As our newest Couch to 5k group moves into their second week, I thought I’d try to give a bit of insight into a few things I wish someone had told me about running before I started. I’ve been around the block a few times now and while I am always learning and developing, a few things have become constant.
Advice for New Runners
- Proper gear is the most important investment you can make. When I started running, I wore whatever tennis shoes I had, some yoga pants, cotton socks and cotton T-shirts. I was uncomfortable, had blisters, there was chafing, and my feet always hurt because I was in the wrong shoes. Get yourself fitted for actual running shoes at a real running store (NOT a big-box “athletics” store or Walmart) and buy some technical gear. Trust me on this one. You may pass out from the sticker shock, but you will be much more likely to stick with your running goals if you are a comfortable and happy runner. Running gear also doesn’t need to break the bank. While I would never in a billion years consider buy running shoes at Walmart or Target, their running clothes are pretty awesome and don’t cost a fortune. Even shoes can be found for less once you get properly fitted. Search the web for the best prices and don’t be afraid to stock up when you find your shoes on sale.
- It will hurt and you need to suck it up, cupcake. Now, I’m not referring to any “hurt” that is a true injury – those should not be ignored, but the aches in your legs, sore muscles, feeling out of breath, stuff like that? Of course you are going to be sore and winded when you are using your body in a new way. Suck it up and keep going. Honestly, the best way to treat sore muscles is to go out and use them again. The first few minutes may really suck, but after you warm up you will feel much better. Like our friends at Nike say, “Just Do It”!
- Running in the dark won’t kill you. It took me YEARS before I was brave enough to run when the sun wasn’t up. Now I actually enjoy it. I take all the usual precautions (and you should too) – head lamp, reflective vest, no headphones or only one earbud in, stay in populated areas, street lamps, etc. By running in the dark you can avoid some of the heat of the day in the summer and get your workout done before the craziness of the day begins. Conversely, maybe your best time to go run is at night after the kids have gone to bed. Whatever. It might work for you so don’t automatically assume you can only run in the daytime.
- Similar to running at night, running in bad weather will also not kill you. Quite the opposite, in fact. Running in rain and snow will make you feel like a total bad@$$ and give you mad street cred. Just be smart – don’t go out if you may be struck by lightning or the roads are covered in ice. But if you can get out safely, by all means give it a try. You may find you really like it. Kind of back to the first point with this one, too. Proper gear will make bad weather much more bearable. Talk to your local running store for suggestions about gear that will work best for where you live.
- It’s ok to walk. This one has taken me many years to acknowledge. Would I love to be one of those runners who can go out every single time and knock out sub-9 minute miles for hours on end effortlessly? Of course I would. But just because there are days (many of them lately) where I struggle to run for 5 minutes doesn’t make me any less of a runner. Some days you just might not be feeling it. For others, using intervals is the best approach for them. With c25k, the goal is definitely to “run” a 5k without stopping, but don’t beat yourself up if you need walk breaks from time to time.
- Pace really doesn’t matter. Leave the watch at home from time to time. Try not to compare yourself to your friends. We all are at different fitness and ability levels. Just get out there and do your thing. If you are moving at a speed faster than walking, you are a runner. End of story.
What is something you wish someone had told you before you started running?
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Bari is an avid runner and sometime triathlete, learning the importance of training smart but also having fun. She loves to share a good beer with friends and has been known to host virtual toasts on Twitter. When she isn’t running, biking, swimming, or trying to lift heavy things, she’s playing on her phone or trying to figure out how to pay for college for her twins who graduate in 2015. Bari lives in West Michigan and loves to encourage new runners and triathletes to reach their goals.