10 Tips For New Runners AND A GIVEAWAY!!!

10 Tips for New Runners & A GIVEAWAY!!!

Good morning, Heifers! It’s…wait for it….sunny and hot here in Phoenix. I know. Shocking.

I recently posted an article I’ve wanted to write for a long time. It’s about what I’d tell myself as a new runner, after I’ve gotten some miles logged and a few years of running under my belt. I won’t lie: it gets emotional at times. There are days when, post-run or workout, I still can’t believe I just got through 10 miles or a serious set of lunges and squats. I hate lunges and squats.

There are days when I look in the mirror and still see the Melissa of five years ago, with the extra weight, ready to dial for another pizza delivery.  Most days, though, I’m just grateful that I’ve been through the process of changing my habits and starting a running practice that keeps me fit and healthy. 

Today, however, let’s talk about the nuts and bolts of starting a new running program. This isn’t about feelings as much as tips for avoiding injury, keeping up momentum and avoiding common mistakes. Believe me: we’ve all been there. From chub-rub to post-workout fuel, this list will get you started and keep you humming.  

The BEST PART?!?!? At the end…there’s a GIVEAWAY!!!

I know. I know.


Without further adieu (my kids bet me I couldn’t work that into an article)…here are my Top 10 Tips for New Runners:

  1. Start slow – this isn’t a marathon (yet) or even a 5k. This is just you and the pavement (or treadmill). All you have to do is start. You don’t even need a goal any bigger than run around the block. When you start slow, you give your body time to adjust and you avoid overtraining and injuries, which can derail you for good.  

  2. Review Technique – I’m not saying you have to do a thesis on how to run properly, but read a few articles or watch some YouTube videos on proper form and technique. My favorite? Chi Running. Seriously. It’s worth the investment. Once you know how to run properly, you can start off on the right foot. Plus, you’ll also avoid having to replace bad habits with good ones later. We all know how it goes, old dogs and new tricks. It's ruff.

  3. Stretch – I warm up before I start, and I stretch after I run. Stretching is as much a part of the run as the actual movement. It keeps your muscles and tendons elastic, which just means you don’t get all tight and bunched up, which is a major cause of injury.

  4. Pre-Run Fuel – what you eat before and after a run matters. Before you run, you want to fuel your body by giving it stable energy. This means you want a mix of carbs, protein and fat to keep your blood sugar stable and to give you energy for a few hours rather than thirty minutes. So, donuts are no good. But a hard-boiled egg and some fruit works. Or a string cheese and a handful of nuts can give you energy and fat, which is slower to digest and keeps you full longer. Just be sure your carbs are healthy carbs that don’t run through your system too quickly like refined carbs. Think whole wheat instead of white and healthy fats like nuts. A small smoothie is a great option, too.  Test out what works and you'll be good to go! It takes some trial and error, but that's ok!

  5. Post-Run Fuel: Equally important to pre-run fuel is what you put into your body after your run. You want to help your muscles repair themselves and to keep your blood sugar humming along. You don’t want to binge eat junk food after a run, thinking you burned enough calories for a slice of cake or a chicken-fried-steak, unless you’re a Texan. Then you can always eat a chicken-fried-steak. Seriously, though, post-run fuel is all about repairing, restoring and replenishing, so eat more protein and healthy carbs and stay away from junk. New runners often think running isn’t helping them get fit because they simply eat too much. Keep your post-run fuel reasonable and focus on what you’re doing for your body rather than rewarding yourself for moving. My personal favorite is Chocolate Milk. Good old fashioned Hershey's chocolate milk.  

  6. Reward Yourself – I know. I just said you shouldn’t reward yourself, but what I mean is: don’t reward yourself with food! But definitely, give yourself mad props for getting out there and getting it done. Celebrate all of your healthy victories, even if they’re small to start. Don’t wait until a finish line or certain number on the scale or any other arbitrary measure to feel good.  Celebrate every single time you get out there. Give yourself all those good vibes, and you’ll associate running and fitness with positive energy rather than that feeling of gutting it out.  

  7. Cheat Chafing – Before you head out and run a mile or two, think a little about an issue we all have but nobody likes to talk about: chub-rub. I know, the politically correct term is chafing. No matter what you call it, it burns and sucks to get home only to realize the flesh on your inner thighs is rubbed raw from a few miles in the AZ heat.  How can you deal with this? Think about wearing underwear that fits more like shorts, wear tighter shorts instead of loose ones or even get some Body Glide. Seriously. It’s a thing.  There are several options including gels, bars and even powders. Heifers, it helps.  

  8. Invest in Shoes – One of the best parts of running is that it can be simple, cheap and pretty minimalist. You need a space to run, time to do it and a pair of shoes. I mean, some people even run barefoot, but I’m not there yet. Where I am at is realizing that investing in shoes that fit is totally worth it. I shop with people who can assess my posture and foot position and give me advice on the best shoes for me. I can’t tell you what a difference it makes on my knees, joints and just overall performance. If you’re going to spend money on this sport, start where it counts: with shoes. You can afford all of the other gear later if you still want it.

  9. Ride the Wave – When we all start anything new, there is a typical pattern of ups and downs. You start out all gung-ho and feeling like your life is pretty much going to change…for-evaaaaaah.  Then, you get sick or injured or sore. Then you want to quit. I have been there! When we’re starting something new, it’s easy to be excited. What matters is what we do when that excitement wears off. We’re facing the same run, but this time we want to drop back onto the sofa or convince ourselves it’s DANGEROUSLY UNSAFE to run in a drizzle. Be aware of this cycle and ride it out. Run when you don’t want to run. Run when you’d rather watch I Love Lucy reruns.  Run when it’s exciting and run when it’s not. That’s how you develop a practice. That’s how you get better. That’s how you keep going.

  10. Track it – This, Heifers, is a big one. Track your progress and your success! Keep track of the days you run, the miles you log, the steps you take, the weight you lose and the increases you make in your lung capacity and overall fitness.  TRACK IT! It feels great to see the numbers. It feels great to know that you’re keeping up with your own progress. It feels great to know that you have some motivation staring you right in the face before a run and then cold, hard numbers when you’re done. Tracking your progress also helps you see patterns and make adjustments, which are both key to building up your running discipline and avoiding injury.

So……..in light of how excited I am that so many Heifers are joining #theHerd and so many new runners are taking up a sport I love…..I am GIVING AWAY one of my favorite running tools ever: a FITBIT!!!



You can use this to track all sorts of nifty things like sleep and steps and probably a lot more that I’m too technically-challenged to understand.

Seriously, though, I love my FitBit and wear it every single day, for every single run. I love nothing more than seeing the fact that I got out there and hustled through 10k steps before noon! And there are days when I look at the numbers and think: get moooving, Melissa. Make it happen.

So, I’m excited to be giving away a brand-new FitBit to one lucky Heifer!

All you have to do is leave a comment below (200 characters MAX) saying WHY YOU NEED THIS FITBIT! Creativity counts, so get your creative juices flowin'!

One entry per person. Everyone who leaves a comment is automatically entered into the GIVEAWAY.

The winner will be chosen randomly and announced on August 20th.

That’s it. I like it clean and simple, Heifers.  I can’t wait to hear from you.

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LUVO - Be Good To You - Frozen "Steamazing" Meals To Go!

Raise your hand if you're busy.

(raises both hands, waves them in the air like I just don't care.....)

Yep. That's right, heifers.  I'm busy. I've got four (4!!) teenagers and 2 crazy dogs plus a traveling husband.  I'm busier than a one-armed paper hanger (no one-armed paper hangers were hurt in the making of this blog post, and this is intended as a joke and not in any way to harm, make fun of, or deface any one-armed paper hangers).

Ok.. now that we've gotten that out of the way, I want to talk to y'all about one of my FAAAAVORITE subjects. Foooooooood. I mean, you know that.  Unless you're new, but even if you're new to the HeiferHood, you gotta figure with a blog called Run, Heifer, Run.... this heifer likes some foooood.

Enter LUVO, stage right.  

I was super excited to learn that several of my local grocery stores carried the meals, although it was a pretty disappointing selection.  Regardless, I headed down to the local neighborherd market and picked up some "Wholesome, Delicious Meals Made from REAL Ingredients!"

Y'all know I like to eat healthy so I was pretty stoked to sit down and get my MOO on.

$4.99... not bad for a wholesome meal, I have to say.  I only had four options to choose, so I got them all.

$4.99... not bad for a wholesome meal, I have to say.  I only had four options to choose, so I got them all.

LIke I said - disappointing selection, but whatevs. You know me, I can't complain. 

Have you heard of LUVO before? I hadn't. Let's talk about them for a moment.  Here's a great blog post that's a MUST-READ from Luvo CEO, Christine Day about how the company is helping the country make healthier food choices with their 3-2-none promise. Did you know that 78% of the population are considered overweight or obese?  I mean, yeah, I knew it was high, but that high?? HOLY HEIFERS! That's high.

Anymoo, let's moooove on, shall we? Here's a couple visuals on the meals.  Enjoy. They all smelled great while cooking - so much so that four teenagers came out of their bedroom caves all wondering, "Hey mom, what are you cooking?" That's pretty impressive.  Most of the time they only come out to charge their iThings and complain that my television show is "Too LOUUUUUUD" for them. So this was impressive.  I digress.  Some pics:

My favorite of the 4 I tried

My favorite of the 4 I tried

Chicken Chile Verde

Chicken Chile Verde

Kale ravioli

Kale ravioli

Ok now that you've seen the food, let's talk about the process. I was a little surprised when I opened the box to find a brown sac that you place on the microwaveable plate.  The food steams inside the bag, which is kind of genius. GENIUS I say. 

Here's what it looks like when it's done. 

It gets all puffed up.

It gets all puffed up.

A word of caution to the LUVO newbie here. This stuff is HOT. I'm talkin'.... hotter than a heifer in a field on a summer day.  HOT.  Proceed with caution, says she who was burned upon opening.  Just trust me.  Use scissors to CAREFULLY open that pouch of steamy healthiness.

It kind of slides out onto your plate in one fell swoop.  Mine never slid out looking nearly as nice as those box-pics... but whatever.  The food kind of slid out with one big 'THUD' onto my plate, but that's ok. I was hungry. I'm always hungry, who are we kidding. Moo.

Let's talk taste. My favorite was the Turkey Meatloaf and Mashed Potatoes, followed closely by the Chicken Chile Verde. Here's the nutritional breakdown on the CCV:

"Disclaimer: I received Luvo to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!"

"Disclaimer: I received Luvo to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!"

What I love about this meal: the high protein. and the calorie count.  It's only 300 calories (we're still talking about Chicken Chile Verde in case you're wondering) ... and has 25g of protein. That is awesome. It's low-cal too which this heifer really loves.  It's quite a bit higher in sodium than anything I ever eat, and I could definitely taste that when I was enjoying it.  The fat is super-low too which is a great achievement.

If you're counting carbs as many people are these days - I found all the meals, particularly the Kale Ravioli, to be pretty loaded up with carbs (and sodium), which I try to keep on the lower-side. But that's just me.  

The taste on all four meals I tried was hearty. I was DEFINITELY satisfied after eating the meals, and I have to say, it was kind of fun to watch the pouches puff up in the microwave (and yes I need a life, stop saying it to yourself! ialreadyknowthat

If you're looking for some quick, healthy meals on the go - I really think you should give LUVO a try.

Find them on social media here: 
Twitter: @luvoinc
FB: https://www.facebook.com/luvoinc/
IG: @luvoinc

You can find a comprehensive list of their meals HERE as well.

All in all, great HEALTHY meals when you're on the go.  Try them out and chime in below to let me know what you think! 

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What I'd Say To My Newbie-Runner-Self

Four Years Later: What I’d Say to my Newbie-Runner-Self

Five years ago, I was morbidly obese, sedentary and ignoring the health crisis sitting in my lap. Maybe I ignored it because it was my lap, but either way, I washed away whatever feelings I had with Mountain Dew and made excuses for another round of chips and salsa, all the while telling myself I wasn’t that fat or I didn’t need exercise to be a fit person or I was just another Monday away from cleaning it all up.

Heifers, you know my story.

I started eating better and then joined Jenny Craig, which gave me the consistency, structure and accountability I needed at that time to keep me going with healthier choices.

And yanno, they liked me a little so they put me in their commercials!

And yanno, they liked me a little so they put me in their commercials!

A year later, I laced up a pair of sneakers (they weren’t even legit running shoes) and went for a run.

You can imagine how that went over. It wasn’t a glorious triumph of grace and dignity. It wasn’t smooth soles rolling over the pavement, one gliding step at a time. I didn’t lift my chin to the sun, close my eyes and feel empowered.

Ummmm, NO.

Ummmm, NO.

Heifers, I struggled.  I’m pretty sure my kids could have walked beside me and still beat my pace that day. My feet thudded against the pavement, one resounding blow at a time. I hung my head, my cheeks flaming red and aware that anyone watching me could see what was going on: a former fat girl was trying to get in shape and didn’t know what the hell she was doing….blessherheart.  

I won’t lie to you and say I found some spiritual self who didn’t care about any of these struggles, who wasn’t embarrassed by my own body or who didn’t feel defeated that day. I wish I could. The fact is, I got home from that run and felt pathetic. Who did I think I was? Did I really think I could just go outside, with a pair of shoes, and run?

People train for this. People start this when they were teenagers not when they were middle-aged mothers of four. People had bodies built for this, and mine clearly wasn’t one of them. Mine was built for bonbons on the couch.  

The next day, though, like Britney Spears, I did it again. I got up, put on my shoes and went outside. It wasn’t easier. I wasn’t any better. That first run didn’t set off some special fireworks inside of me that magically turned me into an athlete after 40 years of surfing nothing but the couch or the web. Nope. I was still at square one but I was at least on Day 2, and that was further than I’d gotten before.

After a while, I worked my way up to running longer than the length of a few houses. It took some time. It wasn’t easy. Then it was a whole row of houses. Then it was a few streets. Then I got new shoes, and my feet and knees thanked me. Then I felt confident enough to buy running pants.  A few weeks later, I actually wore those running pants. In public.

Along the road (literally), I learned a few things, and with four years of running behind me, I have some perspective on the whole process. I think back sometimes to that first run, the day I became a runner, the moment I chose to move my body instead of plop it down in front of the computer or back on the sofa. I think about the woman I was then, and there is a lot I’d say to her. Forty-eight months later, I’d like to run up alongside the woman I was that day and give her some advice.

What would I say?  I'm glad you asked.

I’d start with this: every step is an achievement.  Every. Single. Step. You may not feel like a badass runner out here today, with your old tennis shoes, ratty sweatpants and stretched out tank top. You may feel, every time you have to slow down or walk, like a failure, but I am here to tell you: you are killing it! The hardest part of life, of any achievement, adventure, struggle or goal, is showing up. The hardest part is right before you start. And look at you…you started!

Every time you take a step, whether it’s a slow step or a fast step or a walking step or a jogging step, you’re achieving something greater than you did a yesterday or an hour ago or even a minute ago. Every single step matters, and you should celebrate them, even if they add up to a tiny amount, even if you only have to use one hand. Tomorrow will be two hands and then fingers and toes and then you’ll stop counting at all. But every step matters, so string them all together, add them up and celebrate this moment, one step at a time.

I’d also point out that nobody is judging you, and if they are, they’re assholes. But mostly, people are just driving past you and thinking: man…I should have enough energy to get my butt out there and workout, too! Or, I wish I could run. Or, look at her…she’s out there doing it. Or, and here is the #NoBull truth, people aren’t thinking about you at all.

I’m not trying to be mean, but most people driving by are thinking about their appointment or boyfriend or kids or vacation or a million other things people think about as they cruise through the neighborherd.  It’s not that they don’t care that you’re out there gutting it out in a Phoenix summer. It’s that they care a little more about their own stuff, as they should.

So don’t worry about what people are thinking when they see you huffing down the street or stopping mid-way down a block. Most likely, they’re either admiring your effort or, probably, not even thinking about you at all.  Either way, it has nothing to do with you because you’re not running to impress anyone and their opinion isn’t what drives you.

You don’t set goals for anyone but yourself. So put on your headphones, press play on your favorite song and get in the zone. Nobody is judging you, and even if they do, it doesn’t affect your run.  

I’d also tell new-runner-me that it gets easier AND better. In fact, after about six months, it gets fun. After your chest stops burning and you learn how to breathe, it’s not such an effort. Once you learn proper form, your knees don’t take such a beating. Once you get the right shoes, your ankles and shins don’t ache. Once you lose another twenty pounds, the whole process is easier and suddenly you’re out looking for new, cool outfits to wear to a race and signing up for a 10k.

You never imagine you can jog a few blocks, but over time, you will. Then, a few blocks will be your warm up. You’ll hit a point when it’s hard work but it’s not miserable hard work. You’ll hit your stride. The key here is to know when you’ve hit your stride and not try to compare it to someone else, whether that’s your running partner, the twenty-year-old  kid who just lapped you (again) or a fitness model in a magazine. You’ll learn, with time and a lot of miles under your belt, what your own personal zone is, and when you get there, you will feel it.  It gets easier. It gets better. And it’s totally worth it.

I’d also say that every time you log a run, you show yourself and the people around you love. Not a love of being thin or a love of being perfect. It’s not a love for the sport of running or triathlons. What you do when you take care of yourself and work hard to develop a better you is show the people around you that you love yourself.

You aren’t sitting on the sidelines waiting for someone else to validate you into taking action. Every time you do something hard, that’s a struggle, that challenges you, you change. It doesn’t even matter if you succeed by someone else’s terms or definition: just the fact that you’re out there doing it means you’ve already succeeded. There is no measure of success greater than loving yourself and taking care of you. You set the tone and example for your kids. You let people know, every time you workout, how you feel about yourself and expect to be treated. You don’t even have to say a thing; the message is loud and clear.

Finally, I’d tell the newbie in me: you’re brave. You. Are. Brave. Losing weight and changing your life isn’t easy. Our society seems to swing between airbrushed models on one hand and 40-year-old housewives who can polish off an entire pizza on the other. Sometimes, it’s easy to forget that healthy is somewhere in the middle. It’s easy to hide behind the idea that before you can get outside and run in front of God and the world, you have to be a particular weight or have achieved a certain fitness level. It’s easy to talk yourself out of even trying, and it’s even easier to come home from that first run and vow to never do it again, the shame of your sweating, panting body overshadowing your desire to be fit. The coward in you whispers all sorts of negativity about the size of your thighs or boobs or stomach.

But every day, every run, every stride is you being brave. It’s you turning down the volume on everyone who ever expected less, even you – especially you. Don’t discount what you’re doing as some everyday exercise that millions of other people do. Appreciate how much courage it takes to get out there, extra weight and years of body shame behind you, and hold your head high and get it done. You. Are. Brave.    

In the end, the mechanics of running can be taught; the details don’t matter nearly as much as the motivation behind them and the heart it takes to not just start a running program but to stick with it.  

I want to tell every single new runner out there, especially the ones who have tried in the past and failed and are ready to try again: YOU CAN DO THIS!! What you’re doing is truly amazing. What you’re committing to is the best thing in the world: your own health and happiness.  The pacing will come. You’ll get the right shoes. You’ll find your race crew and celebrate victory laps. But most importantly, you will challenge yourself and change yourself. Running is just your vehicle to get there.

So send us your running pics, tell us your stories and join The Herd of runners who may not fit into XXS LuLuLemon pants but who are out there doing it anyway!