I just have one thing to say about running… it is HARD. Ok, I have a lot more to say than just one thing. But I thought I would start with that. I realized after the Blue Ridge Burn trail race on Saturday that running a race isn’t as super simple as it used to seem to me… it’s pretty tough! Now I know why some people are intimidated by becoming “a runner.”
As I said, this was my first race in a long time and I haven’t been running very much at all lately, just CrossFitting. I was excited to get out there on Saturday, but nervous for how it would go. It felt weird to not be just running shorter sprints like we tend to do in CrossFit – I was certainly tired partway into the 3.1 mile race. However, I definitely believe that my CrossFit history helped me so much, especially with the hills – my muscles helped me up!
The first bit was fine, just a short jog on the roads, but then the hills hit! It was hilly and it was hard, but I had SO much fun. I loved running on trails – I could definitely tell afterwards that I hadn’t been pounding my legs on hard pavement – my shin splints didn’t hurt! I think that was my biggest victory of the day. My calves were definitely sore, but my shins didn’t feel too bad. I think trail running might be my “new thing”!
One thing that I have really been thinking about is how to help others not be so scared to start running and get into a running groove. As I said, it is definitely hard, especially if your body is not used to it. Here is some advice I can give:
1) Be the tortoise, not the hare. This is especially important for people just starting running – go SLOW – both in pace and in adding mileage. Keeping your pace slow helps you feel like you can run forever, which is exactly how it should feel at first! Start slow/low with mileage, as well, if you are starting or just coming back from an injury. The easiest way to get injured or, even worse, demoralized, is to make your runs so long that you hurt yourself or you can’t make it all the way through and get sick of it. When you make a goal of how many miles to run each day when you are starting out, there is no need to be an overachiever. Yes, so-and-so down the street may run that many miles, but he/she has been training his/her body in a different way than you have, and what is right for someone else may not be right for you!
2) Don’t be afraid to walk. If you are new to running, or distance running, don’t be afraid to take a walking break during your runs! A quick 1-minute break may provide you the energy you need to bust out a much better run than you would have otherwise. ANY time on your feet, be it walking or running, is going to help your endurance and make you a better runner. If you are interested in incorporating regular walking intervals into your runs, check out The Galloway Method for more information on that – I know a lot of people that swear by it!
3) Find a buddy. Everything is more fun with a friend – especially exercise. Not only are you much more likely to quit early on in a workout if you are alone, but you are less likely to keep a regular schedule if you aren’t meeting a friend that you have fun with! I know it is easier said than done – I have had trouble finding weekday running buddies in Cville – but don’t hesitate to approach someone you know who is a runner and ask if you could run with them every once in awhile. Further, even if they are faster than you are (which is often the case when I run with others – I am super slow) they would probably LOVE to have a friend to chat with, too, and don’t care too much about the pace! It can’t hurt to ask =)
4) Get properly shoed/outfitted. Many people starting out running don’t want to spend the money to get a proper pair of shoes and some good running clothes, but it is SO important for the success of your runs and your happiness! The right shoes can be the difference between a happy runner and a runner with a chronic injury who stops running for life. Also, there is nothing more annoying on a run than clothing that doesn’t feel/fit right! Spend some time figuring out what works for you and makes you the most comfortable. It will definitely make a difference!
5) Fuel properly before and after a run. An upset stomach is not something you want to be dealing with on a run! Eat a simple meal about 45 mins- 1 hr before a run. Don’t eat anything too rich or complex – a banana, a piece of toast, or a scoop of peanut butter are all good examples of a quick, simple bite to eat. After your run, be sure to refuel right away with both liquids and some form of protein to give back to your body what you have just taken out of it =)
Those are my tips for new runners! Let me know if you have any questions about starting a running habit or if you have anything to add!
How did you start running?
Do you have a favorite running buddy?
If you don’t run, what scares you most about it? If you do, what DID scare you most before you started, and how did you overcome it?
What do you eat before and after a run?
Disclaimer: I am neither a doctor nor a certified personal trainer. Please consult a physician before starting any new exercise regimen.