Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Ten Tips for New Runners (From a New Runner)

A few months ago, if you’d told me I’d be a runner, I’d have laughed in your face. Yes, that would have been rude, but I wouldn’t have been able to stop myself. Never would I have ever dreamed that I’d grow to love running.

People often ask me how I got started. It really wasn’t on purpose. I’d thought about running a few times. When I first began losing weight, I talked to my husband about how The Biggest Loser contestants always run a marathon at the end of the season and how maybe that should be my way of celebrating reaching my weight-loss goals.

I soon discarded that idea, but, several months later, I found myself walking on the treadmill and the thought crossed my mind that it wouldn’t take much more effort to start running and – wow! – what a great calorie burn that would be. 

Soon after, I became a runner.

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So, from one newbie to another, I wanted to share the tips that worked for me. Please keep in mind that these are just tips from my personal experience. I’m far from an expert and you should consult your doctor if you have any pains or problems associated with running.

1.  Start slowly. When I started running, my initial goal was to run for one minute and walk for 2 or 3. I seriously thought I was going to die during that one minute the first few times I ran. My legs were shaking, my lungs were burning, and I was watching the timer on the treadmill like it was my lifeline. I was doing one minute and not a second longer.

2.  Increase gradually. Once I got to the point that I didn’t feel like I would die after one minute, I went to 2 minutes.  Sometimes, at first, I didn’t make it the whole 2 minutes, but I kept working toward it.

My goal from that point became 2 minutes running, 1 minute walking, gradually building to 3:1, then, 4:1.  Once I got to the point where I could run 4 minutes without stopping, I changed to distance goals – first running 0.25 mile without stopping, then, 0.5 mile, then, 1 mile and so on.  Now, I can run 3.5 miles (a little longer than 5K distance) without stopping.

3.  Find a running buddy. The encouragement of my running buddy has been invaluable. It was so nice to hear someone who had actually run a 5K say, “I remember when I felt like I was going to die running 90 seconds.”

Knowing that someone my age had gone through – and survived – the same things I was going through and who now loves running made it all seem possible. She celebrated every tiny victory with me – going from 2 minutes running to 3, being able to run a quarter of a mile. She passed along nuggets of wisdom and words of encouragement that she had picked up along the way.

My favorite little nugget from my running buddy is one that someone else passed on to her.  It’s my new mantra, “It doesn’t matter how fast, how far, or how long, if you run, you are a runner.”

Give Me Water!

4.  Don’t give up. I distinctly remember posting on Facebook to my running buddy a few weeks into my attempt to become a runner that I was thinking that maybe I just wasn’t cut out to be a runner. I’d given it a go, but it was hard and I wasn’t really making progress and maybe I should just stick to walking.

Both she and a runner friend of hers replied that they’d both felt that way when they started.  As a matter of fact, I think her friend actually said something along the lines of, “We’ve all felt that way in the beginning. Don’t give up.”

I’m so glad they told me that and that I listened because it wasn’t too long after that comment that I really started to notice an improvement. It just takes your body awhile to get acclimated to the new demands you’re placing on it. It may very well be that your break-though is just on the other side of that desire to throw in the towel.

5.  Invest in good shoes. Oh, my goodness. I can’t even begin to tell you the difference a good pair of running shoes have made in my running and the pain I was having in my knees and feet. I wouldn’t have believed it if I hadn’t experienced it for myself.

I highly recommend that you visit your local running store and have them suggest shoes for you. Yes, a specialty store is rather pricey, but folks who have a passion for running know their stuff when it comes to shoes. It may be that you take the information you learn there and shop for more affordable shoes, but you’ll shop armed with information.

For the record, I’m all about supporting the smaller “mom and pop” type stores when you can. Most of them are in business because of their passion for their product. The next pair of running shoes I buy will most likely come from my local running store, even though I couldn’t convince Brian to invest in my first pair of running shoes from there. I can’t say as I blame him. I have something of a reputation for getting really excited about something, then, dumping it after awhile.

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6.  Work on endurance before speed. In addition to starting with a short amount of time, I literally started very slowly. I only ran 4 mph on my treadmill to start out. If you’re running outside, that would be just a very slow jog – very slow as in, somebody powerwalking could probably keep up with you.

My thought was that I wanted to be able to finish a 5K, not win it. Eventually, I increased my speed to 4.5.  Then, I stayed at 4.8 for a long time before I was able to move to 5.  Now, I can do 5.5 for awhile.  I’m working on getting to a 30:00 5K time (which means, basically, a 10-minute mile).

7.  Educate yourself. Running seems like such a simple thing – and really it is – but there’s a lot to learn about proper form, running jargon, pace, and training (it’s not all just about going out and running your intended racing distance every day).  My absolute new favorite magazine is Runner’s World.  There’s stuff for everyone from new, recreational runners to Boston Marathon and ultra-marathon runners.  They’ve even got a blog on their website just for new runners, as well as a monthly column in the print magazine.

There are plenty of good books out there about running, too.  I’m just kind of a “take it in little digestible bites” kind of girl, so I love magazines and websites dedicated to running.

8.  Invest in a good bra. Okay, guys, you can obviously ignore this one, but I recently read a great post on 100 Beginner Running Tips. My favorite one was just for the ladies:

Ladies, do not skimp on a bra. Even if it costs more than your shoes it’s still a bargain.”

A good running bra can be expensive, but it is so worth it, especially for those of us who are a little, ahem, well-endowed. I found one that I love on Amazon…and it didn’t cost more than my shoes. I’ve already got another one sitting in my shopping cart ready to order.

Tired But Proud

9.  Sign up for a 5K. Just do it! Once you’ve gotten to the point where you can run a mile or so without stopping, sign up for a 5K. Pre-register and pay for it so you don’t talk yourself out of it before race day.

My two biggest fears when I ran my first 5K were that I wouldn’t be able to finish and that I’d finish last.  Neither came to fruition. I didn’t run the whole race, but I did run almost the whole first half. I didn’t finish last, either. There were plenty of people who crossed the finish line after me. I ran a pretty respectable time and finished in about the middle of the pack.

The most important thing, though, was the feeling of accomplishment. This girl who, 15 months ago was morbidly obese, ran a 5K! You’ll find that the feeling of accomplishment is very addictive. I’ve already run three 5Ks now.

10. Set up a running playlist on your MP3 player. It’s amazing to me that impact that music can have on my running. I find myself subconsciously matching my pace to the beat of the music. I’ve tried to look up songs by beats per minute (bpm), but I haven’t had much luck with that. I just added songs that make me feel like dancing or running.

Two of my friends swear by ‘80’s music. My favorites are rather eclectic but include songs such as:

OMG – Usher (I love that he says “gosh.”)

All-Star – Smashmouth (one of my favorites!)

Single Ladies – Beyonce

Move Along – All-American Rejects (I try to time this one to play when I’m nearing the end of the third mile of a 5K; it inspires me to finish when I’m getting tired.)

Uprising – Muse

I hope these tips inspire you to give running a try. I never, ever dreamed I’d be a runner, but these days I feel like I need to run almost as much as I need to breathe.

No matter how fast, how far, or how long, if you run, you are a runner.”

This post is linked to Top Ten Tuesday and Works for Me Wednesday.

17 comments:

  1. What a great post. I have been thinking of getting back into running, I ran track & cross country in high school and was in shape, thin, and had high energy.

    Regarding the shoe cost (and bra) just think of them as equipment in an otherwise low cost sport. That helps justify the expense.

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  2. Kris, I LOVE this post!! And the photos too :) I am just starting my 2nd week of Couch to 5K and I know I'm going to come back to this post many many times. I just bought a cheapie sports bra from Walmart, and it has made a huge difference from week 1 to 2. I bookmarked the one you like and I will definitely be investing in it in a few weeks.

    I'm so glad you shared you wanted to quit, because I can easily see myself reaching that point. And I will point my son to the "endurance" part as he kept telling me "Faster faster, I can walk faster than you jog" - I not so politlely told him "I'm conditioning my heart, not winning a race!" LOL

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  3. I, too, cannot imagine myself as a runner, a dedicated walker, yes, but not a runner. But it is something that always picks my interest. Your post ia very encouraging and I plan on bookmarking it in case I do decide to try it. Very inspiring! Thanks!

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  4. Great post! Special thanks for the link to the good bra! I've been looking for a good one for exercise

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  5. I'm a relatively new runner, and I really appreciate the encouragement! I bought new (really expensive) shoes a few weeks ago and they just didn't work. So today I took them back and found some that are awesome. The running store I bought from has treadmills in the store; I thought it was awesome to be able to actually try them out in the store like that. My new ones make me feel like I'm not even wearing them!

    And I agree 100% about the running bra. If you're worried about giving yourself a black eye, you can't focus on the running! Haha!

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  6. So glad to have found this list on the Top Ten Tuesday! I've been considering starting running again as a way to get rid of the jelly-belly from babies and C sections - nothing else seems to be working. I too ran in high school, but that was a long time ago, so I consider myself a newbie. Last pregnancy was Dr and hospital bed rest, so I am very much out of shape. But the alternating running with walking at first is a great idea! I don't think I would get as discouraged if I still was at least doing the powerwalk. Something is better than nothing, and since Spring is here, fresh air can never hurt!

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  7. Thanks for this! I just signed up for my first 5k and I definitely need a better bra! I love reading stuff like this, it is so encouraging to keep going!

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  8. I am a C25K dropout, but I run everyday to stop my two year old from wreaking havoc. So, I guess I am a runner. ;)

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  9. Thank you for these tips. I'm a treadmill walker (and trail walker when the weather is nice), and I have been trying to move to running for some portions.

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  10. This is such an inspiring post! I used to run before babies came along (and before I moved to mountain lion country...too scary!), and I so agree with your tips! Especially the endurance over speed one. It is so nice to hear this tips from someone who is just getting started - I bet you will inspire so many people to give it a try!
    I found you through WFMW, by the way.
    http://mindofthemother.blogspot.com/

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  11. I AM registered for a 5k in 3 weeks ... and I am still talking myself out of it!! I seem to have trouble with my hip every time I run with hills and it is SO painful and frustrating. But like you I never EVER EVER would have thought I could be a runner at all. I wouldn't say I am a runner ... but I am trying. 

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  12. Good for you, Jessie! Go for it! I bet you'll be surprised at how well you do. Even if you end up walking part of the race, you'll have such an incredible feeling of accomplishment when you're done.

    ~Kris

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  13. givinguponperfectMay 21, 2011 at 12:22 AM

    Thank you. I'm registered for a 5K in June, but I'm in no way prepared. Running is SO HARD! I appreciate this encouragement more than you can know.

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  14. I'm so glad I could encourage you! Good luck on your 5K!

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  15. Love it!  I've been thinking about starting up running, I have a couple friends who love it and swear I will too, but I just can't see myself doing it.  After reading your blog, I think I might be able to give it a go.  Thanks for your inspiration!!!

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  16. this was your running post that got me really excited about keeping up with running. and my first 5K was this past weekend!  i LOVED it. i had a 4.1 mile trail run this past summer that i already blogged about that wasn't very fun, but this was an official 5K and i'm addicted once again. now i can't wait to train for a 10K and i have friends trying to talk me into a half! YIKES!  any way...thanks again for your inspiration!  i'm loving my new running life!
    ~liz@smithical http://www.smithical.com/2011/09/my-husband-is-a-rockstar/

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  17. That is awesome, Liz! I'm so glad that you enjoyed it. I'm training for my first half in November. I'm excited about it. The only think I don't like is trying to find time for the long-runs. I'm ready for the half to be over so I can get back to just running when and how long I want to run -- but I won't say that I won't do one again. ;-) I'll definitely do more 10Ks and wouldn't mind trying a 15. It's very addictive, isn't it?

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