Wednesday Wisdom: How to Start Feeling Like a Runner

I’m sure we’ve all felt this way at one point:  someone, maybe a coworker or your mom, mentions you in a sentence as a “runner”.  You’re shocked and a bit confused – you’re not a runner!  You just run a lot, and do some races, and have big running goals (Disney Princess anyone?)…

For a lot of people, it’s hard to make that transition from someone who never ran before to being called a “runner”.  At what point did you feel like a runner?  Do you still ever feel like you’re not a “real” runner?


I’ll admit that there are some moments where I really don’t feel like a runner yet, and it’s mostly caused by not understanding a “running term” that people are talking about, or just recently learning that there are things I can buy that will make running a lot easier (such as foam rollers and compression socks).  And although I’m getting through running just fine without these things, I think being a bit more educated on the running culture in general is what makes people (at least, people like me) feel more like a runner.  I mean, if you know what a fartlek is, you’ll feel better when you’re around runners who are talking about it!  So for all of you runners out there, here‘s a list of some common running terms from Runner’s World.   So now when you’re running a negative split, you’ll actually be able to talk about it later!  🙂

Now here’s where I need your help:  I’m actually still pretty clueless on some running stuff, so leave me a comment if you can answer some of my questions!

Compression socks:  When do you wear them?  How often do you wear them?

Fuel:  What’s your favorite kind of fuel?  When/how often do you use fuel?  Should I be using fuel on my 5 mile runs, or wait until I’m running longer?  (I know some of this depends on my body and what works for me but I’d love to hear what you do!)

Foam Rollers:  Who has one?  Should I get one?  Any brand recommendations?


When did you first feel like a runner?  Do you think understanding common running terms and how to use running tools made you feel like a “real” runner?

22 thoughts on “Wednesday Wisdom: How to Start Feeling Like a Runner

  1. I definitely don’t feel like a “runner” yet! I think it’s because I’m still SO new, and I see all these people that can run these crazy distances and do so at even crazier (to me) paces!

    Compression socks- did you get yours yet?! If I’m doing a longer run, I’ll sleep in mine the night before, and then wear them after for the day. Sometimes I wear the while I run. It’s really all about preference!

    Fuel- I’m still playing around with these… I’m really loving nuun tabs. It’s a sugar free/super low calorie (like 8 in a serving) electrolyte drink. You throw the tab in your water, wait 2 minutes and shake it a little! I’ve tried gu as well, and don’t mind them at all. I’ve heard a lot of people have stomach issues though! I just get a few different options and try them out t see what I like best!

    Foam roller- this is on my things to get list too!

    1. Oh I definitely agree with that – it’s intimidating to hear someone say that they ran 20 miles today! But I think signing up for my first Half has helped with that, because someday soon I’ll be able to say I ran 13.1! And thanks for the advice! Pro Compression emailed me and said my socks were shipped yesterday so they should be here soon!

  2. I don’t feel like a runner yet and I’ve been doing it 13 years. Though I guess I’m more apt to call myself a runner than a triathlete even though I’ve been doing those for two years now and am planning a tri heavy and very intense season next year. Maybe someday.

    I want a foam roller. For now hubby has bought “the stick” which is more hand held. It’s okay, but I’d prefer a roller.

    As for fuel, start experimenting. You need to fuel before you feel tired. For me personally, I take my first shotblock at mile 4 since I get tired by mile 6-7 and this prevents me from ever feeling tired. After that I take one every two miles. I also keep some sort of sports drink on my bike for tri’s or in my fuel belt for runs. I’d suggest finding out what brand of sports drink your races will hand out and get some so you know if you like it or not. Never good to grab a cup of something your unsure of from the water station hoping to get an extra spring in your step just to end up unhappy with it. Most races offer either HEED or Accelerade, fyi.

    1. First of all, I totally refer to you as a triathlete all the time 🙂 I also just bought some shotblocks that I’m dying to try. After my 10k I’m going to start trying them out! And I only ever drink water at races because I’m pretty worried about drinking something I’m not used to. I don’t think I’ve ever heard of Accelerade so I’m glad I don’t drink it!

  3. I think I felt like a runner once I ran my first race years ago, which was only a 5k, run at a slow pace, but a race none the less 🙂 I love talking about running, so here are my answers to your questions…
    Compression Socks: You can wear them anytime! I live in FL and it’s hot here most of the time so I rarely wear them on runs, but if it’s cooler where you live, wearing them on a run is perfect! I ALWAYS wear them after long runs or speed workouts, usually under my pants or at night while watching TV.
    Fuel: I like the PowerBar PowerGels. They are liquidy and go down easy. I like the taste of a lot of the GU flavors, but they are too thick for me. I recently did a whole post on fueling that you can check out here-> ) I usually don’t take anything during a run unless it’s longer than 14-16ish miles. I just make sure to have a carby dinner and breakfast. But everyone is different 🙂
    Foam Roller: I LOVE my foam roller, and the Stick. I use it at twice once a day- once before my run and again after. There are a ton of brands out there, but I picked mine up for cheap at Ross. You can also use a tennis ball to target specific areas that might be extra tight.
    I think asking these questions is a pretty good sign your a runner 🙂

    1. Thanks for linking me to your fuel post! I’m more nervous about trying out fuel than anything else because I heard that if something doesn’t agree with your body it’s pretty awful. I’ll check that out! And I’ll have to check out Ross/TJ Maxx/Marshalls for a cheap foam roller!

  4. Great post! I know EXACTLY what you mean – I experienced that same shock when someone referred to me as a “runner.” I liked it though… 😉 I wear my compression socks during my longer runs. I also know people use them post-long runs for recovery. When it comes to fueling, I can never run or do any sort of workout on an empty stomach (some people can, especially in the morning. Then you would use the “one hour rule.” If your workout duration will be longer than an hour, you should fuel. If not, you can probably do it on an empty stomach). I typically eat a Luna Bar prior to working out, or (as mentioned above) GUs are awesome for fueling. I eat one 15 min. prior to starting a run, and then eat another one 45 min to an hour in.

    I’ve never tried a foam roller, but TONS of people have recommended I do, so maybe we can try together and compare notes 😉

    1. Haha I like when people refer to me as a runner too! I wrote about this a month ago, but a little girl at the park pointed at me and said “Look daddy! That runner is tired!” and I was so happy to be called a runner even though she was pointing out how dead I was! I think I need to try GU, everyone is talking about it! And yeah, I definitely can’t work out on an empty stomach. I never thought about eating a Luna bar before a workout but that’s a really good idea!

  5. I have “The Stick” for rolling out my poor muscles after any hard workout, not just runs. I would love a foam roller in addition because they act slightly different. I definitely would recommend one (or both)!

    1. Thanks! Everyone keeps talking about The Stick so I need to check that out. It may be going on my Christmas list haha.

  6. Compression socks: wear them pre-during-post long runs (anything more than 9 mi). For my marathon this weekend, I will sleep in mine and change into a new pair the day of. I like pro-compression and Zensah?

    Fuel: I use Gu and I also like the Powerade ones with caffeine… I use them on longer runs (i.e. anything more than 6 mi.) And if I am running a half, I will use 3. If a full, more.

    Foam Rollers: I have a rumble roller and the stick. The roller hurts like hell. I like the stick more. But it’s supposed to hurt – the more you use it, the less it’s supposed to hurt. My roller is sitting in my closet collecting dust!

    1. Oh man, I didn’t realize the foam roller would hurt! I guess it makes sense though. I just won a pair of Pro Compression socks and I can’t wait to try them out!

  7. So many questions!! 1) compression socks…I don’t have these but I have compression tights because I was told how great they were. However I since found out that the main benefit is wearing compression gear after the run instead of during. I haven’t noticed a difference either way to be honest. The best thing for recovery are ice baths. They’re hell at the time but the next day you’ll feel like new. 2) don’t worry about fuelling for 5 miles, really you only need to think about it for 90 minute plus of running. Always drink a glass of milk as soon as poss after any run, research has shown its the best drink for muscle repair, including manufactured sports and protein drinks. And 3) I bought the cheapest foam roller available and it’s both awesome and a torture device. Use it in the days leading up to long runs as well for the most benefit. Phew! That was the longest comment known to mankind…I’m exhausted now 🙂

    1. Haha I’m sorry I’m making you work so hard! 🙂 Thanks for the advice though! First of all, taking an ice bath sounds horrifying and I just don’t think I can make myself do it. I’m sure it’s helpful but I’d probably die in there. Second, I love drinking chocolate milk after running! I read somewhere that olympic athletes do it so now I totally think it’s okay. And now I’m totally convinced I need a foam roller!

  8. I totally understand what you are saying! I started feeling like a “real runner” just recently, when I started training for my first half marathon. I am definitely still experimenting with most of the things you mentioned. I usually wear my compression socks for a few hours after my long runs or speed workouts. I am officially hooked on Clif Shot Blocks. They taste like candy, and you can buy them at the regular grocery store. I realized I started getting hungry when I ran 10 miles. If I am running 10 or more miles,(I am only up to 13) I usually fuel at the halfway point. This is all just what feels right for my body. I am by no means an expert! I actually use a rolling pin instead of a foam roller or marathon stick. It actually works pretty well!

    1. I know what you mean! I actually felt like a runner after signing up for my Half which is funny because there is literally no running involved in signing up for a race 😛 I just bought some shotblocks since I saw them at Target and was curious on how to use them. I guess I’m just not there yet, but hopefully I’ll be able to use them soon! And that rolling pin idea is amazing! Do you stand up while using it or do you roll yourself over it?

      1. I use it just like the marathon stick thing. I watched a video on Runner’s World on how to use the marathon stick, and I do the exact same exercises with the rolling pin. I usually on eat three of the shot blocks on a run. (3 is one serving.)

  9. It took me so long to feel Ike a real runner…like years. And even now I still feel that way.

    I’ve picked up a lot of running gear and such over the years. I usually wear compression sleeves for recovery post long run, and sometimes during a long run/race depending on the weather (it had to be cool out for me to do this, otherwise I get too hot). I have a foam roller and The Stick and use one or the other to roll out my legs after my long run, or just when I feel tight. For fuel, I like the Cliff Shot Blocks. I’ve never been a big fan of gels and I like with the blocks I can ration them out over the course of the run.

    1. Thanks! I just bought Shotblocks and I’m dying to try them out. It looks like they’re a pretty popular option!

  10. I LOVE my ProCompression socks and usually just wear them for recovery but have worn them on longer runs and they make my calves feel amazing!! I don’t really use anything special for fuel so I’m out on that one. And finally I’m a huge believer in the foam roller for both myself and my clients!

    1. I just won Pro Compression socks and I’m dying to get them in the mail so I can try them out! It sounds like they’re the best socks out there! And I’m also going to have to buy a foam roller now…it looks like I’m the last person to buy one!

  11. Lots of folks mentioned The Stick – FYI you get the same results from a $2 Ikea rolling pin. 🙂 Between that and my foam roller, my muscles love/hate me. I highly recommend both…there are heaps of resources you can find by googling for how to use, but I think my favorite is Peanut Butter Runners Foam Roller 101 video.

    I have compression socks and I’ll be honest – I haven’t noticed much of a difference. Maybe because I max out around 7-8 miles and it would be more noticeable if I were running higher mileage? I don’t know. I never wear them when I actually run, maybe that’s the trick.

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