I did say there was a theme - and Shirley's running REALLY inspires me (especially at the moment as I have tennis elbow and can't do my normal weights - cardio it is!) I would double-emphasise number 2 in her tips - very, very wise advice.
Ten Tips for New Runners
By Shirley Jump
It’s spring, which means lots of people are going to be thinking about exercising more (yeah, I know, we all made that resolution in January and lasted to, oh, January 10th before it was broken) and getting that beach body, or at least a body that has enough stamina to hike down the sand to the water with a cooler, beach chairs, sandals, and enough sunscreen to blot out the entire solar system.
To get that beach body, you need to exercise. For me, my favorite exercise, and the only one I can do because I have zero coordination, is running. I took up the sport a little over two years ago and have run numerous 5ks, 10ks and three half marathons since then. I’m kinda addicted, and when the weather is nice, I’m like a puppy at the window, dying to get out and run around the park. If you’re thinking about taking up running, here are my top ten tips for new runners:
1. Start slow. I started by walking, then adding running from light pole to light pole. I’d gradually increase that distance, until I could get to a mile without stopping. When I could run that far, I knew it was time to get serious, which meant:
2. Get good running shoes. From an actual running store. DO NOT go to a chain or a store in the mall for running shoes. You need to be fitted by a professional, especially one who does gait analysis. Your feet are your most important tool in running and you don’t want to skimp here. Have someone who knows what they are doing analyze and fit you, and don’t be talked into bells and whistles that don’t feel comfortable. Your running shoes will likely be at least one full size larger than you normally wear, to give your feet room to expand when you run, and should have the proper support for your form. Don’t buy Newtons because your friend loves them or Nikes because you saw them on some Olympic athlete’s feet. Buy what works for your gait and stride.
3. Stretching is important. Before you run, you should do a warmup, with dynamic stretches. There’s all kinds of science behind why you do dynamic stretches before and static stretches afterwards. Google it. Be knowledgeable. After you run, ALWAYS do static stretches. It really helps your body recover.
5. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. Especially as the weather gets warmer! It’s important to drink lots and lots of water. I drink water all day and usually run in the morning. I don’t drink much before I run (because then I’d end up in the restroom a lot) but I do make sure to drink a lot the day before and after a run. On hot/humid days, I carry water with me—one bottle of water and one with electrolytes in it, usually on what’s called a fuel belt (a handy thing on your waist that holds a couple water bottles).
6. Eat right. The food you put in your body is the fuel that powers your runs. If you eat donuts all day, it’s like putting watered-down gas into your car’s tank. Eat right to run/exercise right.
7. Crosstrain. I admit, I am not so good about this one. Running works one group of muscles, while cross-training, like bike riding, swimming, aerobics classes, weight lifting, will work the others, which in turn makes you a stronger runner.
8. Don’t worry about times, paces, splits, etc. You’re not Shalane Flanagan or Ryan Hall. You’re running for fun and health, so don’t worry about all the rest. Have fun.
9. Run in the rain (but not if it’s lightning out). There’s something awesome about running in the rain. A light rain is fun and refreshing, a no-holds barred storm with wind makes you feel seriously hardcore and teaches you that you can conquer almost anything.
10. Find running friends. You can find other runners online, at groups like Running for Brews, or at local running stores. I remember being totally intimidated the first time I went. I’m not a fast runner, and I’m a little whiny, and I thought I’d be running all by myself. I have never ended up running by myself—runners are the warmest, most inclusive, friendliest and most helpful group of people out there. And you will have seriously epic fun times. I remember one holiday season run when we all sang Christmas carols on the run. It was literally the most fun run I have EVER had. I can’t wait to do it again!
Running is amazing and awesome and fun. Yes, it has its moments of extreme suckage. The first mile, someone once told me, ALWAYS sucks, and she was right. It doesn’t matter how many times I run or how far I run, I always, always, always hate that first mile. Then I find my groove and settle into my pace, and find a good song on the radio or an interesting podcast to listen to, and the miles click by. Every run, I try to push myself a teeny tiny bit farther or harder, and when I’m done, I am ALWAYS glad I ran. Every single solitary time. And the best part of all? I can eat cookies and not gain weight ;-).
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