Advice? From moi? On running? Pfffft – I’m no expert!
Sure, I help coach a run clinic, but I’m just a sidekick to a former varsity track athlete. The Pinky to her Brain, if you will.
See, I didn’t know about things like the Couch to 5km program or Running Room learn to run or 5km clinics when I started running. I literally sat down on New Year’s day, wrote out a goal to run a 5km that June and didn’t darken the doorway of a gym until March of that year.
In fact, I didn’t even try running outside until two days before the race.
But, what I did do? I slowly and surely got my ass on a treadmill five days a week. I went from running for two minutes at a time at maybe 4.5mph and slowly increased intervals and speeds until I was running a full 30 minutes at 6mph. Was it the smartest thing? Probably not. Did I do this overnight? Hells no! It took time. It took dedication. It took sweat. It took getting up at 5:30 a.m. every morning and going to bed at 11 p.m. every night. It took changing my diet, my wardrobe, my routine and my outlook on life.
A lot about me changed, both outwardly and on the inside.
And that June, I ran my first 5km in just under 35 minutes.
It was an ugly race that I wasn’t exactly proud of for a lot of reasons, but it set into motion a series of events that has brought me here today. It also made me the person I am today. I finished that race for the fourth time on the weekend, this time under 30 minutes :)
All it takes is putting one foot in front of the other.
So what do I think YOU should do? What advice do I have to give?
- Find a program: You need a schedule. Whether you choose do go it alone, with a group or with a loved one or a friend, you need some sort of plan of attack. There is a PLETHORA of information online for learn to run programs and run shops ALL OVER THE WORLD that will gladly turn over programs in return for your hard earned money. And iTunes can hook you up with podcasts to get you through if you feel like going it alone but still want a virtual coach.
- Find the right shoes: Everyone thinks that picking a shoe off of the wall at their local sporting good store is sufficient, but when their knees are suddenly screaming at them a few weeks later and they wonder why…sigh. It’s better to go into your local running shop, talk to their staff, get fitted for the RIGHT shoes and then go out and run your little heart out. You’ll save yourself a lot of heart ache and pain in the long run. And your knees will love ya.
- Find a goal: Honestly, you need something to TIE you to the program. Are you doing it for health? For a race? To lose weight? For a time? What is the end result? You need to have a tangible result in the end because otherwise what are you aiming for? Just to go out and make it a block, and then another and another? Then what? Make it measureable, whether it be time or distance. Make it count. Track your progress each and every step of the way but have an end point in your training. Having a finish line to cross sometimes helps. And the pictures can be pretty
- Find your rhythm: It’s HARD at first. You’ll want to go fast but you’ll need to go slow. Your breathing will be all over the place and you’ll want to walk. Try to walk:run in intervals and slowly increase them as you become more comfortable. Most programs will outline them for you. Find a natural rhythm with your breathing as well. I like to count out three slow breaths in beat with my feet striking the pavement, but find what WORKS FOR YOU (keep in mind I have asthma and have trouble breathing on a good day).
- Find a passion: I’m not saying you have to eat, breathe and sleep the sport. You don’t have to bore your friends with useless running trivia and facts, nor do you have to be kitted out with the latest gadgets and make technical fabrics a staple in your every day wardrobe, but learn to love it (something I struggle with EVERY FRACKIN’ DAY), soak up as much there is to learn about the sport to get better at it and stay focused to stay on track.
- Find a balance: This comes into play in a lot of areas, from fitting running into your schedule to trying not to eat everything in sight. Adding things to your routine kind of upsets the apple cart, if you will. Make the time, even if it’s 30 minutes to get it in, get it done and move on, but also recognize that adding in that 30 minutes doesn’t give you a free pass to do whatever the hell you want, especially when it comes to food. More good does not equal more bad. I still work on this one. Day. After. Day. After. Day.
- Find friends: I get that you might want to do this on your own and that’s fine. I am probably one of THE most anti-social people IN THIS WORLD, so I feel ya on this, but seriously, if you can, get thee to a run club and make some friends. You are missing out on an amazing opportunity if you don’t. TRUST.
- Find something else: YOU CAN’T JUST RUN. It is HELLA BORING. That’s right – I said it. Weight train, swim, bike, kick-box, bootcamp, go to yoga, step class – SOMETHING! Cross training will make you a better and happier runner and probably reduce the frequency of injuries.
- Find yourself: You’re alone with your thoughts for at least 30 minutes on any given run. Use the time wisely. It’s a great opportunity to grow…and shrink :)
I could go on about food and weather, clothes and water, races and bathroom practices, but I’ll spare you. There are so many intricacies that can bog you down.
Really, the best advice I ever find on running comes from the penguin, John Bingham. He sums it up pretty nicely.
The miracle isn't that I finished. The miracle is that I had the courage to start.
All it takes is the get up and go. So, find the courage.
The rest sorts itself out if you just keep putting one foot in front of the other.
But you…reading this…over there – I know A BUNCH of YOU are runners. Give me your best shot. What are the top five things YOU would tell someone brand new to the sport to do, to try, to get, to stay away from? What are your little nuggets of advice?
Share the wealth :)