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

pacing, pacing, pacing. junk miles vs. easy miles.

I’m starting to learn more and more about all the terrible things I’m doing while running these days.  My boyfriend was a collegiate runner and has made fun of me for years for running what he deems “junk miles”.  I used to scoff and him and think, “I’m in totally great running shape!  I run 4 quick miles every other day and I’m just getting faster!”.  Except I was wrong.  I know, I know I’m admitting I’m wrong and that’s a very hard thing to do but it’s also a very true thing!

Junk Miles: miles run at the same pace and the same distance every time you go out for a run.

Easy Miles: miles run at a comfortable, conversational pace.

If I keep running the same four miles every other day at the same pace for the rest of my life, where is that going to get me?  Three-quarters past nowhere.  I knew I needed to change things up and started reading some more and more info on the importance of easy runs, which were a total foreign concept to me.

 

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So why are easy runs important?

Even elite runners schedule in easy runs as part of their training.  Some of the fastest 5k runners with times of 14:30 and 15:12 pace their easy runs at 8:30 per mile.  Um.  Wow.  I never would have expected that in a million years.  So why does this work?

On easy days, you’re activating your slow-twitch muscle fibers. You are training the mitochondria and capillaries within them to better use oxygen and increase blood flow.  The easy runs are the building blocks for the more intense runs.  If you continually run at the same pace every time you go out there, you’re never going to get any better and will just coast.  To see improvement in speed and fitness, you need to challenge yourself even if that challenging thing is going slower than you ever anticipated.

Need help deciding which pace is right for you?  Look no further than the calculator here: https://www.mcmillanrunning.com/

One of my new year’s resolutions this year is to run smarter.  I’m going to focus on pacing, form, and varying my workout types and really trying to get out and run in more unique places.  It’s time for a change & I’m pretty darn excited.

-sj