When I started running, I had no idea what I was doing. I would get to the gym an hour before they closed, jump on the treadmill or opt for the occasional outside adventure, and just kept showing up day after day hoping I would get better at running.
I didn’t know anything about proper footwear, the difference wearing actual athletic apparel could make (hello t-shirt life), or how to train to become a stronger and more efficient runner. I just went with what I had and hoped for the best. That was okay, but looking back I’m sharing a few things that would have helped me as a new runner and I hope will help some of you that are new to the sport!
5 things I wish I had known when I started running…This list could easily be 100 things but these are just the ones that made the most difference to my running journey.
1. Invest in running shoes and comfortable running clothes.
I had no idea there were stores that would evaluate your run and fit you for the best shoe for your foot and body mechanics. What?! Mind blown. Do it. Worth every penny and fixed all my struggles with unnecessary shin pain. I would also run in t-shirts at first. I wasn’t on the up and up on athletic apparel. I did buy into the “leggings are pants” trend though, so, we’re good. There is nothing wrong with running in a t-shirt but once you have run in a sleeveless high-performance tank, it’s impossible to go back. I ran faster once I got rid of the sleeves and wore material that didn’t feel like I was hugging a wet blanket mid-run. Eww. If you are one of those rare people who run in the middle of the summer heat and doesn’t sweat and looks like a glowing magazine ad, you keep wearing your t-shirt. I’m jealous. You will find out pretty quick what material/cut/length works best for you and when you find it, buy all of it. You don’t want to waste time worrying about what you’re wearing during a training run and definitely not on race day. Been there. Done that. Wrote about it.
2. You might not be a natural, and that’s okay.
I couldn’t run a mile without stopping when I started my running journey. I meet people all the time that started running in their 20’s/30’s and just pulled a Forrest Gump. They just started running one day and are hitting paces I still haven’t seen on my watch. Okay, unicorn person. Can I come run with you? Teach me your ways. But, seriously. Your running journey will be COMPLETELY different from everyone else you know, but eventually, you will figure out what works best for you. It will take some time, and once you start working on distance/pace/form etc. you will find yourself wondering what other tweaks you can make!
3. You have to keep pushing yourself.
For the longest time, I only ran a 5 mph pace because I had to start at that pace to build up to running a full mile without flying off the treadmill. It never even occurred to me that I could try to run faster (facepalm) until I was able to run 3 miles. I think in my mind I just knew that was the comfortable pace that I could consistently show up and run, so when I started playing with increases in speed it was a whole new world. I only recently started hill repeats and if you’re really looking for a challenge to truly push yourself, throw some of those into your training. Then order a pizza. Extra cheese. You’ll need it. I fought the hill and the hill won. But, I’ll keep doing them because I know they will make me a better runner. I hope, anyway!
4. Sign up for a race. You’ll thank me later.
Just click register. It may sound like the scariest thing ever, but it will be so much fun! Run alone. Run with friends. Run with friends cheering you on. Run with your dog. Whatever works for you, just get out there and put all that hard work to use. I also find it’s a lot easier to push myself when I have a race on the calendar because I know I have to put in the training beforehand, otherwise I tend to get a little lax on the running schedule and effort. I waited years to sign up for a race. Now, my calendar is mostly scheduled around what race is coming up and how can I squeeze my weekly training in around my life.
5. Nutrition really does matter. Shocker, I know.
Apparently, a younger version of myself could sustain running a few days a week on a diet primarily consisting of ice cream. Sadly, that doesn’t seem to be the case anymore. Shucks. Honestly, I feel so much better if I’m eating healthier. A few days of queso, wine, and 3 pints of ice cream and there’s a little less pep in my step. I heard a statistic a while back that was highlighting the percentage of people who work out for the sole reason of being able to eat whatever they want. I don’t remember all the details but it was a lot. If that’s the only reason you run, go for it. Have double the queso for me, please! However, if you feel sluggish and heavy and think your diet is slowing you down (hint: those after lunch cookies when you’re already stuffed) try to cut back on the unhealthy things and see how you feel. Excuse me while I put down this candy bar. It was for a fundraiser for a school so basically I’m helping others by eating it…no?
Running doesn’t get easier. You just get stronger.
Thanks for stopping by!