10 things I wish I knew before I started running
Starting a running program isn’t a difficult process. Clothes on, shoes laced, and out the door we go. Easy, right? My first steps went something like that. I think I also ran for 30 seconds, breathing like an overheated dog and second-guessing my sanity. I’ve learned a lot since then. The good news is I lived through it, became a runner, and now I love sharing what I’ve learned along the way with others who are beginning their own running journeys!
Here’s my list of 10 things I wish I knew before I started running:
1. BUY GREAT SHOES: If you buy nothing else before beginning a new running program, invest in a great pair of running shoes. Take it from someone who worked in the running shoe industry for almost 15 years – it’s worth the investment. Think of them as your float equipment – your running life preserver. Shoes are designed to protect your body and make the run feel a little more cushy. You shouldn’t have to take out a second mortgage to buy them, but do expect to pay anywhere from $90-$150 for a good shoe. How will you know what to buy? Find your local running store and let them take you through a proper fit process. It’s the best way to meet your sole mate. Then, crown them your “running only” shoes. By giving them that special purpose, your body will feel fresh when you put them on, and they’ll last longer. In the words of Forrest Gump…
What’s my favorite shoe? The Brooks Glycerin is my go-to with a super plush ride, but you’ll also catch me in the Brooks Launch or Ghost. For trail running, it’s the Brooks Cascadia. If you don’t have a running store close to you, you can always try this handy tool to help point you in the right direction for shoes.
2. SUPPORT YOUR SISTERS: Men, you can skip this one and jog on down to #3. Ladies, listen up! There are two must-have pieces of equipment: great shoes and a quality sports bra. It pains me to see women wearing poorly-made sports bras, sometimes two at a time, when there have been so many advancements in bra technology. Guess what? You no longer have to double-up! True story. Finding a bra that fits your body type, boob shape, and support level is a personal experience. Since none of us are built the same, your local running store likely offers a custom bra fitting along with a wide selection for you to try on in-store. This is one time when I’ll advise you not to take the cheap route; buy the equipment that works for you. You’ve committed to this process of trying to get healthy by running, right? Now you deserve to feel great while doing it!
What is my favorite sports bra? As a reference point, I typically wear a 36B. (That’s the most public I’ve ever made my bra size, and it was oddly freeing.) I don’t believe in needing to put the ladies on lock-down for every activity, so here are the bras that make up my support group:
For a light cuddle (yoga, yard work, “active” days, comfy traveling) — I’m obsessed with the FineForm from the Brooks Moving Comfort Collection. It holds you in with just enough support that you can move around and feel confident knowing you’re covered. Need a little extra hug? Check out the back hook feature that turns this bra into a racer back with one tiny clasp. Um, hello, did you see all the cute colors?
For a firm embrace (fitness walking, hiking, kayaking, running) — Don’t know where to start in your quest to support the breast? I recommend trying on the Fiona. We’ve been bosom buddies for about 9 years now. Constructed with a universal fit that supports many different sizes, the front-adjustable straps also come in handy for custom fit tweaks. There are also two new bras to the line that are in this same genre, the Uprise (A/B cups) and Uplift (C/D cups) Crossback. I’m dying to get my hands on one. Rumor has it they are rockstars!
For a not-gonna-move grasp (running, basketball, jump rope, playing on a trampoline, bungee jumping) — Put it on and lock-em-down; Rebound Racer to the rescue. It’s an over-the-head crossback bra so it can be a little tricky to get on, but when you’re in, you’re in. There’s nothing uncomfortable about it, but just know things are going to get pretty cozy in there. A tip to getting it on is to unlatch the back hook-and-eye closure, pull it on, and then relatch the hook-and-eye. Trust me, you’re going to love that back closer when you’re removing a sweaty bra!*
3. IT GETS EASIER: One day there will be this moment when running will feel easier. I know you might not believe me now, but it will! Your legs will start chugging along like The Little Engine That Could, your lungs will function with ease, and it won’t feel like such a push the whole way. Like magic, it just happens. That moment you might start to think you like running after all. What?! No way! Yes way! When or where this moment will happen is unknown, but trust the journey, give it time, and it will get easier.
4. BUDDY UP: Showing up is much easier when you know someone is waiting for you. Find a friend, a co-worker or your spouse and ask them to be your running buddy. But here’s the deal — you have to promise to hold one another accountable. No texts at 6 AM saying you’re tired. No wimping out because it’s raining. I know you’re sweet, but I promise you won’t melt. Plus, you’ll feel much better once you get fresh air in your lungs, your heart rate up, and some good ol’, cheap therapy. Therapy? Yes, read on.
5. IT’S THER-RUN-PEUTIC: Whether you run alone or with other people, running can be the cheapest form of therapy. Happy runs. Angry runs. Bitching runs. Crying runs. Inspirational runs. Humbling runs. Kick-my-own-ass runs. Character building runs. Think-it-through runs. Laughing runs. I-can-conquer-the-world runs. Whatever the situation is, there’s a really strong chance a dose of running can help. Let it go, let it go!
6. SMILE MORE: It makes runs happy. I’m not saying you have to be the bubbly runner who always says hello to everyone (that’s definitely me!), but cracking a smile makes it hard to be miserable. Plus, it’s a way to provide a boost to a fellow runner when they’re struggling. Go ahead, make a runner’s day!
7. YOU CAN DANCE IF YOU WANT TO: Do you ever start a run and everything seems out of whack? Maybe you can’t catch your breath, or your cadence has a hitch in it? When that happens to me, I take a cue from Miss Taylor Swift, and I just shake it off. Really. Stop running and shake out your body. Dance and wiggle around. Feeling better? Now back to running.
8. WALKING IS ALLOWED: There’s no shame in taking walk breaks. I still do it after 15 years. If you do walk, promise yourself you won’t slow too much and try to move with intention. Continue pumping your arms and walk briskly to keep your heart rate up. Give yourself a 15-second countdown, or pick an object like a light pole or a stop sign to walk to before you begin running again. If you’ve read my post on how I started running you know this is how my journey began.
9. THERE’S A RESET BUTTON: You’ve made a commitment to yourself, and now you’re gonna be a runner. GO, YOU! But somewhere after the first or second week you start to slip. One workout gets missed, and then another, and before long it feels like you’ve fallen so far off the plan there’s no way to get back. Don’t worry, it happens to all of us. Do that shake-it-off thing again, dust off your britches and get back on that horse. Let’s run!!
10. IT’S 1000% WORTH IT: Running ain’t easy. If it were, you wouldn’t feel like such a gosh darn superhero every time you do it. It takes commitment, persistence and grit. Some days are easier than others but stick with the program. You’ll feel the glory when fireworks of personal pride, self-worth, and accomplishment come bursting out of you as you cross the finish line of your first race. My glory always comes out like a faucet in the form of tears; I’m a softy, what can I say? The coolest part is that EVERY race you finish will give you that similar feeling. It’s always worth it in the end.
And there you have it—10 things I wish I knew before I started running. There must be 100 more I could write about, but I hope these get you off to a running start!
QUESTION: What’s one thing you wish someone had told you before you started running? Leave it in the comments section below, or feel free to ask another question you might have!
*Some of you might be wondering why I seem to always recommend Brooks gear. A) They make fantastic footwear, apparel, and accessories. If you haven’t tried them, you’re missing out! B) I worked there for 5 years and still continue to be the biggest run happy fan ever.
Feature Photo credit to the whimsical talent of Mr. Ryan McGuire.