|yeah probably not supposed to be using this image.
oh well. I’m on the far right.
About a year and a half ago, I started trying to “be a runner” and while I’ve had some “downtime” along the way, I’m still working toward that goal. (For the record, I do think I’m a runner, my goal is to continue feeling that way.)
I know some of my friends are trying to pick up running, so I’ve been shelling out advice here and there and figured it would be good stuff for a blog post … so … here is my super expert (not really) running advice beyond the “get a good pair of shoes” stuff. Feel free to add your own lessons learned in the comments.
I must be clear, I am in no way an expert. Also what works for me might not work for you. Seek an actual professional for the good advice.
You will have bad days. Don’t let them derail you. Every runner has bad days. You never stop having them. The trick is not to let it get you down. The best way to bounce back from a bad run? Figure out what went wrong, and then get out there for your next scheduled run and kick ass at it. Like anything in life, when something doesn’t go as planned, just roll with it and keep going.
If you run, you are a runner. There is no magic number that makes you a real runner. If you run, you are a runner. Plain and simple.
Other runners are not judging you. One of my friends said her lack of running confidence gets in her way. She didn’t elaborate on what causes the lack of confidence, so I’m just interpreting this from my own point of view. Anyway. When I’m out running, and I see another person running, I don’t look at how slow or fast they are going, or if they stop to walk. I don’t care what they look like. I think “cool! another runner!” and give a little wave and smile and a quick “hi” if they aren’t listening to music. Most people know when they are out running that they don’t look their best, and are competing with themselves, that they don’t worry about competing with other runners. Also everyone has to start slow. We were all there at one point.
Hydrate. Do not try to run 11 miles on a sunny, 70-degree day, on a trail with little to no shade, and not have a plan for how to hydrate. Because around mile 8 you will be so parched and tired and desperate that you will call your husband and ask him to bring you water. Ask me how I know this. (And if he hadn’t answered his phone, or I hadn’t had my phone on me, I probably would have started drinking water out of puddles on the side of the trail, no lie.) Now, I always have some plan for water, unless I am running 3 miles or fewer on a pleasant, 60-degree or cooler non-humid day. Otherwise, I am plotting my routes to pass by water fountains, or pass by my house, or pass by my car which has a bottle of water, at least once every 1.5-3 miles.
Body Glide. Use it. Do not try to run a half marathon (or any other distance, really) in shorts without it. Ask me how I know.
You don’t have to spill water on yourself during races. I cannot believe it took me so many races to figure this out. The obvious answer is walk the water stations. The other answer is push in the sides of the cup (so the opening becomes an oval) and drink out of one of the narrow ends. Duh.
Sometimes just getting up and going is the hardest part. It took me a long time to get to a point where I honestly enjoy running. Where it doesn’t feel like a chore. But while I was working to get there, there were so many times I didn’t want to run. A lot of times I gave into to that feeling. (That would be the “downtime” I mentioned at the beginning of this post.) I almost didn’t run my first half marathon (because of one bad day that I let derail me) and spent a good 20 minutes the morning of talking myself into it (at 6am … seriously … it was hard). But I’m so glad I did. I’m so glad I’ve stuck with it. Not only have I lost weight, but I feel great. Not just physically, but mentally. I feel good knowing I can stick to something, that I can still reach goals.
You will continue to surprise yourself. For me, getting to a place where I enjoy running has been a surprise. Where I not only don’t make excuses not to run, but I make efforts to get in my run if I have other stuff going on. And seeing my pace improve, and winning my age group in a race, have also been surprises.
What did I forget?