Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Advice for new runners : What I wish I had known 6 years ago

I started running, really running, in 2010. Before that, running was always the torture mechanism used by rowing coaches to "make us better". I had dealt with a stress fracture in my left foot in 2009, one that came about when I was forced to run, and went from 0 miles to all the miles in a matter of a week or so.

So what got me started in 2010? I left the rowing team. I left my Division 1 scholarship, I left the thing that had brought me to Pittsburgh & the one thing I had been sure about when I picked my college. It wasn't right for me anymore. But, I couldn't go from 4AM wakeup calls & regattas on the weekends to sitting on my couch watching Teen Mom  TV with my roommates (don't judge me). I needed something. I picked the "easiest" sport I could think of. The one for which I already had the equipment. The one that didn't require joining a team, the one sport that I could do literally anywhere. I started running.

I've been running now for 6 years. 3 marathons. 7, soon to be 8 half marathons, one 10K, 2 x 5Ks, 2 x Ragnar Relays and more training miles than I could ever tally. I've run slow, I've run fast, I've run because I was mad & I've run because I was happy. 

6 years & countless miles have taught me a few things along the way. I've also learned that no matter how long I've been running, there will always be more to learn. So, new runners, here are my words of wisdom for you. The things I wish someone had grabbed me & told me when I started running.

Linking up with Marcia x Patty x Erika for Tuesdays on the run to share.

1. There's no official pace or distance you need to be a "real runner"
A mile is a mile is a mile. Doesn't matter how long it takes you to run it. Doesn't matter if you run 1 mile or 10 miles. You are still a runner! And you are a REAL RUNNER. I have been the one to discount myself before, "Oh, I only ran 6 miles this morning", but once, I heard another runner doing it & I realized how it sounded. Like I thought I wasn't good enough. But I am. How many people sit on their couch, never taking a step, never even trying. You are,  you did. So you are a runner.

2. Go get a really good sports bra, now. Be prepared to drop $50
Seriously. My A-Cup ladies can probably get away with a mediocre Target sports bra. No one else can. Without a good sports bra boobs will just be flying everywhere. Now do that for 5, 10 or 15 miles. They will hurt. Ain't nobody got time for that.

3. Then go get fitted for running shoes. Be prepared to drop $100+
Yes, shoes are expensive. But if you would drop 100+ on a pair of heels why would you second guess doing it on a pair of running shoes. Everyone runs different. Go find someone knowledgeable at a running store who can watch you run & determine what type of shoe you need. Sorry, the high school kid at Dick's probably does not know if you need a neutral shoe or not by looking at you. Go local, go to a running store.

4. You don't have to race to be a runner
I love to run races. It keeps me motivated. But if you don't like them, then don't run them. You're still a runner. What makes me a runner isn't the 5K or the half marathon I complete a few times a year, it's all the miles I put in leading up to those races.

5. Stretching is mandatory
I spent the first 5 years of my running career not stretching. What a terrible mistake. Don't be like me. Stretch, yoga, foam roll, repeat.

6. You don't need anything fancy
Lulu is nice & all, but my running shorts from TJ Maxx work just fine too. You don't have to drop big bucks, except on a sports bra & shoes, to be a runner. While things like wireless headphones & GPS watches are nice, they're not necessities. Socks, shirt, shorts, shoes, bra. 5 things you need to go running. FIVE.

7. Get outside
I spent months running on the treadmill because I didn't want to get lost, or get too far from home & be tired. Or whatever my excuse was. Treadmills suck. They're a great tool when you NEED them. But I prefer to run outside. If I get lost, oh well, I'll retrace my steps. If I get tired, I'll stop & take a break, or start walking. I get to explore places I never knew existed in my own city & on my own two feet. It really is a great feeling.

What advice do you have for new runners?
How long have you been running?
If you are a racer, what's your favorite distance to race?


  1. Early on I dabbled with "non-running" shoes and yes, you need to get good, "real" ones. So worth it. Not counting what I did in school, I've been a runner for 18+ of my adult years. Thanks for linking up.

  2. I've been running on and off for 10 years, but only got serious about running last year. Thank god for running blogs because I have learned so much in such a short time!

  3. These are great tips! I'd add on to the bra pointer about being ready to replace the sports bras as needed. I had a couple painful runs when I realized that it was time for replacements. If I'm running somewhere new where I'm worried about getting lost, I'll also use an app like runkeeper that traces your route on a map so I can follow it back to the beginning. I've only had to do it a couple times but I'm sure glad I had it those times!

  4. When I first started running I wore those cheap champion sports bras with no support. Good ones are expensive, but like you said worth the money.-L

  5. I am one of those A Cup ladies who can get away with a Target sports bra ;-). Hey, it's the one time in life when being "flat chested" actually works in my favor!

    I think the biggest piece of advice I would give to a new runner, because I wish someone had told me (well, someone probably did tell me, I just didn't listen): take a long-term view. The joy of running is that for many of us, it is truly a lifelong sport. Take care of yourself now so that you can still run in 10, 20, 50 years. You have so many more years to run - do you really want to peak in your first 2? Just relax and take your time with your goals. You don't need to have everything right now. You'll get there eventually. The Boston Marathon isn't going anywhere anytime soon and taking longer than expected to get that half marathon PR just makes it all the sweeter.

  6. I still have a hard time calling myself a 'runner' - even though I'm getting ready to do my 7th half marathon. Isn't that dumb.

  7. I went through the stage of not wanting to call myself a runner. I thought I had to be fast or far. I knew I wouldn't ever be fast so I went for the "far" part. Far for me was 5 miles at first.
    We all start somewhere, and we all relate to when we started. :)

  8. and to add to #3, once you find that magical pair of running shoes, scour the web for sales and stock up!

  9. #1 and #2 are on point!! The other day I saw a busty runner with her stuff bouncing all over the place, and I couldn't help to think "That is going to hurt a lot later! Great list and great advice!

  10. These are all awesome tips! I started running consistently after graduating college in May 2014. I honestly was just so bored after work each night and wanted something to do. It also was a great way for me to set goals for myself after having so many academic and extra curricular goals in school for as long as I can remember.

    My favorite distance is probably the 4-5 mile/8k distance. I don't know why but I like the length of it a lot for racing!

  11. Oh, I need all the fancy things! Seriously, my advice to new runner me would be that the right gear would make me more comfortable. I ran in long black crops through two hot summers and was miserable because I had no idea there was lighter weight fabric in shorter crops, or that a running skirt was a thing, or that shorts didn't have to be short shorts!

  12. Love all of these - especially #1!

  13. I loveeee these tips! These are the kind of things every runner needs to remember - whether they're been running for 50 seconds or 50 years!

  14. Yes - love that you only need 5 things. (We won't talk about how many things I have in my closet, but that's a whole other can of worms.)

  15. yeahh i am a bit bigger than an a cup, but not by much, so i can totally get by with the cheapie sports bras from target - well, actually i got mine from tj maxx for like $5 but they are champion which is at target too. it is the only time i've been thankful for small boobs ;) but i do agree on the shoes! i've been running for 5 or 6 years i think, and it took me a looooong time to feel like a 'real' runner, as silly as that sounds, but you're right. there is no time, distance or race requirement. you run, you're a runner.


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