Hi everyone! I hope you live in a place that is getting a bit of a warm front right now. In Philly it went up into the 60s yesterday and it felt so good to be outside in just a hoodie (although tomorrow it will be back down in the 20s so my winter coat is still out!). This is the perfect weather for running! For all of you non-runners out there, spring weather might be just the thing to motivate you to start running! If you or one of your friends decides to try out running this spring, congrats and welcome to the very exciting and addicting world of running! Running is one of the easiest sports to start because you can do it alone, only need a few items in order to do it, and you can literally do it anywhere. But it can get overwhelming really quickly if you don’t know what to do! As a still-new runner who got into running alone I know how you feel and I’m here to help! Here are some of my tips for new runners (note: I’m not a running coach, so consult your doctor for more official advice if you think you need it!)
1. Get a good pair of running shoes. I know at first this is a tough step – you don’t know how your feet land when you run, let alone if you like running enough to invest in a $100 pair of shoes. But this is such an important step! I actually ran for an entire year in a super cute pair of pink Nikes that I got on sale at Kohls and thought were the best shoes ever. I’d run a bunch of 5ks in them and even a 10k. So imagine my surprise when I went to a running store, had my gait analyze, and found out that I overpronate? That meant that the shoes I had been running in were actually hurting my feet and putting me at risk for injury! While I think any pair of shoes will get you through a 5k, you should definitely go to a running store and learn what shoes work best for you before you train for anything longer. My gait analysis involved walking barefoot on a treadmill for 15 seconds while an employee took a video of my feet on his iPad. That’s all it took for them to learn how my feet land and what shoe would be best for me. After they suggested stability shoes to help correct my overpronation, I was able to try out many stability shoes at different running stores, find the one I liked best, and then find them for the cheapest price possible online. I ended up spending about $80 which is pretty good for Mizunos!
2. Stock up on moisture-wicking workout clothes. This is much easier than finding shoes. Stores like TJ Maxx/Marshalls, Target, and even Walmart have some workout clothes made with moisture-wicking fabric for really cheap prices. I started out by running in cotton clothes and soon realized that when cotton gets wet it gets heavy, irritates my skin, and makes me cold. Check clothing labels and only buy items that are not made with cotton if you want to stay drier and more comfortable while running! Plus any excuse to buy cute new clothes is a good one, right?
3. Find a safe place to run. This might not apply to everyone, but in my area this is very important! I don’t feel safe running too far from my apartment (I’ll do the same 1 mile loop around my neighborhood over and over) so whenever I have the chance I’ll go running in a local state park with a 4.3 mile running trail, lots of other runners/walkers to keep me company, and a park ranger who drives around the trail making sure that everyone is safe. One big perk to this route is that it runs through the most beautiful scenery ever, and I never get tired of running on this trail! I always let my husband know when I start/finish each run there so that he knows where I am and would be able to send help if I needed it. I even run with my phone when I’m alone just in case I might need it! If you’re running through a neighborhood, watch for cars and make sure that you can be seen at all times!
4. Set small goals at first to ensure success. I’m usually the worst about doing this, but when I started running I actually did a pretty good job of starting slow! For my very first run I said to myself “I wonder if I could run a mile?” and ran one mile without stopping. Believe me, that was enough! I was tired, thirsty, sweaty…and filled with a sense of pride at being able to do something new! If I had gone out trying to run 3.1 miles I would have felt a lot different, and probably wouldn’t have tried running again for a very long time. One big thing I’ve learned about running is that everyone is at a different place with running, and you can’t compare yourself to others. It’s hard when you’re reading running blogs and people are doing 10 mile runs and acting like it’s no big deal, but believe me – 10 miles ARE a really big deal, and something that you need to work up to. Take small steps and add distance slowly whenever you feel that you are ready.
5. Sign up for a race to train for. This is a great motivator and will help you get excited about pushing yourself to run more frequently. It took me a few months to gather up the courage to run my first 5k, but it was such an awesome feeling when I crossed that finish line! Find a training plan online and make time in your schedule to actually follow it. You’ll become a stronger runner and fall in love with running even more!
6. Remember that running is sometimes more of a mental struggle than a physical struggle. This is one of the toughest things when you first start running. You’ll have many runs where you ask yourself why you stopped running and realize that you did it because your brain gave up before your legs did. Pushing yourself to run one more minute will make you a stronger person both mentally and physically. This actually never really goes away, you just get better at telling your brain to be quiet.
7. Have fun! You started running for a reason, so remember that whenever you start to feel not-so-loving feelings about running. Whatever the reason you started running, if you really do get something out of it you need to find a way to keep loving running. I run after work at the state park near my office and really enjoy the solitude and scenery. It’s just what I need after a long day at work and I couldn’t imagine living without it now. It helps me relieve stress and keeps me from getting bored since I always have something new to train for. Find what you love about running, and stick with it!
What advice do you have for new runners? What do you wish you knew when you first started running?