10 Things I Learned During My First 3 Years of Running

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1. It gets easier

I don't mean the runs themselves are always easy, but running gets easier. It's so much easier to lace up my shoes and head out now than it used to be when I first started. It still hurts when I do those tempo runs or long weekend runs, but in general, running really does get easier once you build up your initial mileage base. You don't feel like you're going to die after every run, just some of them.

2. I prefer morning runs to any other time of day

I've learned that it's just better for me and my schedule if I get up early and run. Yes, that 5:30 or 6:00 a.m. alarm sucks at first, but I never regret getting up for a morning run. For me it's actually easier to talk myself out of a 6:00 evening run than a 6:00 morning run.

If I go in the morning, it's done and out of the way. I feel so great the rest of the day from getting my heart pumping and legs moving, and I didn't take away from any normal "day" time. When I worked in an office full time, I noticed a huge difference in the amount of back and butt soreness when I ran before work and when I didn't.

3. My stomach can't handle much (or any) food before a run

I've read all these articles about what you are and aren't supposed to eat before a run, and they're all a load of crap. If I eat more than half a bowl of cereal, I have the runs five minutes into my run! (PUN INTENDED.) Sorry, Runner's World, but I'm not eating 1,000 calories before I get out there. No, sir. I can handle maybe a single glass of water and a half bagel with nothing on it (not even butter). And that's it.

All that is to say, over the past 3 years I've figured out how my body works and what it likes. Articles and advice are great, but at the end of the day you just have to do what works best for you. There isn't necessarily a right or wrong way to prepare for a run.

4. Runners are nice

Yes, there's always the occasional jerk, but for the most part runners are the nicest group of people you will ever meet. Everyone is so encouraging, no matter your pace or distance. You don't have to be scared of running or jogging or run/walking or whatever you have to do! At the end of the race, you'll cross the finish line just like everyone else, and you will feel amazing and encouraged and loved by the running community.

5. You cannot underestimate the power of a good pair of shoes

Running shoes are freaking expensive, hence the reason I don't go shopping anymore. But a good pair of running shoes is so important to the health of your entire body. I can tell when I need new shoes because I get blisters on my toes, and my knees start hurting. A new pair of shoes makes that all go away! It's fantastic. If you're going to skimp on something, don't skimp on shoes.

*Don't skimp on socks either. Socks are important so you don't get horrible blisters. In this post I talk about my favorite pair of running socks, which have never given me a blister, even during my marathon. (I'm not promising that they won't give you a blister; I'm just saying they've never given me one.)

6. It's not as scary as it sounds

When I signed up for my first half marathon, I was Freaking Out. I'd never run farther than 5 miles, and 13.1 sounded like pure insanity! I don't mean to take anything away from racing when I say this, but it really isn't as scary as it sounds.

Now that I've run my marathon, 10 miles doesn't even seem that long! Crazy, right? I don't say that to brag but to tell you that when you have a base of 2-3 miles, all you do is add 1 more. Just 1 more mile than you did last week. Then 1 more. All of the sudden, you're running 16 miles without even giving it another thought. I'm serious!

That's why I truly believe that anyone can run. Because it's not as scary as it sounds.

7. Sometimes it's more fun to run with someone

I do a lot of running by myself, and that's great. I love my alone runs (most of the time). I get really introspective about life, and then I come back here and write a blog post about it, which I know you guys love. But if you can find a running partner, it makes everything so much better. The miles seem to fly by because you're talking or pacing each other or whatever else. It's hard to find someone you like who also runs at your pace, but if you can, it can make your runs lots of fun.

8. Buy a subscription to Runner's World magazine

They didn't pay me to say this or anything; I just love Runner's World! It's such a fun magazine to read, and it's full of race ideas and running tips and letters from readers. I always love getting my new Runner's World in the mail. I only recently signed up in March of this year, and I so wish I would have been getting the magazine all along.

9. You don't have to be fast or skinny to be a runner

There are so many amazing runners out there who run crazy times. Their "slow runs" are at 6:00 pace or something equally as insane. These girls have long, skinny legs and fly down the road so fast they look like a blur. And I'm totally okay with that. Yes, it would be fun to be really fast, but I am completely proud of my running pace and abilities.

Over the past year and a half I've brought down my average pace by a full minute/mile! It took me 4 tries, but I finally ran a sub 2-hour half marathon, and when I crossed the finish line, I burst into tears. You would have thought I'd won the whole thing from the way I was acting.

You don't have to be fast or skinny or whatever else to call yourself a runner. Do you run? Then you ARE a runner. (For more on that, read: Running Advice for Non Runners and Doing the Impossible: My Favorite Posts on Running)

10. You don't have to run if you don't want to

Once you start running, you'll start to find people who run. Makes sense, right? These people will be what I like to call "hardcore" runners. These people run fast, and they run all the time. And when they don't run, they make excuses and rationalize why they didn't go running.

I think that is total crap.

Sometimes, I just don't want to go running. It's hot or rainy or cold. Or maybe it's a perfect day outside, but I just want to sit on the couch and catch up on my blog or read a book. Doing this all the time just means you're lazy; but once in a while, it can be good to take a mental health rest day from running. Don't feel bad about it or compare yourself to that girl you know who ran 15 miles that morning. Make a running schedule that works for YOU, and don't get all worked up about skipping a run every now and again. It happens. This is real life, and you're not superwoman.

So that's it! I obviously have more than ten things I learned, but those are the first ones I thought of.

*Follow my Fitness board on Pinterest for more articles, tips, and tricks*

Do you have anything to add?

What is one thing you've learned since you started running?

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