It’s no secret that running isn’t my area of expertise. Yet I get a lot of running questions, especially how to get started. I know when to call in an expert. Here is a guest post from my friend and future running coach, Sarah Jo Austin. You can check out more advice at her blog Run More Awesome.
Wherever you are on a fitness journey, venturing into new territory can be intimidating if you don’t know where to start. This is especially true of running. When I started running to complete my first race 5+ years ago, I was clueless about training, pacing, shoes. But along the way, I’ve learned lots of running secrets – tips and tricks to running success. Here are six that are applicable to rookie runners:
1. Join a running group.
Navigating the sub-culture of running is much easier if you have friends mentoring you along the way. They’ll encourage you to keep running when you want to stop, offer advice specific to your running situation, and help the miles speed by.
2. Sign up for a 5K.
No need to learn the metric system; a 5K is 3.1 miles. You can train for and complete a 5K with about eight weeks of training, giving your body time to adjust without wearing it down. If you catch the running bug and add a marathon to your bucket list, give yourself 2-3 years to work up to it.
* Bonus * If you need extra motivation to sign up for a 5K, pick one benefiting an organization that is meaningful to you.
3. Buy a pair of running shoes later.
When you start running, you can get away with running on a pair of sturdy cross-trainers for a while, but as you build up your mileage, you’ll need a pair of dedicated running shoes. Your local running store is full of associates who are not only knowledgeable about the needs of runners’ feet but who are often runners themselves. They can look at your feet — maybe even put you barefoot on a treadmill and watch you run — and guide you toward the right shoes.
4. Invest in compression gear.
This secret is for those of us (myself included) who have been blessed with wobbly bits. Skin + clothing + sweat + friction = chafing +/- blisters. Sports bras and other clothing meant to compress your body will help prevent these problems. Look for clothing reviews in running magazines. RunnersWorld (create link to order on Amazon) is a great place to start.
* Anti-Chafing Tip *
BodyGlide, Sportshield, (Amazon links) or old-fashioned baby oil applied to hot spots like the inner thighs and underarms also help eliminate painful chafing.
5. Read up on proper running form. Attend a form clinic.
We all started running instinctively when we were wee tikes. But because we know how to run does not mean we “know” how to run. It’s wise to consider your form both on and off the road in order to improve your efficiency and prevent injury. At the very least, read up on proper running form (I recommend “ChiRunning” by Danny Dreyer) (Amazon link) and attend a form clinic.
6. Dress for the weather + 10 degrees.
I have been running for 5+ years, and I still forget to take this piece of running advice every time I go out for the first crisp morning run in the fall. As tempting as it is to add an extra layer, trust your body. It will warm up. Dress in layers, so you can shed them as you go.
To conclude, I offer this bit of encouragement: Though you cannot imagine those high-mileage runners to whom you look up ever being beginners, they once were. Don’t be intimidated by them; they are your greatest resource on your running journey. Slowly build up your mileage and your run-walk ratio, and you’ll learn the rest as you go.