As 2015 comes to a close and we look forward to goals and aspirations for 2016, I realized there are a lot of people who have set running goals for the upcoming year. For instance, my goals are to run longer, run faster, and complete a marathon.
I also realize that newbies to the sport, those that have taken some time off (eh hmm…right here), and those that are just ready to crush some new goals need some encouragement as well as some helpful tips (and most of these are ones I wish I had known when I started!)
Back in 2009 I decided…I don’t really remember why…to run. I think it was a combination of thinking I would lose weight really fast and some people at work were into it, and hey, I wanted to be the cool kid too! But what came out of that start was a passion for running I didn’t know I had…and a lot of misfires.
When I say misfires, I mean I started and stopped a lot. I ran one day, took two weeks off, did the treadmill for 15 minutes, and then would take a month off. (Funny how I didn’t lose that weight like I thought I would!) Fast forward three years and I decide to run a half marathon. What in the hell was I thinking?
So I started actually training, albeit hit and miss at best, but I did complete my first half marathon November 2012. From then on I was hooked. I have completed 5 half marathons and a handful of 5Ks, 10Ks, and 15Ks. And while it hurt and sucked at times, I still love doing what I do!
But what do I wish I had known way back in the day…and yes that was 2009…when I thought, “Hey, why don’t I try running?!”
Patience. To this day I still struggle with patience…I want to be fast. Now. When beginning to run it can be discouraging for newbies and returners to not be fast or to become winded so soon after starting. I know I was sucking air after about 5 seconds of starting (okay, maybe a slight exaggeration, but I promise…just slight). Running is just like every thing else we have to work for in life; it takes time, practice, and patience. The more you do it, the more you will start to see the changes you want and you will start to get better, stronger, and faster. Just don’t stop! (Unless of course there is injury…then obviously stop and evaluate the injury.)
Understanding. And not in the way you think. Take stock of your body before you go out. How does it feel? Memorize that and learn what uncomfortable feels like and what injured feels like. Uncomfortable means you can return to comfortable fairly quickly. Injured means you don’t recover; the pain stays around after it should have gone away (including soreness…it should go away within a couple of days of starting; if it doesn’t, you might have an injury.)
Go slow. Seriously. If you’re starting out or coming back from a hiatus, add mileage slowly. If you go too fast, too soon, chances are you are going to hurt yourself (and that means even more time off from running.) Every thing I have ever read about adding mileage says to add 10% of the previous week’s mileage to the next week. So 10 miles last week, add 1 mile this week. It’s another test of your patience, but you need to build up the mileage slowly and safely.
Eat better. This may be a given and go hand-in-hand with your New Years resolution, but fueling your body to run is a must. And cheeseburgers do not fuel the body (trust me, I’ve tried!) Getting enough water and the right nutrients makes running a whole lot easier. Think about lugging that cheeseburger for 3 miles…
Have fun. In the scope of all of this, remember to have fun! Running can be such a fun, enjoyable experience and it can offer great ways to see your city and meet new people. Some of my best gal pals are my running buddies…we grew closer because of our love of running. Find new routes, find new people to go with you, find fun incentives to get you out the door…remember it is above all a fun way to exercise and be healthy!