankfully I have an awesome coach and friend mentoring me for my upcoming marathon. I really like 3x per week running plans (as evident from my marathon training plan): one day for speed work, one day for a shorter run and one day for a longer run.
When I find something I love to do (or eat), I have a tendency to over-do it. So in training for my first half marathon, ALL I REALLY DID WAS RUN. Bad move. I definitely over-trained by running far too often for me and my body (ahem, knee injury). Some people can run 5-7 days a week but that clearly didn’t (and doesn’t) work for me. I know I am best when I run 3 times and focus on strength training as well as other cross-training activities – like swimming, spinning and yoga. Check out this post for more about cross-training for running.
4. Rest and recover.
Rest and recovery is a part of any running or training plan – something I have come to learn. When we exercise we breakdown tiny little muscle fibres so we need to give them ample amount of time to recover. Stretch, foam roll, take epsom salt baths – whatever it is for you! Stretching is super important and I don’t do it enough – like doing this everyday yoga series. Cooling down on the stationary bike and icing my knees are things I do after every run. Listen to your body. If it says it is tired, allow it to rest.
5. Recognize the extra stress running puts on your body.
Running (and any other high intensity exercise) puts a lot of stress on our bodies – called oxidative stress. This results in inflammation, hormonal changes and other stuff. My stresses via running are displayed by an annoying knee injury, skin breakouts and sugar cravings. There are many things we can do to combat this stress (hello, antioxidants and tumeric shots!) but running (especially long distances) isn’t a walk in the park – I have learned this the hard way. As humans, our bodies are not meant to run but we do it anyways because it’s fun and enjoyable (or we are crazy) but it is also our job to be smart about it – as best as we can.
Of possible interest: Is Running as Healthy as We Want it to be?
6. Fuel with food.
Something I have also learned the hard way. Oh I’m running, so I need to like eat more? Really? YES. Make sure you are fueling your body correctly for your training! Just like with rest and cross-training, we need to help our bodies rebuild and function properly by putting it in a positive energy balance (unless you are running as part of a weight loss program but I am not discussing that right now). Ensure you are eating enough for your training: protein, carbs, fat, vitamins, minerals (including electrolytes) and water.
Check out these posts for more info:
7. Buy and wear good shoes/gear.
You certainly don’t need the fanciest stuff or coolest gadgets but you don’t want to hurt your feet by wearing your six year old tattered sneakers. You also don’t want to freeze your butt off in November if you aren’t wearing a solid running jacket. And it doesn’t hurt to feel and look good in awesome gear.
Check out this post on my running gear.
8. Focus on yourself.
Someone will always be faster. Someone will always run farther. Focus on your runs. Your distance. Your time. That doesn’t mean you can’t look to others for motivation but what matters is how you do. And saying that: don’t stress about your time or if you need to “miss” or “skip” a run – it’s okay. This is something I am always working on but remember: consistency, not perfection.
9. It’s a roller-coaster of a relationship.
You’re gonna love it sometimes and hate it other times. It’s not always PRs and awesome races. Keep things in perspective and refer to tip #8.
10. “Run often, run long. But never outrun your joy of running.” – Julie Isphording
Running is and should be fun. No, not all the time (see tip #9) but if more times than not you are dreading lacing up your shoes and going out the door, well then it is time to re-assess.
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