7 Things I Wish I Knew When I Started Running
If you've ever considered picking up a running habit, but don't know where to start, this post is for you!
I know exactly how you feel, since that's where I was just a few years ago. If I'm being honest the only reason I got started with running was because I wanted to loose weight. I still remember standing there thinking “I need to get fit. Fit people run, right?” I never would have expected that three years later I'd be a half marathoner!
So if you're just getting started, don't feel bad! Everyone starts somewhere. Here are things that either helped me get started, or that I wish I had known sooner.
1. Get some good shoes
First things, first. If you're going to start running regularly you're going to want to put some money into a decent pair of running shoes. It's no secret that I love ASICS, but I've also heard good things about Brooks. A decent pair of shoes will generally run you $50-$100, but your feet will thank you! Believe me. There's few things more painful than running in shoes that aren't good for your feet. If you need help finding a good pair, check out my blog post specifically about finding the right pair of shoes.
2. Find a training plan.
Whether your goal is to run a 5k, 10k, half marathon or just do some HIIT workouts, find a plan and stick to it. The internet is a wealth of information and you can find free plans for just about anything. If your goal is to run a race I'm a huge fan of Zen Labs' training apps. They have one for a 5k, 10k, half marathon and full marathon. The 5k app is free, and the rest are under $10 and definitely worth the investment! They're equipped with audio cues so you never have to worry about setting a timer for your next split.
3. Take your training plan seriously.
It's not enough to just have one, stick to it! I failed to do this while training for my first half and it lead to a pretty poor performance. Life happens and a workout or two will be skipped but try to do more than you skip.
4. Get the right clothes.
This does not mean you need the newest, fanciest, most expensive clothes. This means you need clothes that are comfortable and that you feel good in. If it's cold out you need clothes that are going to keep you warm, if it's hot you need clothes you won't bake in. Always dress to be a little cool when you start, because you'll warm up quickly – trust me. If you can afford it, get some clothes that make you feel pretty, confident, sexy, strong, etc. This'll make it easier to get up and go.
5. Get off the treadmill!!
Unless your goal involves only running on the treadmill, eventually you will have to get off it, and the sooner you do the better. Otherwise you'll get used to the treadmill doing all the pacing work for you, and you'll have a heck of a time learning to naturally pace yourself. Believe me, I know from experience. This is another moment when having technology can be a huge benefit. Having an app like Map My Run or Runkeeper that gives you your speed in real time can be a helpful tool in learning what a realistic speed feels like.
6. Experiment with refueling during long runs before your race.
For my first half marathon I knew there would be refueling stations during the race, so I relied on that to refuel during my run. Never. Again. I went way slower than my goal pace, so I was already about two hours into my race before I hit the first station with gummy bites, and that was not soon enough.
For my second half I experimented with different mid-race fuel and came up with a with a couple options that I brought with me to the race. I was able to start re-fueling about thirty minutes into the race, and it made a huge difference! A good general rule is to consume 30-60 grams of carbohydrates for every hour that you're running. Again, it's best to experiment with your long runs to find what works for you.
7. Just fricking start!!
This goes against everything I just said, but in all honesty it's going to suck at first no matter how “prepared” you are, so just start! Sign up for a race and tell everyone you know that you're going to do it. Post it on FaceBook, Instagram, Twitter, your blog, ect. Tell all your family and coworkers and friends. Tell so many people, and commit so whole-heartedly that if you don't do it you'll be completely embarased. Then DO IT.