The Basics (Getting Started from Ground Zero)

Since I am a pretty new runner and went from not running at all to running a half marathon, I have gotten lots of questions about how to do just that. So, I've decided to start a little series called So, you want to be a runner, huh? In this first post I will talk about how to get started. I'll also be posting soon about other topics that I wish I had known more about when I first started such as what to wear, what to eat, injuries, etc. So, here we go!

First, I think an important thing to know is that running is not for everyone. You may try it and it and absolutely hate it, and that's okay. Or you may love it. Just know that if you do want to really become a RUNNER, it will take hard work and dedication, it won't happen over night. And even if you do love it, there will be days that you hate it and don't want to go run, or days that you go run and have a horrible run and that's okay too.

ALSO, it is a good idea to consult a physician before starting any type of exercise. Just saying. {I'm pretty sure I have to say stuff like that for legal purposes, right?}

Okay, on to the advice!

1. Get a good pair of RUNNING shoes!

This is probably THE most important thing. If you really want to be a runner, you need EXCELLENT shoes. Be prepared to spend anywhere from $75-$200 on good shoes. I first started running in some old tennis shoes {because I didn't know any better} and got blisters the first day and my feet were so SORE. It was horrible and almost made me want to give up. I would suggest not ordering your shoes online - go to a running shoe store and they will help you pick out the right kind of shoes for your feet. Everyone has different feet and everyone runs differently. They will watch you run and help you pick out the best pair of shoes specifically for you. It seriously makes all the difference!
This is the pair I have. They're ASICS Gel-Cumulus 11. Apparently now there's a Cumulus 12, but the 11's are still available on Amazon. I got them at a local running store called Pacers and Racers. We like to support the little mom & pop shops when we can :) Otherwise, I'd recommend going somewhere like Fleet Feet. You probably have one near you.

They watched me run in the parking lot to determine the pronation of my feet... I'm not exactly sure what that means, but that's why I let the experts help me and probably why you shouldn't just go randomly pick out running shoes either ;-)

2. Make a goal and follow a plan.

finish line!

My first goal was to be able to run a 5k {3.1 miles}. I got inspired to start running at one of Josh's half marathons, and I knew I wanted to run a half marathon one day but you can't really go from running 0 to running 13.1 miles, so I started with a 5k and went from there. Baby steps, people.

Plus, if I had not had that goal, no way would I have stuck with running. It is hard and you will probably want to give up at least I did. It felt impossible and it seemed like the end goal was totally unreachable. Doing a 5K first gave me motivation to keep with it, even when it got hard, and helped me to celebrate the little victories instead of having a daunting task like trying to run a half marathon right away. Completing my first 5K was a day I'll never forget!

I think a 5K is a good first goal. It's relatively easy for anyone of any background to train for a 5K, and it's a good base that you can build on later if you have the desire to run longer distances. I used an adapted version of this training program to run my first 5K. There's also the C25K program that I originally used and while it didn't work for me personally, I know several people who have done it successfully including my running buddy Erica who also ran the Derby half marathon! These are both great for beginners!

I would suggest going ahead and signing up for a race because committing to it will help keep you motivated when it gets tough! Search for 5k's in your area! If you're local I can send you a list of races coming up this year.

3. Start off slow. EVERYONE warned me about this when I started running. They said, "Don't start off doing too much too fast. That's common with new runners, but you'll get hurt!" And not that I let that advice go in one ear and out the other, but I still wasn't sure if I even liked running, it was still hard for me to even pull through 1 or 2 miles, NO WAY was there a chance that I would start off trying to do too much. If anything, I would start off way too slow and not advance at all. Or so I thought.

It quickly became addicting. Once I built up a few base miles, I kept wanting to push myself to see what I was really capable of. One day I ran about 3 miles STRAIGHT, all BY MYSELF and I was so proud! Then that evening Josh asked me if I wanted to go run 2.5 with him...SURE! So we did and it was so much fun! I went from running maybe 6 or 7 miles a week, to running 5 or 6 a day and guess what?! I got hurt! I was out for almost a month! And let me tell you, that stinks!

So the best thing to do is don't push yourself too hard! Your body needs time to adjust to the impact of running and REST is just as important as training. You need to rest at least a day in between each run and rule of thumb is never increase your weekly mileage by more than 10%. So, for example, if you're running 10 miles a week, the next week you shouldn't increase your total by more than 1 mile.

4. Stretch after each run! It's so easy to forget, but so important. It will help with injury prevention!! Go here to see some great stretches for after your runs!

5. Find some support. Not everyone "gets" running. I had several people tell me "how bad" running is for me and that I shouldn't do it. When you tell someone who doesn't "get it" about how sore you are from your run, they will probably tell you that you should just quit then, right? It's bad for your knees, they'll say. And yes, running is a very physically demanding sport, but it also has tons of benefits. I have never felt healthier or happier since I started running! And not only has running changed me physically, it has changed me mentally. I now believe in myself so much more than I ever did because I never thought I could do anything like this! It has shown me what I can achieve when I don't give up. I have also met so many people through running that I never would have known {like Erica!}.

I could NOT have gotten this far if it weren't for the support of my friends and family. If your immediate family doesn't "get" running or will just give you a hard time about it, my advice would be to join a local running group to make friends with other runners. I know it can be scary but trust me, it will definitely be worth it! I didn't immediately join a running group, but once I did it really did make a world of difference! It's SO helpful to have other people who are in the same boat as you and will totally understand everything you're going through! They also make those runs a lot more fun!

I would also suggest creating a blog and join the running community online. I have made several friends with runners online, and while I don't know them personally and I can't actually run with them, I have learned just as much from them as I have my real life running friends! It's inspiring to read other people's stories and learn from their experiences as well. This isn't totally necessary, but it has helped me out a ton! It's also been helpful to write down things about your training/runs so you can look back on them later and see how far you've come. Trust me, that is really cool to see!!

So just to re-cap. GET GOOD RUNNING SHOES. Make a goal, then follow a plan! Don't start off doing too much. REST. And make sure you have some support!

Also, I think this is just as important to remember: HAVE FUN!!! Running should be fun! Yes, it's difficult but it should be fun! If you get burnt out and it's no longer fun, take a break.

Okay, one more thing. DON'T COMPARE YOURSELF TO OTHER RUNNERS. It took me forever to learn this, but trust me, running will be so much more enjoyable when you run for YOU and no one else. I am a brand new runner, but all the runners that I'm around all the time are super fast and have been running for years. I was constantly disappointed with myself because even though I would do a 5k - which was a great accomplishment! - I did it 10 minutes slower than everyone else. While all my friends were out running 10+ miles at a time, I could barely do 3. My speed work was slower than Josh's warm up run. I finally realized that all of this is OKAY. I'm brand new and they have been doing this stuff for years. I'll get there eventually... and so will you. As long as you're having fun and making progress, you're doing great! Don't worry about what anyone else is doing! Everyone is different!

That should get you started!

Happy Running!