Running is no different, it all starts with putting one foot in front
of the other and consistently doing this on a regular schedule to
improve and meet your goals. Ya can’t fake it with running, and
honestly, that is why I love it. There are no short cuts to having a
good race, just plain old hard work.
I frequently get asked tips about running so I thought I would put
together steps to make progress in your journey to becoming a runner.
I want to share of all my trials and tribulations over the past few
1. Pick a Goal/Race – It is always much easier to stick with something
when there is a GOAL with a set DATE in mind. Get the caps – yes
something measurable, like run 1 mile without walking by September 30, 2014 or Run the Halloween Hustle 5K on October 31, 2014. Sign up or write it down. Make a sticky note of your goal and stick it on your
bathroom mirror to keep it in front of you a few times a day. Lisa’s
tip: Ask friends or do a FB post if you are unsure of what some good local races are coming up. Here in Michigan, I use RunMichigan.com to find up and coming races and I bet your state has a site like it too!
2. Get Proper Shoes – Having the right shoes are crucial not only to your comfort but to injury prevention as well. Head out to a reputable running store in your area, again ask friends on Facebook or Google it. IMO you can not get fitted for a proper pair of shoes at a Big Box Sporting goods store. Running stores are filed with runners and I have yet to find one where all the employees do not also run. Bring a pair of shoes you walk in or some tennis shoes with good wear so they can get an understanding of your movement. Most likely you will also run a short bit on a treadmill for them too, don’t be nervous, you won’t fly off and do not have to go fast.
3. Find a Training Plan, Schedule and Track your Runs. Stick to it. – I mean it when I say stick to it! There are several good ones out there, for the beginner I recommend either Jeff Galloway‘s run/walk method or the Couch to 5K program. For more advanced, take a look at Hal Higdon. Look around at a few different plans and decide on the one that will best fit where you are at right now, fitness wise as well as your overall lifestyle. They can be tweaked a bit, but not much. Sure, move runs around from one day to the next, but the weekly mileage should stay consistent.
When I first started out, I couldn’t even run 1/4 of a mile so I started with Couch 5k. It is run/walk based that gradually builds you up to be able to completely run a 5K. The alternative is Jeff Galloway’s method of run/walk based on your pace where your goal is to run and walk the event. Either works, just depends personally on what your goals are and where you want to be. There is certainly no shame in following the Galloway method, in fact for my first few half marathons I would take a walk break every mile.
The last part is to track it. I don’t care if you use paper, electronic or both. Personally I get so much gratification out of seeing my mileage written down on the month pages of my Erin Condren planner (where I also plan ahead workouts) but I also like using dailymile.com for graphs and tracking over the weeks and months. Figure out what works, but make sure after each run, you document it. It is a great and motivational way to see improvement as time goes on.
4) Find your Pace – Now you don’t have to be too scientific about this, I just mean what works for you. You certainly do not want to run a 5K and be burnt out after mile 1. This is where your data comes in, look at how you have improved since you started. Now, think about your race or goal. Based on the last time you ran that distance, what should your pace be to run the race and finish in? For example if the last time you ran 2 miles and completed it in 24 minutes. Your pace would be 12 min/mile . You could think that when you try to run 3 miles you should shoot for a pace of 13-14 min /mile (just to allow some leeway if you have never done the distance before) and complete 3 miles in 36-38 minutes. The whole point of pace is to have a target and stay with it. This becomes more crucial as you advance in the sport. You can start to use a GPS watch to track your pace per mile or even instantaneous to improve your training goals and learn the best way not only to train, but to run a race. For now, I don’t want you sprinting out of the corral and getting burn out. Think smart and be consistent.
5) Fuel, Hydrate and Mentally Prepare Properly – Food is king, as is hydration. The last thing you want to experience as a runner is dehydration which can cause a whole host of problems. As they say,
you are what you eat and this is especially true when starting any sort of exercising program. Try not to eat two hours before a run, and for sure try to limit fatty, greasy foods. If you need assistance, I highly recommend using the 21 Day Fix nutrition portion
to get started on knowing the appropriate amount fats/proteins and carbs your body needs to perform. It is a really easy way to make sure you are not overeating on one food group as well as keeping the calories in check.
Hydration is also the king. For two days before a race you should be sure to drink as much pure water as you can. This will help your body perform at it’s best on race day. Also, always try to drink at least 8 – 8oz. glasses a day, or more depending how much you sweat. I like to bring a handheld bottle with me filled with either nuun or water when I head out. If I use Gu type products, I love the Honey Stinger brand and use them for runs longer than 6 miles. Now, that is me, you may want to have a Gu at mile 2. You need to find what works for you, I just want to share what I do here to hopefully help inspire someone to start on their journey as a runner.
6) Enjoy! – Your first race can be stressful. Make sure you go to packet pickup a head of time to get your bib and timing chip if they have one. Pin your bib on the front of your shirt, that way you will be able to search for your pictures by your number after the race is over. Relax, the atmosphere of a race is really supportive and the energy of the crowd is addicting!
When it is time to line up for the race make sure you are in the appropriate pace area. Usually there will be signs with the minute per mile, if not slower paces in back (10min/mile to walkers) and then fast in front (yea, crazy fast gonna win this race) The middle is the people usually around an 8-10 min/mile pace. Size up the crowd and figure out what is the best area for you to start. Everyone’s time starts when you cross the start line so there is no advantage for starting with the fast crowd, unless you want to get ran over. In all seriousness though, starting where one should is a important part of race day and seriously helps prevent injury and keeps the crowd moving. I will never forget starting in the 9 min/mile area for Nike Women’s DC only to have to pass and weave around walkers in mile 1 as well as a girl on crutches surrounded by two friends. It’s just not cool.
Once you are off, enjoy! Running is a great chance to see the world from a different viewpoint. Make sure if you need to pull over to walk you look behind you and move off to the side of the course to walk. Encourage others, make new friends and soak in the experience. If this is your first race, congrats! You will have a new PR (personal record) as soon as you cross the finish line! You can then record this PR and use it to gauge yourself as you better your best and run more races.
I hope this 101 was helpful, for all my seasoned running readers, do you guys have anything to add to a Running 101?