I've been running for a long time (over two thirds of my life!), so running feels like second nature to me. I don't really remember a time when I haven't been running, so I thought it would be fun to get together a list of tips for the new runner. I hope you enjoy!
Running seems easy, right? Just pick up your feet and put one in front of the other. Believe it or not, the first (or fifth) time you go out for a run it's not going to be easy. The first few steps might be, but it takes a few runs before it starts to get easier. Instead of trying to run 10 miles on your first run, start easy with a few minutes of running and a few minutes of walking, and slowly build up to more and more running and less walk breaks!
I can definitely recommend this from personal experience. Two years ago, Dan was training for his first 5k, and thought he would be able to go out the first day and run two miles. He made it through a short training period and ran the 5k, but didn't enjoy it at all. Last year, I got him to follow a couch to 5k program, which starts off with walk breaks and ends with you running the full 3.1 miles after a few weeks. He felt so much better taking training slowly and easing into more and more miles. It takes some work and patience, but I promise running does get easier-just give it time!
Doing a bunch of running to train for a race is great, but adding in some cross training makes a huge difference. When you're running, your body mostly uses the same muscles in the same motion. This is great- but adding in some weight lifting or yoga can make a huge difference by strengthening your muscles- from your core to your legs and arms- as well as improve your flexibility.
I've trained for races just by running and by adding in a few days of cross training each week, and I can't even tell you the huge difference that adding in other activities made. I feel stronger, running feels easier, and I feel like it really helps my performance on race day. Plus, cross training helps keep you sane so that you're not just running, and running, and running....
Don't Be Afraid
Now that you're running, it's time to pick a race (or not- just running for yourself and not to compete is cool too)! It's intimidating to sign up for and compete in your first race, but every runner has been there. It might seem scary to join a bunch of people who you think are faster than your or have way more experience. Luckily, the running community is fantastic and always welcoming to new runners.
Find a small, local race near you so that you can practice running parts of the course. Get there early enough to pick up your packet, use the porta-john, and get out pre-race nerves (side note- no matter how many races you run in your life you will probably always have pre-race nerves!). Then- enjoy yourself! Try not to start out too fast, but remember to enjoy your first race. And remember- since this is your first race it's an automatic PR!
Nothing new on race day
You might be tempted to buy a special outfit for your first race, get a brand new pair of shoes, and have a huge breakfast so that you have tons of energy during the race. Don't do it! What happens if your new top rubs you the entire race, or your shorts are uncomfortable, or your shoes give you blisters, or your breakfast isn't sitting well in your stomach?
All of these things could ruin your experience on race day. Practice with different breakfast foods until you find something that sits well with you (for me, that's sweet potatoes, eggs and a banana). Wear your favorite outfit that makes you feel super cool, and the shoes that are most comfortable.
Your turn! Give me your best tips for new runners!
How long have you been running?