If you had asked me when I was younger if I’d ever become a runner, I would have said –
When I thought of running, I thought of repetitive laps on the track or around the gym, with my high school gym teacher yelling at me to “Pick up the pace!” Sweat rolling into my eyes, stitch in my side, gasping for breath… yup, there was no way I’d ever be a “runner.”
I was wrong.
Little did I know that running for yourself is SOOOOOO much better than running because you’re being told to!
Running becomes “Me Time.” This is time when I don’t have to think about work or family or bills – I just plug my headphones in, turn on some good tunes and let the methodical feel of my feet hitting pavement lull me into relaxation. Plus, it’s something I can do anywhere. No special equipment. No gym needed.
I’ll admit, though, I made some mistakes when I first started out. Mistakes I don’t want you to make, so if you’ve thought about giving running a try, (despite sadistic gym teachers trying to take the joy out of running) give these tips a read!
- It’s All About the Shoes – My biggest mistake when I first started running was I didn’t even think about my shoes. I started out wearing my old pair of sneakers that I had bought because they were cute. The result? Shin splints. Ouch! I actually went to my doctor, thinking there was something really wrong with me. Luckily, he’s a runner and immediately spotted my problem, when I told him about the shoes I was wearing. A new pair of running shoes and my shin splints went away! You don’t have to buy the most expensive pair, but you want a pair that fits correctly, has good support and are designed for running.
- Don’t Forget the Socks – Another big mistake I made early on was just wearing my normal socks. The result? Blisters. Again, ouch! Buy a good pair of running socks – I prefer Nike Dri-Fit – and you won’t have to worry about blisters. Cotton socks hold moisture, which can increase friction and lead to blistering. Good running socks can be pricey (for socks). For this reason, I only wear them when I run (taking them off the moment I get done), and they last a really long time.
- Get a Good Running Schedule – If the only running you’ve done lately is running to the store for a quart of ice cream, a running schedule, like a “couch to 5k” program is awesome! (Even if you never want to run a 5K.) There are lots out there and the one I started with was a Podcast done by the NHS. The one thing they have in common is they start you off slowly – mostly walking, with brief intervals (just a few seconds) of running. Having a schedule like this makes sure you don’t overdo it and hurt yourself.
- Put Running on Your Schedule – If you’re like me, you get so busy that sometimes the day just gets away from you. If you don’t put running on your schedule and make time for it, you won’t do it. Be sure to schedule your run time for what works for you. For some people, getting up 30 minutes early to get a short run in is a great way to start the day. For me, I’m a late afternoon runner. Others like to go after work. Whatever works for you and your schedule is great! The most important thing is to block off that small piece of your day for yourself, so you can make sure it’s a priority.
- Don’t Forget to Stretch (Before & After) – Stretching only takes a couple minutes before and after your run, but it can make a whole world of difference in how you feel. Plus, you’ll reduce the chance of injury if you’re stretched before you head out.
- Bananas are Awesome! – When you get done with a great run, treat yourself to a glass of water and a banana. Bananas being high in potassium will help prevent any muscle cramping, plus give you a little natural and healthy carb boost.
- Be Kind to Yourself – When I started running, I’ll be honest, I didn’t tell people I was a “runner.” I thought, “I’m really not a runner; I’m more of a slow jogger.” But, that really wasn’t fair to me. It doesn’t matter how slow you are – you are a runner! Be proud of it! Be proud of yourself! Even if you can only run for a few seconds now, you are doing more than so many others. More importantly, you’re doing something to better yourself! And, that’s wonderful!!
NOTE: As with any exercise program, be sure to talk with your doctor before you start exercising. They will make sure you’re healthy enough to begin your program and can give you more information if there are modifications you need to make.
For our readers who have been running for awhile, what beginning running tips do you wish you knew when you started?
Leave them in the comments below!