Saturday, January 19, 2013

So, You Want to Start Running?

The other day, my little sister left this post on my Facebook wall. It left me with a huge smile on my face throughout the day.

I'm so excited for her to start training with her husband. Now, I just need to figure out why she's going to train, but not run?? ;-)

Now, I'm not the best or most consistent runner, but since she asked, I thought I'd share my thoughts in a post for anyone to read. Actually, last March my sister-in-law asked me some similar questions.

Tips for Beginning Runners | Enjoying the Course

Running Shoes

It seems the first question I always get is about shoes. And, it IS an important question; however, I do not have a favorite shoe. I'm not one of those runners who swears by a brand/model. I find a pair I like, and I run them until I don't anymore. I rarely own more than one pair of active running shoes at a time.

That being said, my best advice for running shoes is to visit a local running store. This is what they do! :) When you walk in, just tell them you are new to running. If it is any kind of reputable store, they will do some kind of fitting for you - measuring, analyzing your gait, looking at your arches, or some variation of these. They will recommend a few for you and then just choose whichever is most comfortable. They may even have a treadmill for you to test out the shoes on.

Training Plan

While you're shopping for shoes, ask about their running groups. Many local running stores will offer different group runs during the week. They often break into groups by distance, speed, experience, etc. There are so many benefits to running with a partner or in a group, but that's really a topic for another day. Now, my sister will be training with her husband, so she's got a built in running partner, but running with a group can help mix things up, at the very least.

Some running stores might even offer training programs that you can sign up for. Having an actual program is really helpful when you're starting out - especially if you're starting with such an ambitious goal! If your local running store doesn't offer one, or you don't want to pay for their program, there are lots of available online programs. Try searching for "couch to 5K (or half marathon or whatever distance)" or "half marathon training programs" or whatever distance you might desire. I've also heard really good things about Hal Higdon's different training programs.

Tracking Progress

I don't know about you, but when I'm training for something ok, even when I'm not, I need some accountability.  Plus, I'm kind of a numbers/data person, tracking myprogess has been a good way to help me stay motivated. I really like to track all my runs on DailyMile. If you're not familiar with DailyMile, it's kind of like Facebook - but for runners, etc. You add friends, log your exercise, and comment on your friends' activity. It's fun, and I've made a lot of virtual friends. If you're on DailyMile, you should totally add me and say hello!

I also recommend tracking your runs in real time. I generally just use my smart phone. My favorite app is Cardio Trainer. I've tried a few, but this is the one that has worked the best for me. If you have an iPhone, I've heard good things about Runkeeper. If you have a little more money, maybe a Garmin is for you. If you're a little low on funds, a simple sport watch with a stopwatch would work for time, and then you could get your exact distance by logging your route into DailyMile.

Core & Strength Training

I think that many runners - beginning and more experienced - often make the mistake of skipping this important part of aspect of running. Having a strong core can really help your running performance and help prevent injury. I'm blogged about my post-run routines here and here - just some simple exercises and stretches that I've found helpful. I struggle with this a lot, but I'm trying to make it a focus. If you're not sure what to do, at least throw in some planks. Try searching for WOD (workout of the day) to find other ideas or you could always get a gym membership or maybe a personal trainer.

Part of this also includes cross training. It helps to mix things up and work different muscle groups. Go for a bike rike. Go swimming. Practice yoga. Take a fitness class. Dance in your living room. Go for a walk or a hike. There are so many ideas!!


This is really THE most important thing to remember. I'm not going to lie. Not every run will be wonderful and tons of fun. Sometimes it will hurt. Sometimes you'll want to die. You'll want to give up. BUT always remember YOU CAN DO IT! Don't focus on the aches and pains or the fact that you feel like you cannot breathe. Instead focus on your surroundings. There truly is beauty everywhere you look. Focus on the fact that you are doing it and giving it your all.

Tips for Beginning Runners | Enjoying the Course

Of course, this also means listen to your body. I'm serious. If you feel like you're about to die, it's not the end the world to stop and take a breather or walk for awhile. If you have a bad run, remember the next one will likely be better.

I don't always listen to music when I run, but sometimes it's the perfect way to enjoy a run. Get lost in your tunes. Or in your head. Or in conversation with a friend. Change up your pace or your stride. Tell yourself a funny story or a joke. Do whatever you can to relax and enjoy the run - even when it sucks. :) You'll be stronger and thank me later.

I think that about covers my advice to a new runner. I'm sure there's lots I left out, but I've already been working on this post for nearly a week work was crazy again this past week!, and I want to get it out there for my little sister to read.

What other tips or advice would you give to a new runner?

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  1. A very useful and practical post, Clarinda. Thanks for the tips! I'll have to pull this post up to re-read if I start running again.

    1. You're welcome! I hope you start running again and find this helpful when you do. :)

  2. Thanks! I am not going to run the race because of Saul, he needs mama :) BUT I figured it would be healthy for me and Todd needs a helper so TADA here I am :) THANKS for the info it is very good! I appreciate the time you took :)

    1. Ah. Well, you train with Todd for this one, and then he can watch Saul for the next one. :) You're so welcome. Sorry it took me so long, but I really do hope that you find it helpful. I'm so happy and excited for you. I can't wait to hear all about it.

  3. These are great tips, Clarinda! I love your tips about tracking... I'm a huge number person, too. Plus, I think it's so helpful for anyone to see their progress.

    1. Thanks, Laura. Tracking your progress can be so encouraging - until you hit a plateau. :)

  4. Wonderful tips Clarinda! I think it's great to have fun and listening to your body is one of the most helpful tools for a runner to have.