I’ve been meaning to write this post for a while, and huge disclaimer right upfront. I am in no way an expert on running, I don’t have any certificates that can tell you how smart I am or make me actually qualified to give advice. What I do have, however, is thousands of miles logged and the fact that running makes me really really happy. And any of you who are new to running, that’s how it should make you feel as well. So here are my tips that I hope will help you love it as much as I do:
First, I must state you will also HATE running sometimes. You will want to sleep through your alarm, you will regret signing up for races and you will curse the day you read this post. With that said, suck it up! We all feel that way. But those days become less and less the more you run. Soon the days you don’t run will be the days you’re grumpy. You will actually LOOK FORWARD to going out and running miles upon miles. Sounds crazy huh?
I use any trick I can to get my ass out the door and running. Social media is a HUGE motivator for me, and a lot of other people. Let’s be honest, if you tell everyone on Facebook you’re running a half marathon and then don’t do it, you look like a quitter. No one likes that feeling. Or else you don’t train enough and you have a terrible and slow race. That also creates a wave of embarrassment. (Note, sucking from a lack of training is not the same thing as getting injured or having unavoidable issues).
- Track your miles -Make a goal for each month or for the year and keep track of the mileage you log. I am on like a billion sites including these: DailyMile.com, MapMyRun.com, Nike+ and Strava (to name a few, ha)
- Tell people what you’re doing – If you’ve signed up for a race, Post it! You can’t back out once you’ve told people (and one or two posts will do, don’t fill your feed with gym selfies please, you’ll give us runners a bad name. Use instagram for this and keep it reasonable)
- Find like minded people – If you do want to fill your Facebook with running post, find a group that is dedicated to running and post in there. You’ll get great feedback and advice as well as being able to really gloat about your running accomplishments.
- Blog – Let’s be honest, there are about a billion blogs out there about running. Mine is just an excuse to let me focus on my runs and motivate me to keep doing it, so join in the fun!
I know not everyone agrees with the running with music philosophy, but I’m a huge proponent of it (not if you’re on any dangerous roads or high traffic areas, always remember to be safe). I make playlists for my long slower runs, for my speed work, for my tempo runs… I think it has a huge effect on running. I also think it helps to pass the hours when you’re out by yourself for a couple hours doing long runs. So take a couple minutes and put those songs you love on a playlist and jam out as you go! (You can find all my music, don’t judge, on Spotify)
Make a goal to get you going. You’ll be a lot less likely to slack off if you know you have to run a half marathon! Start small (small is relative) and do a 5k. Also make sure you make your goals realistic, don’t sign up for an ultra when you just start running, that’s way too big and you’ll be exhausted just thinking about it. Do something you can achieve and then build up your goals little by little.
There are two reasons I think running with others is helpful
- You won’t skip your workout – I’m a solo runner mostly. I don’t need the group run to motivate me to get a run in, some people do. If you know you’ll let down a friend or a running group if you skip your run, you’ll be more likely to get out and go.
- You’ll work harder – This one totally applies to me. If I’m with a group of people running, I try harder. I did a class with NYRR while I was training for the 2013 NYC Marathon and I did more speed work than I ever would have done on my own (I know this is the part of my running I slack on). I also tried a lot harder in my workouts… which is to say I ran till I felt like I was going to die vs when I’m by myself and I only run till I feel like I’m going to puke. (If you’re super new, wait until you have a nice running base before you go total balls out, you won’t burn out or injure yourself that way.)
I’m a sucker for gadgets. I think anything that makes you want to get off your ass and go running is money well spent. I can also justify any purchase… Say a new GPS watch… $150 is like a night out in NYC, I’m actually saving money with all the mornings I’ll go running and all the nights I will skip out drinking… See how that works! Here are the things that I think it’s OK to spend money on:
- GPS Watch – I finally invested and bought a TomTomRunner. It’s my first one, so I don’t really have anything to compare it to. They keep updated the online site, making it better and better and this was one of the few that fit my birdlike wrist that I didn’t find too clunky to run with. I love the thing! I nailed my pace with it in the NYC Marathon. No excuses with this on your wrist!
- My Phone – I used to run with an iPod, now my iPhone pretty much does it all. You can find me posting Instagram pics, tweeting, using gps apps, all my music is on here, etc. It’s pretty much my life bread.
- Running Clothes/Shoes – The running clothes everyone is making these days are super cute and so comfortable. I have no problem investing $130 or so on a pair of running shoes. Unlike heels that I’ll wear a handful of times a year, I spend hours upon hours in my running sneakers. It’s worth the investment and there are so many specialty running stores, find one in your area and get a pair that fits you correctly. And with the clothing, if you feel comfy and badass, you’ll be more likely to lace up and go show off how great you look running. So go on a shopping spree when you need a boost, I approve.
- NikeFuel/Fitbit – these are just other gadgets that get you moving more, which can never be bad. If you’re mindful of how active you are throughout the day, you’ll incorporate better habits into your schedule. (nikefuelband & fitbit)
Have one. There are plenty online that you can search for, depending on what your goals are, your race distance, and your fitness levels, just do a little research and find one that’s right for you then stick to it.
- It’s going to SUCK when you start – I’ve been running for years, and when I take a couple months off and then try to get back into it, I even think it sucks! Stick it out. Once you get into it more and more, it will suck less and less. Parts of you will hurt that never hurt before, you’ll think it’s boring, that it’s hard, that you really could skip it. But keep going, it gets better, I promise.
- It’s going to HURT – Duh, right? But it has to be said. Your tolerance will increase. You’re threshold for that sucky running feeling will increase. And once you get to that runner’s high feeling, you’ll know why people love the pain just as much as they love being done.
- Walking is OK – I walk on my runs still. Sometimes you have to and it’s actually good. Think of it this way… Is it better to run a mile and not walk at all? Or to run 3 miles and take a quick walk break after each mile? Exactly. Throw a walk in there, go longer, don’t hate your life.
- Food – Don’t think because you ran 3 miles you can eat an entire pizza. That’s not how this works.
- Race yourself – And by this I do not mean that every race is a PR. Race from where you start. I know what my PR is for all my races and my fitness level is not always at PR status. But I’ll know what my potential is when I go out to do a race, and I’ll run like hell to reach it. Take my recent Brooklyn Half Marathon race, I knew I wasn’t going to beat my PR from last year of 1:34 in it, I had taken 2 months off from running and had only been back to training for a month. But that doesn’t mean I can slack… I laced up and ran a 1:38. It wasn’t my best, but by God I tried my hardest. So go out there and always try to kick your own ass.
- Rest – This is a big one if you don’t want to get hurt! Recovery days are important. I know I constantly have problems with my IT Bands and if I don’t rest and take the time to foam roll like a maniac, I have some serious issues. It’s more important to stay healthy than it is to run those couple miles.
- Post Race Celebration – I am a big fan of doing something after a race, it makes all your hard work seem like nothing when you’re having a beer with friends talking about how awesome your run just went. Plan a brunch or a day at the beach or a BBQ for after your race, it’ll make your weeks of training seem less gruesome when you have a carrot at the end of the stick.
- Have Fun – Find what makes running fun for you and do it. I always think of that Friends episode when Phoebe and Rachel go running in Central Park, you know the one, where Phoebe runs like she’s a little kid because that’s when running was fun for her (don’t slack on your form, this is just the spirit of it). So go out there like the crazy person you are, run like a little maniac!
Do you guys have any tips you want to share? Post away!
(this is also more general ideas vs training. Maybe that’ll be in a different post 😛)