Hello there! I’m always being asked about what sort of tips and advice I have for beginning runners or training for a big race. I never know what to say… and then I start to say something and I could just type out a short book which just looks ridiculous. So I’m going to put some thought into this, and actually make a nice concrete list.
Now, by no means do I know what I’m talking about, know anything about how the body works, or should be taken seriously. This all comes from my own trial and error and is what works for me. With any luck, it will work for you as well!
1.) Shoes. Having a great fitting running shoe is key to happiness. Small, local running stores are full of trained employees to help you find the perfect fit for your running style and foot type. It is also important to change your shoes every 300-500 miles depending on the make. At one point I had a pair of Nikes that I thought looked like they were still new, but the stability cushioning had compressed over time and the shoe was no longer providing the support my flat feet need. The better your shoes fit and feel the less pain and risk of injury for you! It is also important to remember not to buy your shoes too small since your feet can swell half a size up during long runs (and no one wants squished broken toenails… ew.)
2.) Assess your fitness level. Should you really start out running twenty miles a day on your first week of running? Probably not. Start out running with lower mileage until you build up your stamina. If you already lead an active lifestyle, running may come easier than someone who makes little to no time for exercise. You don’t want to overdo it on your first few weeks of running, that’s a sure way to hate it. If you can’t run far in the beginning, it’s ok to walk! It gives you body a few seconds to recover. There are good programs out there like “couch to 5k” that are literally designed to take your from the couch to a 5k. This one in particular starts out with alternating walking and running.
3.) Tying into the last point… Find a training plan that works for you. Having a schedule is a great way to keep on track and record you running. There are A LOT of schedules out there. You may even need to make your own up based on a few. They are generally formed on levels like beginner, intermediate, and advanced. I’m a fan of the programs incorporated through the Nike+ running app. I think they do a good balance of days off with cross training and long runs. For me, the more distance I cover in a week, the more confident of a runner I am. If you have less time during the week, there are training schedules out there that put a bulk of the milage during the weekend.
4.) Get into a routine. Morning bird? Night owl? Find your happy time to run and make it part of your daily routine. I like running right after a long day of sitting at a desk. It loosens me up and relieves any stress I gained at work. However, when it is in the middle of the summer, I like waking up early to run before the heat hits the pavement. Find the best time that works for you and your schedule.
5.) Don’t skip those long runs! These are KEY to building up to running a marathon or half. Distance will come with time, and then speed will come with distance. It’s like a formula.
6.) Listen to your body. I may have just said stick to a schedule, but it is okay to skip a day (or even rearrange your running schedule). If you spent all day at the beach and are sun burnt and dehydrated… it may be in your favor to take the day off instead of going out for a 20 miler. Are you having a pain in your ankle? DON’T RUN THROUGH PAIN. I REPEAT. DON’T RUN THROUGH PAIN. I’ve made this mistake. “Oh! It’s just my knee, it will be fine tomorrow” followed by hobbling around the office. If you are feeling any kind of pain it is best to rest, ice, and see a doctor if the problem persists. Sometimes taking a day off is more beneficial than having a crappy run.
7.) Get motivated. In a running slump? Get some new music. Find a running friend. Treat yourself to a new pair of socks. I like PRO Compression socks. Be all like “If I stick to my running schedule this week, I’m going to get a new pair of shorts!” Little things like that really help me stay motivated. Remember, this is not high school, there is no one telling you when or what to run. You are your own coach/cheerleader/motivator. When all else fails, read about other people running. You will get jealous of their awesomeness.
8.) Do some research. There is a lot of stuff out there about running! If you want to know what someone’s big race day was like, read a blog! There are thousands of race recaps out there. I know I used strategy when I was planning for my marathon. I wanted to know when people to GUs, drank water, if they had to pee, what they wore, etc. etc. You can read about my marathon recap here! I can get wrapped up for hours reading about running, nutrition, racing, gear, gadgets, you name it!
SO, hopefully you found some of that information useful. Or at least entertaining. PLEASE share with me any advice you also think is important! I’m always looking for new tips and tricks!