Every fall around this time, people in cities big and small stumble upon (or plan a day of drinking around) a marathon.
Every year, in the midst of a mimosa-induced haze or during a frustrating detour to get home because a race course closed a street, long after the caffeine of morning coffee wears off, people get their own little boosts of adrenaline and their eyes widen and they declare “I’M going to do that too!”
I’m already a runner and I even become that person on marathon day.
I’m an equal opportunity obsessor, actually. Watching 5K runners? I WANT A 5K PR. Cyclists? I’M SIGNING UP FOR A CENTURY RIDE IMMEDIATELY. The empowerment that comes from seeing other people perform is addictive. Every marathon I’ve watched has made me want to sign up for my next race instantly.
I love it. I especially love when “new” people get inspired to start training.
They start running.
They start triathlon-ing.
The “next batch” always makes me feel envy and excitement because there’s so much promise and so much to learn. It’s that thrill, you know? The kind that only comes when you hit the nail on the head and find that one thing you feel you were meant to do.
The excitement that causes fluttery little butterflies to flap around in your stomach.
The obsession you think about when you go to sleep and wake up and all day in between.
That’s how I am, at least. Training consumes my life in the weeks leading up to big races and I love every terrifying second of it. You’re simultaneously scared but not exactly sure what there is to be scared about. There are unknowns that give you a little jolt of adrenaline. You feel like you’re really truly a part of something, something you haven’t felt since high school or maybe ever.
There are a lot of little moments I live for in running. When I suddenly realize I’m doing it, I accomplished it, and I find myself saying to others “if I can do it, you can do it, too”. When I feel like the strongest, most confident version of myself.
For beginner runners and those of us who might need to get back to the basics, here are some of my favorite tips so you can feel this too:
Be kind to yourself.
Don’t compare yourself to any other people or even yourself at a different point in time. Take steps from the point you’re at NOW. This one is most important to me because it’s easy to let discouragement take over.
Comparison is the thief of joy. -Theodore Roosevelt
Don’t let intimidation prevent you from starting.
Runners are welcoming. (I mean, this is a pretty general statement. I can’t speak for all of humankind so if you meet a rude runner DON’T YELL AT ME.) My point is, don’t be scared to go to a group run or join a team. If it sucks, it sucks. You’ll be fine. If it’s awesome, it can be life-changing. When I joined Team In Training and got over my fear that I’d be the last one or I’d suck or whatever other bullshit excuse I told myself to rationalize not going to group runs, I grew 1,000% and became a better runner (and made fantastic friends). Sometimes you might be last. That’s FINE. Stop caring about it.
Get new running shoes.
Avoid those shoes you’ve had for 10 years if you can. Just thinking about running in old shoes hurts my shins. If you can, go to a running store and have them recommend a style of shoes. Too expensive? I hear you girl. Go find that style on Amazon or Poshmark or find a less expensive version. Invest in taking care of yourself early, because prevention is my favorite way to…prevent…stuff. (I’m a wizard with words.) In my experience, a good pair of running shoes can make or break your run. (I’m currently in love with the Hoka Cliftons.)
You’re not going to be 100% every day. You’ll feel sick or too tired or just plain over it, and that’s okay. Other days you’ll feel 100% but water starts pouring out from the bottom of your toilet or someone breaks a window at work and you’re in charge of getting it replaced or you have to take your computer to fixed (yes, if you’re wondering, all of these things happened to me this week, the first two in one day, WTF) and BOOM, training out the window for that day. A coach once told me that if you do 80% of what a training plan says, you’re in good shape. Life isn’t perfect and that’s how we get stronger. The cirrrrcle of lifeeee!
If you want to start running but can’t make it to the next stoplight, that’s not an excuse to never start. Tell your ego to get the hell out of here and do what you need to do to slowly add more running in. There’s beauty in these unexpected moments, when you realize you just ran through two stoplights or ran a mile or finished your first marathon. Run for those beautiful, surprising moments because, I promise you, they will come.
If you need a little inspiration to just do it, WHATEVER “it” is for you, this video (totally unrelated to running) might help. Her lawnmower story actually made me tear up.
Do what works for you.
Let me use carbs as an example. It seems like the first nutrition-based racing question from new runners is always carb related. (Umm probably because they’re the best.) I’m not an RD, but in my experience, I really don’t need extra carbs to prepare for most activities. I mean, you need them in life to function and stuff. (<—Science) But my Ironman coach even argued that you don’t even need* to carb-load for a marathon. *Need, not to be confused with want. I love bread and pasta and think life would be sad without these little bundles of happiness. But if you’re forcing them down or going out of your way to that little Italian place with the horrible parking because you think you’ll have some kind of energetic edge in your 5K, or you always feel heavy and tired the day after a big carby meal, maybe you should reconsider. (Bring me back some garlic bread if you go, though.) All this carb talk brings me to the most important tip of all – do what works for YOU. There are a lot of tips and advice floating around. Some of it may seem absolutely necessary or incredibly important just because you hear about it a lot…but it still might not be the best course of action for YOU. Trial and error and common sense will help you figure it out.
What tips do you have for runners? What helped you start or re-start? Who’s your baseball team?!