As part of my blogging break, I’ve asked some of my friends to guest post. This post is from Michelle of The Cooking Life, a blog I’ve recently discovered and am really enjoying. I hope you find this post as helpful as I did!
Hi, everyone! Since Emily is on vacation, she’s letting me write a guest post here :-) I feel very honored! Emily is a recently new blog friend but from the day I started reading her blog, I knew I would keep coming back. From her recipes to her genuinely honest writing, it’s definitely a great blog to read.
But I digress. After all, I have a point in writing this!
When Emily and I were communicating about what I could write about here, we both agreed on the subject of running, especially since she is pretty new to the sport. As for me, I’m not an elite athlete, nor am I an advanced runner. I’m just a girl who was once new to running herself. I was a beginner. Just like how some of you are right now. We’ve all got to start somewhere, right?
I have to preface the rest of my words by telling you that I’m not a personal trainer. I’m not a registered dietician. I’m not certified to coach running (though I hope to be one day!). I’m not an expert runner. Again, I’m just an ordinary girl – a girl who works 40 hours a week while juggling spending time with her husband and her friends and running, among other things. I caught the running bug big time this past year, after running on and off for the last decade. Running is something I finally enjoy doing (let’s be realistic here – there are many times that running is not the most fun thing to do). I’m lucky enough to be surrounded by some friends who enjoy the sport as much as I do – and we’re all crazy enough to get up before the butt crack of dawn to get a 5 mile run in, just so the Texas sun doesn’t melt us into oblivion as the hours tick forward. During those runs, we’re able to run a slower pace and catch each other up from the week’s events and happenings. Every once in a while, someone in the pack will pick up the pace and we all follow suit. Sometimes we’ll talk about past races we’ve done to ones we want to sign up for but don’t have the money to spend on!
But back to my point. We all had to start somewhere. When I was in college and had no idea what running was really about, I would just tag along with my friends and go. Sure, I’d be the last person in but I finished. That was years ago. Then life would get in the way and I wouldn’t run for several more years. I even did my first half marathon 4 years ago and then didn’t run for a couple of more years after that. (Not recommended, by the way.) But when I really started running regularly, beginning in January 2010, I didn’t even think I could run a mile without falling apart. With proper training, I surprised myself.
So you think you can run? (hehehe)
The fact that you’ve decided to start running is great in my book. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Of course, you have to get out there and run. What’s next, you ask? Well, here are a few tips that I hope will be helpful to you – things I’ve learned along the way as my love of running has grown.
1. Get the right kind of shoes. I used to think running in my gray, size 6 ½ New Balance sneakers that I wore daily be fine. Unfortunately, I learned that feet tend to swell during the day so by the time I would settle into a run, my toes would start feeling numb because there was no breathing room for my feet in the too-tiny shoes. Now, I wear shoes that are specifically for running, and ones that are a half size bigger. You don’t need to spend a ton of money on your shoes but you will probably have to pay more than $30 for a good pair. For more information on shoes, visit this page. Active.com does a great job of explaining how to pick a good shoe.
2. Know your limits. If you’ve never run before, let alone a mile, don’t try and run 8 miles on your first run. Or even that first week you are running. Find a plan for beginners, where you will learn to gradually build up mileage in a safe way. If you’re going from zero miles in a week to running 10-15 miles in a span of seven days, don’t be surprised if you are sore and exhausted, possibly in pain. Listen to your body – if you feel that you need to rest, don’t feel bad not running. It’s okay to give your joints and muscles some recovery time before your next run. You’ll be glad you rested! When I started training for my second half marathon, I was running with my friend Alicia, a brand new runner. We were so excited to be training for a race together that we ran several days in a row. By day 3, we were exhausted and found ourselves stopping before our run was completed. We were just tired and had overexerted ourselves. We changed our plan and decided to run 3 times a week, with one of those runs being our long run, using Jeff Galloway’s run/walk/run method.
3. Walk if you have to – it’s okay! My first two half marathons were done using the run/walk/run method. I was so glad there was such a thing! When I first got into half marathons, I didn’t know about training properly and I certainly had no experience running long distances. I wasn’t even sure if I could run a mile without stopping so I knew I needed to ease into running. Using this run/walk/run method helped me to train safely and complete 13.1 miles in 2 hours and 45 minutes. I’m not saying you have to follow this method – but if you are attempting to do a long run and you’re getting very tired, by all means walk! Walk for 30 seconds to a minute and then run. With this method, you can run for 5 minutes, walk for 1 minute, then run for 5 minutes again, back and forth. You could walk for one minute after each mile that you run. Or, you can just listen to what your body is telling you – push yourself but if you’re in pain or just really need to have that rest break, walk. Even a short amount of walking will give you the boost that you need to start running again. You would be surprised at how much energy you’ll have towards the end of a long run if you build in regular walk breaks. For more information on Jeff Galloway’s run/walk/run method, visit this page.
4. Find a friend to run with. Running is a solo sport, in the sense that you’re not having to rely on team members to get you through a run (unless, of course, you’re doing a relay). I actually love to run by myself as the runs can just be dictated by me and no one else. I don’t have any distractions but my own thoughts. But as much as I love my alone time, running can be lonely, if you’re out there logging those long miles all by yourself. Running with a friend (or two) can be so helpful – you’ll be able to spend time with people you care about, you’ll be distracted from soreness or pain by your friends’ conversations, and you’ll be able to challenge each other to go further and faster than before. I’ve found that the more I run with people faster than me (and trust me – there’s a whole LOT of people who are faster than me), the faster I eventually get. My friends who are more experienced runners have been able to give me tips on recovery and covering long distances and fuel – topics I could have just researched online but ones that mean more to me since my friends have first-hand knowledge of those things. Once, I was doing a 5 mile run with a group of friends and I ended up tripping on the gravel road, scraping both my knees and my right hand pretty bad. Thankfully I wasn’t alone and a friend of mine was able to see that I was okay – okay enough to keep running. It could have been far worse and I couldn’t imagine what it would have been like if I was running by myself, with no help around.
5. Set a goal and sign up for a race. Sure, you’re no Kara Goucher (neither am I, for that matter) so you may not exactly be racing against others. But when you do sign up for a race, regardless of what distance, you’ll be racing against yourself. For me, myself and I – that’s all that matters. To be run faster than before. To cover a distance I’ve never done before. To push myself harder, knowing that it’s in me. We all have different goals, different backgrounds, different abilities. If you’re a new runner, you may just want to cross that finish line! But others may want to finish a specific distance under a certain time. When you sign up for a race, know what your goal is and do what you can to meet that goal. You may not be able to run 5-minute miles but if you can finish your first 5k in 45 minutes and that’s the best you could have done, then you should be proud of yourself. What’s great about running is that you can only just get better. Sign up for that next race and try to beat your previous time – if you put the time and effort into training properly, you might surprise yourself and be faster than before. Races are also just so much fun to do. Adrenaline is flowing, the air is electric, everyone seems to be excited (and on edge). No need to be afraid that you’re a newbie – from my experience, the running community is a very supportive one. In quite a few races that I’ve done, fellow runners have cheered me on when I looked like I was ready to quit. I’ve even struck up conversations with perfect strangers – all because we knew the kind of effort and pain it takes to finish. It’s a camaraderie that I wouldn’t trade for anything. Plus, there’s always the race t-shirt and post-race party!
There are many more things that a beginner runner can learn, but these are things that you will discover the more you run. So take a deep breath, lace up those sneakers and head out the door. Run for yourself and you will grow to enjoy it. Walk if you have to, but don’t stop running. Good luck!