Last week I was talking to a friend of mine who was asking me for running advice. While I’m semi used to a friend asking me every so often for work out advice (ie. weights, etc.) I have never been asked for advice on running before. I’ve been working out at the gym since I was 14 but have only been a consistent runner for not quite a year yet, so needless to say I was surprised and pleased to offer my experience.
When I first began running, I didn’t have an agenda. I remember being pretty angry, actually, and knowing that the only way I could blow off some steam without going crazy was to work out. But somehow, going to the gym just didn’t seem good enough. So I literally put on my work out clothes and ran out the door. I don’t know why I stuck with it. I’d had a pretty good run and always knew that I needed to incorporate more cardio into my work out routines. I felt confident, though I have no idea why, that if I became a runner I would lose some weight. And I was right. So from then on, I started running on a consistent basis. And the results are what keep me going.
I’ve been hesitant to call myself a runner this past year even though I run about 3 or 4 times a week. It wasn’t until Tricia posted this picture to her Instagram that it really dawned on me that yes, I was indeed a runner! What more do I need to convince myself of that than the fact I run on a constant basis? Don’t ask me why some random quote on a picture resonated with me but it did.
As an avid, yet still very amateur runner, here is my advice for you:
Don’t Compare Yourself to Others – I feel like this is the biggest downfall for a lot of people. Each person is different. Each body is wired differently. I recently completed an online Nutrition course for school and one of the most important things it stressed in the chapter on dieting is that what works for some people, won’t necessarily work for someone else. This is true for a lot of things, including running. It doesn’t matter how fast or slow you go, how far you run or how often you get to it. You’re out there and you’re doing it when you can, at the pace you can. Each time I do a 5k with Matt, my dad, brother and our friend Sean, I’m the last one in. And the only other person who is a constant runner is Sean. Do I care that the others, who don’t run as often as I do, beat me? No. And you know why? Because we each do what we can, however fast we can. I also think my short legs could have something to do with that. 🙂
Don’t Skip Rest Days – I know, this is repetitive, but it’s definitely important. And honestly, sometimes I have a hard time letting myself rest. But just know that your body needs time to heal and recuperate after the strain you’ve been putting it through. You risk injuring yourself if you don’t and that will keep you out of the game for longer than a rest day!
Be Consistent – Rome wasn’t built in a day, and you won’t become a marathon runner after one outing. Be consistent and build up to where you want to be. When I began running, I did this short 1.67 mile loop from my doorstep, up the road, down and back to my doorstep. The beginning of my run is up a gradual incline and doesn’t flatten out until about a mile in. So when I first started, it killed me. I would go as far as I could, stop to walk, then start running again when I felt I could. After awhile, I would challenge myself to get to the top of that incline – and then I would stop. I would continue that until I felt I could go further, and further, until before I knew it – I was doing that 1.67 mile loop without stopping. And once I’d mastered that, I increased my distance and went through the same stop and go process until I was running 2.25 miles without stopping. Build up to it and be consistent. Stick with it – because you got this! And it will only get easier from where you were before.
Take Your Time – This kind of goes with being consistent, however I want to stress that your pace doesn’t matter. Go at a pace that is right for you. I average a pace of about 10-11 miles per hour typically. Sure, it’s a bit slow I guess, but it’s what works for me. I’m not going to strain myself, risk injury or pain in order to have a better average pace. If I were trying to place into something like the Boston Marathon, that would be a different story. But for someone who just wants to run – it’s no big deal. Do what you can. It’s not a race. Unless you want it to be.
Sometimes You Have Bad Days – Sometimes you decide to go out for a run and your legs start to hurt, or you get a side ache, or you just plain aren’t feeling it. It happens. Every day can’t be a good day. Sometimes you have those amazing runs that remind you why you love doing this. Other times, you suffer through it. And that sucks. But at the end of the day, at least you can say you did it. It wasn’t pretty, in fact it was probably downright ugly, but it’s better than sitting on the couch watching reruns. Stretch it out, drink some water and give yourself a break.
Cross Train – It’s important to keep other parts of your body strong and healthy as well. It helps to balance your muscle groups and reduces your chance of injury. I try to hit the gym in between running days. For awhile I would go for a run, then hit the gym the next day, go for a run, then hit the gym again. That’s where I was forgetting to rest! Although, you can have running rest days and hit the gym at the same time. Just be sure to train different muscle groups.
Have the Proper Gear – I bought myself a new pair of shoes strictly to wear to the gym about 2 1/2 years ago. Those were the same shoes I began running in and about the end of summer this past year, I started getting some good pain on the bottom of my foot whenever I ran and on occasion when I walked. I’m sure you can guess what that was from. So thanks to Tricia who had a great deal through Brooks, and Matt who bought them for me because I didn’t have the money, I got a new pair of running shoes and my feet felt better. The most important tool for running is your shoes. The rest of course you can have fun with, a nice pair of pants, a cute top, that stopwatch to help you track your time. But in the words of Lieutenant Dan “Take good care of your feet”.
I guess number two is pretty good advice also.
Remember, each body is different! And I am not in any way certified to give any sort of fitness advice so be sure to consult a professional before starting any sort of work out regime.
Keep on running Seattle!