running 101: what do I need?

It’s been a busy start!  Work is taking off since we have a big conference coming up and I feel like I’m already drowning and it’s barely halfway through the week.  At least I have this nugget of a co-worker to keep me company.

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No joke, I was sitting on my couch working and she came and lied across my lap and computer.  Girl is not afraid to go for what she wants, especially if what she wants is pets.

The thing that’s keeping me sane during this crazy time?  Running.  specifically running 9 miles on Monday because I am insane.  After signing up for the half marathon, I wanted to make sure it wasn’t entirely impossible so here we are.

image3The most important tip I can give you to start out your running journey is don’t care about how you look.  Every single time I finish a long run I look like a zombie come back to life who just got caught in a rain storm.  And I have no shame about it.

But real talk, let’s get down to business.  What do you need to start running?  Well, you’re in luck my friend.  You don’t need a whole heck of a lot.  Running is one of the most basic forms of exercise.  Humans have been doing it since the dawning of time and it is one of the few things that we are just built for.  That being said, with the invention of modern technology, there are some things that really help.

So, what’s the most important thing a new runner needs? Shoes.  Shoesshoeshoes.  Did I say shoes?  Because it’s shoes.

I’m not lying when I say that the right shoes will make or break your experience running.  If you’re really serious about trying this out, head on over to a running store like Road Runner, Fleet Feet, or another specialty running store and have them assess how you run.  The people who work at these stores are experts.  They know what to look for to make sure that the shoe you choose will be not only comfortable, but functional.

You want your shoes to be a little bit big because your feet will swell after about a half hour of running, so you’ll want that extra space.  Find out if you pronate or not.  This means you land with flat feet and is a fairly common problem, but good news, they make shoes especially for this problem.  If you take the time to invest in a good pair of shoes, you will notice.  Shoes can be a little on the expensive size ranging anywhere from $80-$180 for a good pair, but they will be well worth it.  Plus, this is pretty much the only real thing you need for running.

Other running things you may want:

  • Good socks.  Spoiler alert: you can buy these at the running store too when you get your shoes!  I get really bad blisters on my feet when I don’t wear the right socks, so this can be almost as important as your shoes.  You want to look for something that does not have cotton in it as cotton does a pretty crummy job of preventing blister.  Ask your new running expert friend at the store what they recommend.
  • Moisture wicking clothes.  We’ve all seen people going on runs in baggy t-shirts and shorts and they seem to be doing just fine.  Truth is, they probably are, but they would feel a whole heck of a lot better if it didn’t feel like they were dragging around a wet towel strapped to them.  Do yourself a favor and go to Marshalls and/or TJMaxx and pick up a couple of athletic shirts and pants for $5 each.  You’ll thank me later
  • Music/Podcast/Audiobook.  Not necessarily a requirement, but a nice to have.  Some people hate to run with anything in their ear distracting them from the world around them, but I am not one of those people.  Give me all the distractions.  Currently, I’m really into podcasts for my log runs because they’re about an hour long and there are so many different types that I can always find one to fit my mood.  Plus they’re free.
  • Foam Roller.  If you’re only in to the running thing because you want to get injured, don’t get a foam roller.  I made this mistake the hard way when I first started out.  A) I didn’t know what this mythical beast was.  B) This girl didn’t have time to stretch, she was all business.  Enter IT Band injuries, Piriformis injuries, Knee injuries, foot injuries.  You name it, I’ve had it. That is until I realized how important it was to massage your muscles.  A foam roller helps get those knots out of your legs and to get the blood moving so muscles heal faster and more effectively.
  • A good running app or watch.  You don’t have to track your workouts, but if you don’t how will you ever know how far you ran?  That’s part of the glory after all.  Chances are even if you tell some one you ran a mile this morning that’s one more mile than they’ve probably run since school.  Win for you.  My favorite running apps that track distance/pace etc. are Runkeeper and MapMyRun, both of which are free in the App Store.  As far as watches are concerned, I have the Garmin Forerunner 220 and love it, but it’s much more of an investment than one of the free apps so keep that in mind.

Those are the things I consider the basics.  Not all of them are mandatory you must have this before you run even a foot, but they’re things I have found that help me to keep going and can help you too.

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Workout: Let’s try some intervals.  Sprint as hard as you can for 30 seconds.  Stop and Walk for 30 seconds.  Repeat 10 times.

-sj

running 101: getting started.

“How did you do it?”

“I decided to be able to.”

So, I signed up for a half marathon.  I have been consistently running for almost 7 years at this point and how I’ve never run a race is anyone’s guess.  But that doesn’t make me feel like any less of a runner.  Recently, my boyfriend got me a copy of Alexandra Heminsley’s book “Running Like a Girl”.  To be honest, I didn’t think I would like it nearly as much as I did.  In fact I devoured the book.  It is the perfect read if you’ve ever had any questions about running.  If you’ve never run more than your gym class mile as a kid or if you’re a consistent runner averaging 50 miles+ a week, you can still get something out of this read.  I found myself jotting down quotes and passages as I went along just because they were so inspiring and really motivating.  So much so that when I finished the book last night, I decided I was going to finally bite the bullet and sign up for a half marathon.  Philly Love Run, I’m coming for you.

image2I get asked often questions about running especially by people who are just starting out and I’m always more than happy to answer, so while I’m getting my training for the half done, I’m going to be putting together a series of Running 101 posts to help new and experienced runners alike.

Today’s topic: Getting Started.

By far the hardest part about running is starting.  When I first started, I had only ever run in school when we had our mandatory mile.  In middle school, I would get wicked heel spurs and find any way I could to get out of running.  It never worked and I always would get stuck plodding around the track for some laps while my lungs burned and I cursed the day the mile was ever invented.

Enter college.  I went to the gym 4-5 times a week, but refused to run.  The memories of gasping for air, beet red faces, and excruciating boredom kept me from running at all.  After awhile, I had been elliptical-ing and working on my cardio endurance and getting pretty bored with just biking and walking, so I decided I would give a run a go.  I saddled up onto the treadmill and picked a song to run along with.  I ran and ran and hated every second of it.  After I was sure at least 30 minutes had passed I pressed stop only to be met by a flashing red workout summary that totaled my distance at .6 of a mile.  Awesome.  I was disheartened to say the least and decided that I wasn’t a runner and this wasn’t for me.

A couple weeks later, I went and tried again.  And you know what?  It wasn’t nearly as bad and I actually finished a full mile.  Was I going at a snails pace?  Probably slower to be honest, but I had done it.  And I haven’t stopped since.

That first run is a right of passage.  I’m going to be the first to tell you, it’s probably not going to be that fun.  It’s probably going to suck.  But I assure you any run from there on out will be a whole heck of a lot easier.  My advice: walk where you want to run a couple times first.  If you really like a particular trail, walk around it a couple times and then one day, let it all go and run it.  You know what’s there and what you’re going to run in to, but it’s such a different experience when you run past it all.

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Tips for just starting out:

  • Pace yourself.  This is not a race, this is just life.  You don’t have to go as fast as you can.  Pick a pace that if comfortable and conversational.  If you can’t talk a little bit while you’re running, you’re going to burn out way more quickly than you want to.
  • Breathe.  This is the most important thing you can do.
  • Visualize something awesome.  Pretend you’re running through a field of daisies, pretend your running from a herd of zombies, pretend you’re running to catch something in front of you.  Giving your mind a task keeps you focused on something other than what you’re doing.
  • Make small goals.  See that lightpost up there? You only have to run that far.  Oh, that felt good and you want to keep going?  Why don’t you go to that tree.  It sounds silly, but it works, I promise
  • Think about time in a useful way.  20 minutes may seem like such a daunting amount of time to run for, but think about how short of an amount of time that is compared to everything else you do.  I bet it’s shorter than your commute.  I bet it’s shorter than how long it takes you to make dinner.  I bet it’s shorter than how long it takes you to get up and get ready in the morning.  You can run for 20 minutes.
  • Remember, you don’t have to run the whole time.  If you’re just starting out, you probably don’t have the cardiovascular strength to keep continuously running and that’s okay.  Take a breather when you need it, but vow to keep moving.  A great way to start is to alternate intervals of running and walking.  Run for 3 minutes, walk for 2, run for 3 minutes, walk for 2.  Then in a couple runs go for 4 minutes running, 1 minute walking.  Eventually, you’ll be able to run non-stop like it’s no big thing.

You can do it if you decide you want to.  Lace up your shoes and get out there because why not?

Workout: Run/Walk for 20 minutes in an area you love.

-sj