Running is a popular and rewarding form of exercise that offers numerous benefits, from improving cardiovascular health and endurance to reducing stress and anxiety. But starting out as a new runner can be daunting, especially if you’re not used to regular physical activity.
As a new runner myself, I’ve learned a lot about the sport and about myself along the way. From the importance of proper footwear to the value of rest days, here are eight lessons I’ve learned that have helped me become a better runner.
In this blog post, I’ll share my experience as a new runner and offer insights that may help other beginners on their own running journey. Whether you’re just starting out or looking to improve your existing running routine, these lessons can help you become a more efficient, effective, and happy runner.
We’ll start with the importance of starting small and building gradually, so as not to overdo it and risk injury. We’ll then dive into the crucial role of quality running shoes, and how they can make or break your experience. We’ll also explore the value of cross-training and the need for rest days to avoid burnout.
Consistency, goal-setting, and listening to your body are also key components of a successful running routine, as we’ll discuss. And finally, we’ll touch on the importance of not comparing yourself to others and focusing on your own progress and journey.
So, whether you’re looking to train for a race, improve your health, or simply enjoy the physical and mental benefits of running, these lessons can help you get there. So, lace up those sneakers, and let’s get started.
Stretching isn’t a suggestion; it’s a requirement. Not just my legs, but my lower back as well has a tendency to tighten up quickly if I don’t stretch well after every run. I have also started adding yoga to my weekly routine by using the Down Dog Yoga app. I don’t have the most patience for at-home yoga, but the app lets me choose my length of time and level, plus it’s free. I try to do yoga now 2-3 days a week, but usually, it’s just a quick 10 or 15-minute session.
Hydration actually does make a difference. I’m the first to admit my biggest pitfall to “healthy living” is consistently staying well hydrated. I just forget to drink water! But when I forget I am so much more sluggish not only on my run but all day long. A couple of things that have helped me to drink more water are my Berkey, for the fact that it tastes so clean and is room temperature- I’m not a cold water fan, and my ThinkSport water bottle, which I really like for the size and feel of the mouthpiece.
It can take time for your body to adjust. I had a full blood panel done about a month back. I was feeling exhausted in the afternoons and was worried about iron, worried about my thyroid, and worried about what I might not even know about (have I mentioned I have hypochondria tendencies?). The result? All my levels were great iron, b12, etc. Vitamin D was a little low (I have since started on a supplement), but the doctor’s opinion was that my body was just adjusting to this new fitness routine. Apparently, even though I worked out regularly, running is just a different animal that my body was taking time to get used to. Oh. She also suggested I make sure I am drinking enough water 😉
Cross-training is important. Confession. I have not been great about making it to Burn Boot Camp. Part of it is our new routine; with homeschooling in the mornings and David leaving early, I either have to make it to the 5:00 AM class or not at all. I also try to use morning time to do blog stuff, so it’s a battle to see which activity wins out. I’ve done a few solo strength workouts but am missing doing regular weighted workouts. I feel like it makes a definite difference in my stamina and overall feeling of strength. I need to work on this. Suggestions welcomed!
I have to consider safety. I put a call out on Instastories asking for suggestions for feeling safer while running and received a ton of great suggestions!
- reflective running vest
- knuckle lights
- texting your husband or friend with your starting time and route
- no headphones
- use a headlamp
- take a self-defense class
- run with a buddy
- wear light colors
- run with your phone
- buy a road ID
- be aware of the surroundings
- make eye contact with people you pass
- don’t wear high ponytails
- change your route on the regular
- Road ID app
- pepper spray
I think it sucks that we even have to think about some of this stuff, but we do. I just bought this key chain pepper spray and honestly, I’m happy to have it for both running and for day-to-day life. I’m not an overly paranoid person, but I never mind an extra layer of safety.
Shoes make a big difference; not just running shoes. I did buy a new pair of running shoes before I got started. I went to Fleet Feet and was measured and assessed. I overpronate and have pretty flat feet. It turns out the Brooks Ghost shoe works well for me. However, I was still wearing $5 Old Navy flip-flops most of the time and I started to pay for them. developed pain in the arch of my foot and started having concerns about plantar fasciitis as well. After a few days of icing and rolling my foot out on a tennis ball, I decided my days of cheap shoes were behind me.
I polled Instagram (can you see I do this a lot?!) for supportive shoe suggestions and received the most responses I’ve ever gotten. By a landslide people suggested Birkenstocks, so after a lot of contemplating, I decided on the Mayari Sandals in Stone… and I am in LOVE. Hailey asked me yesterday if I own any other shoes because now they are all I wear. It took about 2 weeks to break them in, but I’d buy them again in a heartbeat. I’m actually considering buying another pair to use as house shoes since we don’t wear shoes in our home. I’ve also heard good things about Oofos, so I might get a pair of those for inside the house instead since they are half the price.
I have to accept that some runs will suck. Being that I am a plan follower, I missed a morning one day and tried to run around 11:00 AM instead. It. Was. Freaking. Terrible. Was it the heat? The humidity? What did I eat? I have no idea but it was the most miserable 1.75 miles ever because every step felt forced. It happens!
And now I have a few questions for fellow runners!
How do you stay motivated once the novelty fades? I still have the new runner high, but I can see sometimes that it is starting to fade. I really love sharing my runs on Instagram because I find it holds me accountable and the encouragement from others is helpful. But besides that- how do you stay motivated?
How do you keep your mind occupied/ not staring at your watch? Right now I listen to podcasts and it definitely helps the time pass. However, sometimes I still find myself staring at my mileage. Any tips?
Running coaches: are they helpful? First, let’s be honest, I’m training for a 5k, not a marathon, so I don’t need a coach, but I’m just curious if anyone has used one and what they liked or didn’t like about the experience.