If you’ve been around reading my blogs for a while, you know that about 18 months ago I decided to try running. I did it for a few reasons. One was peer pressure. A whole bunch of people in my church Bible study ran and were always talking about running, and I wanted to fit in. The second was to see if I could do it. I rarely back down from a challenge, and I made this one to myself. Another reason was I always looked at runners in awe and wanted to be one. I attempted several times over the years and failed, but his time I was determined to stick it out. Lastly, I just wanted to feel healthier! Not to lose weight (and I didn’t), but at 29 I knew my body sure wasn’t going to trend towards health naturally.
I am NOT an athlete. At all. Anyone who knew me prior to last year would never have call me one. The furthest I’d ever run was the mile for gym class, and that under great duress and not since high school. Honestly, I prefer a day on the sofa with a movie, a book, or my sewing machine.
Since April 2010 I’ve run ten races including a half marathon, and I’ve got another half marathon this weekend. I’m by no means a fast runner, but I’m doing it and challenging myself and… well… not completely hating it. Most times.
That’s why I say, in total seriousness, that if I can become a runner, anyone can!
I’ve looked at a lot of running web sites and they talk some about starting to run, but they’re not very detailed. Mainly just training plans. Those are great and have their place, but it’s not where I was starting from. So I’ve decided to fill this hole with some honest info and tips. Hang on to your socks, because here we go!
(Oh, but a disclaimer: I’m just a secretary who decided to try to run. I’m not a doctor or a pro athlete. You won’t get to the Olympics by doing what I did, and I can’t guarantee that you won’t get hurt. So please don’t hold me responsible if you don’t win a race, and trip and break your nose or something.)
Before You Run
This stuff is SUPER basic, but when I started running I found I would find any excuse to NOT run. Okay, sometimes I still use any excuse. By creating a kind of “checklist” for myself, I got rid of some of the annoyances.
Plan to run! Seriously, this is important. Tell yourself, “I’m going to go running tomorrow” instead of just throwing on your shoes and going for it on a whim. Write it on your calendar. Remind yourself regularly. “I’m going running tomorrow.” “I’m going to go running after work.” “I’m going to go running in two hours.” “Okay, when I get home, I’m going running.” For some reason, this helps get you mentally prepared for what you’re going to do. It also seems to help me with accountability to myself.
Water! Be hydrating a few hours before you go, if possible. But don’t chug two glasses right before you go as then you’ll have to… go.
Drugs! No, not steroids, you silly people. This may not be for everyone, but I found that taking an ibuprofen thirty minutes before running helped with some of the pain. Yeah, there will be some pain. Sorry, but that’s the truth.
Clothes! You sweat when you run, did you know that? I found that I can’t run with a jacket, even if it’s cold, because I get way too hot. Then I have to tie it around my waist and re-tie it every hundred yards. You’re not going to know for your first run, but figure out what works best for your body with regards to layers.
Shoes! You probably don’t want to run out and drop $100 on a good pair of running shoes on your first day, but obviously you don’t want to go running in Keds or Crocs. If you’re serious about wanting to learn to run, you’re going to have to break down eventually and get decent shoes. It took many months before I finally went to a store that did video gait analysis and whipped out my debit card to get good shoes, but oh my goodness was it worth it! Shin splits: gone in one day. No joke. I should have bought those shoes earlier.
Chapstick! You’ll be breathing hard. Through your mouth. Make things a bit less unpleasant for yourself by keeping those babies soft.
Take care of your hair! If it’s long, figure out what to do with it. Ponytail, headband, something. You don’t want to be annoyed by hair in the face.
Tissues! My nose loves to get in on the “running” action. Surely there must be some other people out there that get all snotty when they exercise. Tell me I’m not alone? Anyway, I always grab a tissue before heading out.
Sunscreen and sunglasses! If you’re running in the sun. Of course.
Stretch! My physical therapy friends have said that bounce-stretching is better before exercise and pull stretching is better afterwards when your muscles are warm. So lean into the stretch, but don’t stretch too hard or hold it too long.
Go! As in, get rid of that water you drank before. And anything else your body, ahem, needs to get rid of. It’s not one of the things those running site tell you on the front page, but running is a great laxative. I heard once that birds tend to poo right when they take off so they’re lighter when they fly. Think about it the same way with your body.
Okay! Ready to run? I could keep going, but there’s a lot more I can say. So come back next time to tell you about the first few times you start to run. Stay tuned!