I still consider myself a newer runner. I took more serious interest in running after a friend suggested I train for and run a half marathon with her in August, 2015. Without her asking me and her guidance, I don’t know if I would have had the courage to do so on my own. I don’t always have a lot of faith in myself and previously never thought I could run 4 miles, let alone 13.1. Now, in my second year of running I am really falling more and more in love with the run – during the run and especially how I feel after the run. Now, don’t get me wrong, I still have horrible, awful, no good running days, struggle sometimes to get started, or get aches and pains, but the good days make me keep coming back. I wanted to offer a few tips about running I have found in the past two years. I imagine running is different for everyone and seasoned runners probably know this stuff. However, if you are newer to running or getting back into the groove, please read these and hopefully they help you out.
In these two short years of running my thinking has changed drastically so it’ll be fun to look back on this post in another few years and see my thoughts.
Give it time – it takes time to get better, get faster, to feel like you are NOT going to die. Start out doing a run/walk combo. You aren’t going to start out running a half marathon, or even a mile, on day one. Everyone needs a starting point. It’s nothing to be ashamed of.
Pace and time – unless you are an elite athlete, no one cares. The only person who should care is you. If you run a 6 minute mile or a 12 minute mile, it is still a mile!
Gadgets – wow, there are so many gadgets. You can run with your phone, your iPod, watch, ear buds, some people run with two watches. You don’t need any of it. You just need whatever shoes you find comfy. The gadgets and measuring can get too overwhelming. I run with a watch and that is it. I like to see my pace and mileage and it doubles as the watch I wear daily. It is a Garmin Vivoactive. It was free to me, so I really love that.
Shoes – again, lots of options. It’s great to hear from other runners what they like, but ultimately they have to work for your feet. That is why there are so many options. Try buying last year’s model before you spend big bucks on something you know you will like. Last year’s model can usually be found discounted. (Running has totally wrecked my feet but how cute are those little paws that photo bombed the pic below?)
Running route – switch it up. It can be easy to run the same route on the daily. (I feel I have ran on almost every street in Hazen!) But mentally it is good to switch it up. Try different running surfaces or even run in another town/city if you can. Drive to run? Yep, I have done it. Hazen is pretty small so I run similar routes weekly and it can get boring. Try a different town, especially if you are away for the weekend. It’s a great way to see a city.
Run the track – the track is a great, soft surface for your feet and you can try to do some speed work while you are at it. The distance is easy to measure or even just try running fast on the straights and recover on the curves. I try to alternate which way I run – you don’t have to run counter clockwise. My foot doctor gave me that tip! Our local track is open at nearly all times, I am thinking other tracks are as well. You can see my route below with the oval is several times around the track!
Races – you don’t have to run or participate in races to be a runner. They are fun though and it is a great way to set a goal. However, if you aren’t interested or don’t want to pay to run, you don’t have to.
Walking is OK – take a break when or if you need to. Try walking just until you feel better and run again at a slow pace. I encourage you to keep your time running if you walk IF you are using something to measure your distance and time. Just because you stop for water or to walk, doesn’t mean time does. It just helps keep you honest and know your true pace.
Run with your friends – I admit, I prefer to run alone for the most part. However, I have a group of girls and we text and check in with each other and it is motivating and keeps a person accountable. I also will sometime send Snapchats to friends and they send back – it’s nice to know you aren’t alone. Cheer each other on. If anything, it’s great for a laugh, these ladies are the best!
Training plans – there are a ton of training plans online for free. If you want some direction, try one out. You can do Couch to 5K and pretty much most distances above that. Don’t feel guilty if you can’t follow the plan 100%, but try to stick to it fairly closely.
Schedule your run – I have been exercising for quite a while now and it is ingrained that I workout 5-6 days a week. It might be something like an easy walk for a half hour, but I do something to consciously move my body. I come up with a schedule each week and stick to it. Treat it just like work or an appointment and show up, even if your heart isn’t in it. You’ll be glad you did.
Race prep – if you are training for a race (especially a 10k or half), I would recommend running another race first or prior to your big goal. You will likely have a lot of nerves and experiencing a race, how you go out, what you do before your big event will really help you. This is something I never did and have a bit of regret over that. It was not in my best interest to have never done any event (other than walking 5k’s) and then go run a half marathon race.
Check the weather – always check the weather forecast. This summer I have done my best to run in the rain, wind and humidity. These are things out of my control and I just have to deal with it. And I HATE the wind. Running in the rain is fine, but make sure you aren’t caught up in lightening or severe weather. I had a long run I scheduled to go out of town but switched it up when the forecast called for a storm. I stayed in town in neighborhoods where I knew people or knew where I could go. I actually had a friend come and offer to take me home during this particular run. Instead, I just ducked into my local bank (the lobby is always open for the ATM) and waited out the wind and then kept running.
Treadmill – the treadmill is great to utilize in poor weather, especially in winter when we have subzero temperatures. But remember to get some outdoor runs in as well if you are training for an outdoor race. You will definitely notice a difference between the machine and the road. Don’t rely on the speed of the treadmill; try to get familiar with the speed of your own feet. Hearty North Dakotans will often run in temps that are 0 with no issues as long as you are dressed properly.
Injuries – pay attention to your body and take time off if you are injured. Coming back kind of stinks, but the alternative is much worse.
Run the distance of the race – this might just be me (and goes back to self-doubt) but if I am training for a race, I prefer to run as far as or further than the race, prior to the race. I know there are plenty of other people who do not do this. Do what works for you. For me, mentally, I need to know I am capable of doing that distance. A few times, weeks prior to a run, I will go further than what I am training for. It helps me with confidence.
All that said – and that was a LOT – find out what works for you. Switch things up and try different techniques. If that is your clothes, where you run, your gadgets, whatever – just try something new. You might surprise yourself. You don’t want to get stuck in a rut. If you find something you love, it isn’t work at all to do it. I barely consider running to be exercise anymore, I consider it mental health and some me time. Health benefits are a bonus. Enjoy your next run.