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:
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.