As I think back to when I first started running in June of 2008, there are a few key pieces of information/advice that I wish someone would have shared with me! I am not a professional runner, exercise physiologist, or physical therapist so the following are just mere suggestions. As always, it is important to listen to your body and check with your health care professional before beginning any new exercise routine.
I think when people decide that they want to get into running, they tend to adopt an “all or nothing” mentality. I can tell you from personal experience that running is a sickness. Once you catch the bug, it takes a hold of you. Running starts to become a part of your identity. When you aren’t actually running, you will begin to feel the urge to talk about running. I was that girl who decided to sign up for a marathon after her first half mile trot around the neighborhood. I think people often times get discouraged and give up when they first start because they don’t see themselves improving fast enough. Running is hard! Make sure you are good to your body and don’t do too much too soon.
When I first started running, I followed the Couch to 5k program. You can download it for FREE! It is a 9 week training program designed to take you from a sedentary lifestyle to running non-stop for 30 minutes, or close to a 5k (3.1 miles). Basically the program utilizes a walk/run method in which you are able to build your endurance in a safe and gradual manner.
Please be aware of your surroundings! I only mention this because I was the girl who decided to become a runner and a week later found myself running through the “hood” in East Baltimore at night. Bad decision. Here are a couple of tips to help ensure you stay safe while pounding the pavement:
Carry water, even on short runs and in cooler temperatures. Staying hydrated is vital not only to your running, but to your long term health. I am never without a water bottle! I keep one on me at all times!!
If you are going to run at night, make sure you invest a running light or reflective gear. Both of these can be found at sporting good stores.
While music can be a great motivator, don’t be distracted by your iPod. You need to make sure you are aware of traffic!
Carry an ID with you (especially on long runs and races). This is extremely important if you would happen to have some type of medical emergency. I suggest making a copy of your driver’s license, health insurance card, and listing a few emergency contacts. You can fold it up and carry it in your pocket or race belt.
Consider mapping out your route before you take off on a run. One good resource is Map My Run. This site will also calculate your distance and even suggest other routes for you to try!
Always let someone know you are going running and how long you plan to be gone.
In general it is considered safest to run on the same side of the road as on coming traffic. Use your best judgement and be aware of “blind curves”.
Take Walk Breaks
When I first started running, I had this twisted perception that real runners don’t talk walk breaks. Starting out, I always viewed my run or race as a failure if I needed to take a walk break. After gaining some more experience I learned that virtually all runners take walk breaks at some point. Added bonus to using the walk run method: I truly believe that interval training is the #1 way to build your endurance and burn fat!
If you decided you want to be a runner, it is imperative you wear the correct shoes for your feet. When I started running, I remember walking into a Lady Footlocker and picking out something that looked sporty and felt comfortable. Little did I know that these were the exact opposite of what I should have been wearing! If you walk away with one piece of advice from me, get shoes that are right for your feet!
A great resource for ensuring the health and happiness of your feet is your local running stores. My favorite store is Fleet Feet. Fleet Feet stores tend to be privately owned and operated by people who are runners themselves and can give you some great tips! When I was fitted for my Brooks (which are my personal favorite) the owner of my local Fleet Feet actually video taped my feet while I ran. He then played the tape back for me and analyzed my run.
While you may initially spend a bit more on buying running shoes at a running store, you’ll save money in the long run on doctor visits and physical therapy. Think of buying good shoes as an investment! I guarantee your feet will love you.
While wearing cotton while running won’t kill you or cause you any major bodily harm, you will be much more comfortable in clothing that is designed for sweating like a pig. Clothing is one of the areas where people often drop some major bucks in the running world. When starting out, you may want to buy a few running tops or sweat wicking t-shirts, some shorts/pants/capris to get started. One great place to shop for work out clothes isTJ Maxx! You will often find the same apparel that is in stores but for a cheaper price.
Comfort is essential, $100 black workout capris are optional.
Again, much like clothing, watches tend to be another place where runners drop mega bucks! For close to two years, I was perfectly fine running with a $5 watch from Wal-Mart. I currently run with the Gamin Forerunner 205 watch and could not be happier with it! I am not a “techy” person, so I was quite resistant to invest in what I thought would be an overly complicated device. The Garmin 205 is super user friendly! As fancy GPS watches are concerned, my watch is mid-level price wise but provides me with a lot of important information on my runs. I am able to tell my average pace per minute, my total time running, my distance, and approximately how many calories I’ve burned. If you are considering buying a running watch, you may find it much cheaper to shop online. I bought mine new for $117 on Amazon.
Consider this fair warning: running is addictive! Often times when people decide that they want to start running, they will invest a lot of money in the fun gadgets that are marketed to help runners become stronger, faster, etc. The follow items are things that I have purchased at running expos, online or have been given to try that you may or may not find helpful. A word to the wise (and thrifty): don’t feel like you must have every running related gadget known to man to be a good runner. Don’t let all the “stuff” distract you from actually running.
I bought this little contraption at the running expo before the 2009 Thunder Road Half-Marathon in Charlotte. It provides you with a great place to store your keys, phone, emergency contact information, and a few bucks. I use mine during races to hold my “snacks”. I’ve also noticed some runners will pin their race bibs to the belt instead of their shirts. I could see that being handy if you were planning to shed some layers of clothing.
Hand Held Water Bottle
My handheld is made by Nathan and is the Quickdraw Elite Handheld model. It holds 22 ounces of water which is great for a 3 mile run. I like this water bottle a lot because it is easy to clean. The bottle seperates from the fabric portion and both are machine washable. I also like that it has a nice size pouch to store keys, snacks, etc. Unfortnuatly, I bought mine in a sporting goods store and fell for the 20% marked up price! You can find them much cheaper on Amazon.
More gadgets to come!!