In case you missed it, I answered some questions yesterday for Ashley of The Small But Mighty Runner. Check it out!
In honor of the JA racing his first race of the season this weekend, as well as today marking four weeks until my half marathon, I thought it’s be cool to write a post to all the new runners out there. We started running last year and while we’re no experts, here are some things we’ve learned along the way.
1. Get fit for shoes by an expert. This one is a must. Specialty running stores exist for a reason, and that is to help you stay pain and injury free. The JA began running in the incorrect shoes — immediately resulting in shin splints. I urged him to get fit for shoes and once he finally conceded, he was so much happier. It’s can be a big expense, but one that’s very much worth it in the end.
2. You don’t have to be a speed demon. This was my biggest misconception before I began running. It’s why running didn’t stick for me until I joined a running group. I thought running = sprinting. I wasn’t enjoying my runs, I was competing each and every time. While I still like to see a certain pace on my watch, I’m more concerned with how running makes me feel. The freedom, challenge, and confidence it gives me. Get out there, put one foot in front of the other, and remember you’re lapping everyone sitting on the couch.
3. Stretch. Neither of us are big stretchers. However, in training for my first half marathon I’ve learned the importance of stretching both before and after a run. Stretching before loosens you up and helps prevent injury. Stretching after aids in recovery and leads to a much better ‘day after.’
4. Don’t compare yourself to other runners. It’s easy to fall into the comparison trap – especially when there are so many enthusiastic runners out there. The JA and I don’t run with each other because we’re both highly competitive. Running should be fun and comparing your journey to someone else’s could lead to discouragement. It’s as simple as this: if you run, you are a runner. No matter how fast or how slow, a mile is the same for everyone.
5. Start small, but dream big. I remember when running a mile seemed like it took forever (and trust me, there are days that it still does). I started running 1 mile, then 2, then 3, then 3.1 It took me a bit to get used to racing and learning to pace myself so I didn’t burn out. (See #2.) I completed a few 5Ks, then increased to a 10K, then ran a 5-miler to end the season last year. To help get me through the winter, I decided to set a goal of running a half marathon this year, and here I am. Some people I know jumped from training for a 5K to training for a half. Good for them! I wanted to take my time and really work on gaining my confidence. Just like pacing yourself for speed is important, the same goes for mileage.
Runners out there, who’s got some other tips? Anything big that I missed?