What I Wish I Knew Before I Started Running
I’ve admitted it before and I will admit it again—I had no clue what I was doing when I started running. I had no one who ran and no idea where to even really begin except the old saying “put one foot in front of the other". I want nothing more than to help others learn from my mistakes and to enjoy running as much as I do (Even a fraction will do). I am always open to talk about running—-the good and bad. I'm pretty sure my husband at this point knows more about running than he ever has wanted to. But he is super supportive and has now learned the name of pro runners I love and I don't have to give the back story of who they are before I start gushing. So much so that I already have already proclaimed our next dog will be named Des.
The hard truth is running will suck in the beginning.
When you head out for your first run you will feel like you're on another planet. In a way you kind of are. You'll start by saying this isn't horrible, then you'll say ok this is hard and then you'll stop for a walk break and feel like you’ll never get better. DO NOT LISTEN TO THE LAST THOUGHT WHATEVER YOU DO. I remember after my first run I felt like I wasn’t going to recover or ever do that again. But I felt so proud for even trying to do it and I was too stubborn to not keep trying (Thank god!) I was determined to run a mile and be a “real runner”. In the words of Amanda Brooks of Run to the Finish—-If you run, YOU ARE A RUNNER. But at the beginning I didn’t have anybody to smack me and tell me that. So in case you don’t have anyone either *Virtual Smack* YOU ARE A RUNNER!
Now that you've been virtually smacked and told that important news flash we can move on.....
The good news is it gets better. Yes, there will still be days where it sucks but if you keep at it, those will be fewer and farther between. Plus after a while, looking back on the "bad" days will fuel your running fire even more. You'll go from "Man, I can't even run a mile" to "Man, I remeber when a mile felt hard!" Progress will come--- but here are some tips to help you along. Some things others have taught me and some things I’ve learned on my own (google might have helped as well but that’s a minor detail)....
Warming up is more important than the miles: It’s great you can run multiple miles but if you don’t warm up you will hurt way more than necessary and potentially injure yourself and therefor not be able to run. It doesn’t have to be an hour long warm up but do yourself a favor and don’t just start into the run. I’m just now becoming religious with my warm up. Run To The Finish has a ton of great content on the technical aspects and I highly recommend you picking up a copy HERE.
Don't feel pressure to sign up for a race right away: While I love races and think everyone should do at least one (Spoiler Alert: You probably won't do only one---It escaltes quickly into signing up for multiple) I also believe in not pushing too hard too soon. Give yourself time to get into a groove and just enjoy the learning process and building up your new muscles! You want to enjoy your first race and feel like you won't collapse a quarter mile in.
Do yourself a big favor and get a decent pair of running shoes!!!!! They don't have to be top of the line but using old, worn out, or ill fitting shoes will kill your running progress FAST . I highly recommend looking up your local running store and getting fitted properly for shoes. They aren't $5 shoes but you can find a good pair without breaking the bank. Be honest that you are new to running and don't be afraid to ask questions. A GOOD running store will welcome you excitedly and be eager to help you. They can watch you walk/run and be able to fit you in a shoe that will work with you versus against you. Running is hard enough without adding in crummy shoes. Yes, you can buy shoes online eventually but unless you are going to do all the research, know if you pronate/ overpronate, etc. than I advise you to go into a real store!! (If you had to google what pronation/overpronation was then I enphazize again to GO TO A STORE)
You will get unsolicited advice, comments and looks when you tell people you've taken up running. Depending on your personality it can be hard not to feel deflated and that you are silly for trying. STOP IT! DO NOT LET THAT NEGATIVITY IN! I still get people that make comments about my running and NOT in a positive way. Most are from people who don't run and never have ran. Even after running a half marathon I get comments. They'll never stop so just get some good combacks and don't pay it any attention. And if someone who does run makes any mean spirited or judgey comment then they are in the minority of the running community. The majority of us are just excited to have another friend to geek out with about this awesome sport!
Even though the above is very practical advise, there are more important things I wished I would have known before I started running:
Part of the fun is in the journey: We all tend to want to rush through the learning stage and get to the end goal---The finish line. But half of the fun of starting to run is learning, growing and trying something you never thought you'd do. Because I found running later (no highschool track team for me) it wasn't something that I just grew up with. I had no base in really any athletics apart from some random youth leagues and got so hyper focused on getting better I didn't take a step back and really appreciate how far I had come until recently. Celebrate all the milestones: First time you ran, first time you didn't feel like puking while running, your first half mile, your first mile, your first blister---Celebrate it all because when you look back you will always smile.
It's ok to take a step back and not run: I identify as a runner (heck I'm trying to make a career around all things running) but just because you take a break from running it doesn't mean that the title goes away. If you decide to take a week, 2 weeks, or whatever you want off from running it doesnt make you less of a runner. It's healthy to take a pause, try something new, or even just sit on the coach and hang. Being a runner and identifying as a runner doesn't mean you have to run every day and be euphoric about it all the time. Need further proof? Above is a tweet where Des Linden admits that she hadn't run for a whole MONTH! If an elite athlete who has not only gone to the Olympics but won the 2018 Boston Marathon than we can take a break too and not have it be the end of the world.
Running after having a kid will be different but at times even better: A lot of female runners in their child bearing prime fear that they won't be able to run after pregnancy or that they'll "never get back to where they were". I wasn't one who could run while pregnant and had both of these thoughts. I didn't know if I would be able to start all over again especially while learning the ropes of motherhood. It took a year before I even attempted to run again. It was hard and it did take me a while to get back to where I was. But throughout that journey I actually became a better runner. Not only am I stronger, faster and fitter than I was pre-baby but my mindset is too. If you are thinking of kids, currently pregnant, post partum or a new parent in any way and want to run, YOU CAN DO IT! Don't let the physical, emotional, or outside sources tell you otherwise. Take all the time you need to recover in whatever capacity applies and know that the post kid running era is just as amazing and you will be even more of a badass.
Most importantly: I wish I would have known how much running was going to give me and that I was starting a love story that would stand the test of time. If you would have asked me when I got home from my first run if I loved it I would have looked at you like you had 5 heads...OK, maybe even 6 heads. But I had no way of knowing that this sport, this outlet, this one thing----was going to bring me more joy than I could have even imagined. I could have never imagined all the lessons it would teach me about myself, my resilience, and my dreams. Running has become one of my great loves . I pray that I can do it no matter how old I get and that my daughter will share this with me and it will bring her the joy it's brought me. It's exactly why I want to help others love the sport even in the smallest way.
(Me + Running= Love)
To me, running is a gift that I am thankful for every single day and if I can coach someone and make them feel that ever lasting love then thats the cherry on top of it all.