9.10.2019

10 Tips for New Runners

Happy Tuesday friends!

This post is long overdue, as I had meant to post it in January with New Year's resolutions. That said, today marks 1 year since my running journey began and I can't think of a better time to share than September when fall and cooler weather is right around the corner!

Prior to last September, I always called myself a seasonal runner. I'd find myself hitting the pavement each fall when cool weather would creep in and the leaves would start changing. As soon as winter came, the leaves fell from the trees, and temperatures dropped below about 50° my runs would come to a halt until the first warm weather of spring would creep in and the leaves would begin emerging once again. Last year, for reasons still unbeknownst to me, that changed, though. I found myself craving my runs and discovered that cold weather runs are by far my favorite. After running the Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving, I made a goal to complete a 10 miler by the New Year. Since then, I've run the Shamrock Half Marathon and the Monument Avenue 10k. I've run each and every month - some months more than others - and have logged a total 327 miles.


I've shared snippets along the way on Instagram, as a way to keep myself accountable, and have gotten many requests from you to share my tips. Particularly tips to take those first steps, so am compiling my top 10 here today!

ONE
JUST GO!
My number one tip is to just go! My biggest running cheerleader is a best friend who's both a physical therapist and marathon runner. She always says "The first mile is a liar" insinuating that it's harder than the rest. Set your own pace and set small goals and milestones to celebrate along the way.

TWO
COMMIT TO A ROUTINE
I'll be the first to admit that the last couple of months I've failed at this one. Between sickness, work, and heat, making running a routine has been tough. That said, when you're just getting started a routine is key. Commit to running at least 2-3 times per week, with recovery days in between. You'll be amazed at how quickly you build endurance and stamina as you make running a habit. 

THREE
DON'T BE AFRAID TO WALK
As I mentioned above, set your own pace at the beginning. To expand on that, don't be afraid to stop and walk if you need. Your first goal may be to work up to a mile without stopping, but if the first few runs you have to stop at half a mile, do it! It's amazing what just a short 30 seconds, 1 minute, or 1 block walking break will do to reenergize you. If giving yourself a walking break or two means you can run 3 miles instead of 2, it's well worth it! 

FOUR
PINPOINT YOUR "EASY RUN"
Once you've been running a few weeks, pinpoint what feels like an easy distance to run (this can, should, and will change as you run more). Use this "easy run" to negotiate with yourself. For me that's 3 miles. On days that I'm really not feeling motivated, I use my easy run as a negotiation. I tell myself "I'll just run an easy 3 miles." More often than not once I get started, I get in a groove and run 4, 5, or even 6 miles...again, the first steps are the hardest, so bargain with yourself if you need.

FIVE
MEASURE YOUR RUNS IN HALF MILE INCREMENTS
This tip stems from my Type A tendencies, but I do think makes a difference when you're working to increase your distance. I have my running app (I use Map My Run) set to alert me at half mile intervals. I always stop on the mile or half mile for my cool-down. Once you've worked your way up to running 2 or 3 miles with ease, adding a half mile, which is about 5 minutes, doesn't seem so tough. Sometimes you'll even get to that half mile point and realize you've got an extra 5 minutes in you and can push another half mile. Once you get to running even longer distances, it can become a mind game and I even will equate half miles to songs. 10 minutes more is about 2 songs (give or take), so I'll tell myself "You can run for just 2 more songs!" if I've got a mile left.

SIX
REMEMBER EVERY RUN IS DIFFERENT
Keep in mind that every run is different. I've worked myself up to a "normal" run being around 5 miles, and that even feels easy sometimes. There are days, however (if it's really hot, or, I ate a big lunch, for example) when just 3 miles can be brutal. I never beat myself up for those runs, though, and always tell myself that running slow or a short distance is better than stopping or skipping the run altogether.

SEVEN
LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION
For me, scenery is huge! I beeline it out of my neighborhood as soon as I can making my way to Grove Avenue, where I can loop in and out of all of my favorite Richmond neighborhoods admiring the pretty houses. Being surrounded with beauty, as well as other people and activity, makes my runs so much more enjoyable. When I get in a rut, I'll also switch up my route slightly, or run down a street I've never run before to keep things fresh. Similarly, whenever I'm out of town and run in a new place, I'm amazed at how far I can go, because the excitement of exploring a new place is a distraction from fatigue.

EIGHT
SAFETY FIRST
I prefer to run outside, which does bring risks. Bryce says he literally worries about me the entire time I am gone on runs. First things first, put your phone away! I've fallen twice during runs: Once in March 2018 and once last September. During the first fall, I skinned my knee really badly and also scraped my hands. During the second, I crushed my phone and had Millie with me. Both times I was looking at my phone to adjust something on my running app. After the second tumble, I immediately ordered this running belt. It's essentially a fanny pack, and not chic, but it keeps me hands free and is also waterproof! Buying shoes at a running shop recommended for your feet and gait, giving yourself recovery days, stretching and strength training will all help avoid injury. Don't run at night, but do purchase clip on lights and reflective gear for dusk runs, or times you may get accidentally caught in the dark. Wear sunscreen, especially on your face and chest!

NINE
SIGN UP FOR A RACE
Never underestimate the power of a race to hold you accountable. As mentioned above, in my Turkey Trot 10k training last fall, I loved that I had caught what I called the running bug. I was so nervous I'd give up my runs over the cold winter, so signed up for the Shamrock Half Marathon on St. Patrick's Day, because I knew it would force me to stick with it through the winter. I'm so glad I did, because winter runs became my very favorite. Not to mention, there's no feeling quite like crossing the finish line...especially when it's for a distance you never thought possible!

TEN
NEVER GIVE UP
If you're interested in running, just keep at it - never give up! As I shared, I was a seasonal runner for years, and every time I would start it was with the intention of going beyond the season. Until last fall, though, it just never stuck. I still am not sure what it is that hooked me last year, but once I was hooked, I decided to embrace it! When life happens and you fall out of the habit, do give yourself grace. For example, I only ran one time in May, then the next month in June, I ran more times than any other month during this year of running. August was a really demanding month, and likewise, I only ran once. This September is a new start, though! Never give up!


And on that note, I need to figure out my next race! My birthday falls on the Turkey Trot (also Thanksgiving) this year, but I'm not sure yet if we'll be spending Thanksgiving in town or the country this year. I'm been considering signing up for the Richmond Half Marathon, also in November, but am still working through some issues where my left hamstring meets my IT band, so am not sure 13.1 miles is the smartest, or safest (see Tip #8 above) choice at this point. Regardless, though, I know I'm not giving up!

Are you a runner?

If so, what are your tips for new runners?

Have a great day!

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