There are so many little tips I have learned from running that I wish I would have known before I started. I wanted to share some of the things I have learned that I have helped me out.
I have had bad experiences from shoes and blisters to overtraining and injuries. But, I have learned from these mistakes and want to share some of the things I have learned. These tips have helped me go from absolutely hating running and dreading my run each day to loving it and looking forward to my run each day.
- Shoes – Shoes are the most important part of running. The wrong shoes can cause injury and make your run miserable. My biggest mistake when I started was not getting fitted for running shoes. When I first started out, I just ran in a pair of shoes that I already had. I ended up getting bad shin splints in both legs. A friend suggested that I get fitted for new shoes, so I did. I had no idea that I needed a bigger shoe than what I was wearing. It made all the difference in the world! My feet and shins no longer hurt when I run, and it was much more comfortable. I also had a pair of shoes that made blisters on my heels so bad. The shoes cut into my heels and bandaids wouldn’t stay on. My shoes and socks would be covered in blood by the time I got done running. I had to tape the back of my shoes in order to run in them. I knew when I did that, that these were not the right shoes for me. I went to a different store and got fitted for a new pair. I have been running in Brooks Ravenna’s ever since.
- It gets easier – Don’t start off thinking you are going to run 3 miles. You will have to build up to that. The more you run, the easier it becomes and the more you will build up your endurance. Don’t set big goals when you start out. Start out with the walk/run method. Don’t get discouraged if you can’t run for very long, you will get there. When I first started out, I would set little goals for myself. I started with running from one mailbox to the next. Once I could do that comfortably, I would run from one mailbox to a one further down the street. I eventually was able to run all the way down the street without stopping. I just kept giving myself little goals until I could meet them. As I began to build up my strength and endurance, I started setting bigger goals. I would tell myself that I will run for 30 minutes, or that I will go 4 miles. (walk/run method) But, don’t get discouraged. It is a process, but it is worth it! I still have days when I have run / walk. Just try to be consistent and run several days a week. This will help you to build up your endurance.
- Find a partner – The biggest help to me starting out was having a partner. This helps you be accountable. Starting out is hard, and I would come up with every excuse not to go. But, I didn’t want to cancel on my friend, so I would go. My friend was very patient with me while I was building up my strength. She would walk with me every time I needed a break. But, running with her also pushed me to keep running longer than I would if I was alone. This helped tremendously in getting me started.
- Start out slow – When you start your run, start out slow. You want to run at a comfortable pace and you won’t do that if you start fast. If you start running fast, you will get tired quickly, and won’t be able to run as long or far as you want to. You need to pace yourself. I learned this at my very first race. I had been running 3 miles and was proud of myself for being able to do that. I was really excited about my first race, so when the gun went off I started out really fast. About halfway through I was out of energy. I wanted to quit, and I was so frustrated with myself. I had to walk almost the entire last half. I finished, but my time was about 8 minutes more than what it had been on my practice runs. I was so discouraged, and it was all because I started out way too fast.
- A short run is better than no run – If you are busy and don’t think you have time for a run, it’s better to get a short one in than none at all. This helps when you are starting out with building up your endurance. If you are busy, and decide to skip a day, that day may turn into two or three. Then anything that you have gained will be lost. With this same topic, I will also throw in that a bad run is better than no run. There were, and still are, days when I have an awful run. I can tell when I start out that it’s going to be bad. Maybe my body is tired, or my stomach is too empty or too full. I can just tell from the beginning that the whole run is going to be difficult. Instead of quitting, I keep going even if I have to walk half of it. This is still better than sitting on the couch!
- Change up your routes – If you run the same route every day you will get bored. Plus, your body will adjust to that route, and you will not build anymore strength. You need to change it up and run different routes. Run hills. I hate hills, with a passion!! But, they will make you a better and stronger runner. This also goes for running on the treadmill. There is a huge difference in running inside and outside. You will get stronger when you run outside because of the hills.
- Run to music – Music helps me to enjoy my run! I make a good playlist and grab my earbuds and get lost in the music. Sometimes I just need to tune everything out and just run. A good playlist will help you to enjoy your run and forget about how long you are running. I also listen to Podcasts when I run. This really helps me on my long runs to get caught up in the story and forget about the miles. Some Podcasts that I like are Serial and Undisclosed.
- Eat right – This is a big lesson that I have learned. First of all, I can’t run on an empty stomach. I get sick and feel weak. I have to have something in me to be able to run. But, I have also had to figure out what I can eat that is agreeable with me before I run. Everyone is different. You may have to try things out and see how they settle in your stomach. For me, I have figured out that granola bars, peanut butter and jelly, and bananas are the best. I have tried yogurt and oatmeal, and many more foods, but they just don’t settle right and then I am feeling sick the whole run. I have also learned that if I eat junk, even if it’s the night before, I feel it during my run. Or if I eat a big lunch and then try to run a few hours later, I don’t run very well. Again, everyone is different. You have to figure out what works for you. But, if you eat junk, you will be able to tell a difference in your runs. As you start out, it may be a good idea to record your meals and your runs. Pay attention to how you run when you eat certain foods, this will help you figure out what foods help you and which ones hurt you.
- Track your progress – Starting out, this will help you tremendously with motivation. Use an app to track your runs. Then you will be able to see when you start running further or faster or for longer. There will be days when you feel discouraged, but if you can see an improvement from where you started, then you will want to keep going. I use Map my Run to log my runs and track my progress. I also have it connected to My Fitness Pal, so I can track my food too.
- Remember your rest days – Remember that rest days are for resting. Your body needs that time to rest your muscles. I used to try to run 7 days a week. I might could do that, but I wasn’t getting any faster or being able to go any longer. I started resting a few days a week, and my runs got better and I could go further. You can also use running rest days for strength training. One of my favorite strength training workouts is a squat workout. While this does make your legs tired, it also helps to build up your muscles which I think helped me to run better.
I’m not an expert, these are just things that I have learned that have helped me out. I hope that there is something on this list that can help you out too!