Amongst the many accolades we can hand out to the year 2020, officially becoming a runner is at the top of my list (honorable mentions will be given to Asher eating a silicone loofa and you know that whole Covid thing). But alas I’ve been on this journey for quite a while now. I’ve walked a half marathon, done my fair share of 5ks and failed at completing Couch to 5k every single time I tried it. So how exactly did I get past my hot mess of a running past and finally embrace my new habit? Well that’s exactly what we’re going to talk about today. Get excited friends!
I’m dropping all my beginner running tips including how I finally sucked it up to start running, the best gear, what actually makes it easier to run and the ways I’ve learned to make it my own this year. Plus, I’m sharing how I’m transitioning with running this winter. PS. If you want to warm up and get a peek at my pre-run routine, be sure to check out tomorrow’s A Very Savvy Christmas video.
Beginner Running Tips
Learn Your Pace
I feel like the one thing that makes people think they can’t run is that they end up sprinting without meaning to and run out of gas. Kind of like a toddler (or me) who is SO excited about New Year’s Eve and then passes out before midnight, ya know? If you feel like you’re always dying or not really able to be consistent with a run, it’s likely that you aren’t truly pacing yourself.
There are a few ways to find your happy pace and build from there. But you’ll need to track your run. Whether this is with an apple watch, a running app or some other tool, you need to know how far you’ve gone and how long it takes. Personally, I like to use the Nike Run Club app as it also allows me to track which shoes I’m using per run. Or there’s the classic apple watch running setting that gets the job done too.
Learn Your Breath
Until I started running with a guide, I didn’t fully understand how to gauge my energy during a run. I always just did a little stretch, popped on some music and went. But it doesn’t really work like that if you want to be consistent. Taking the time to really tune into your breathing and your exertion will help you be consistent but also show you when you can push yourself. My fave guide is Olivia on Peloton.
Learn The Difference Between Pain and Discomfort
Many of us automatically assume that we need to be in pain to run successfully. And truth be told, you’ll fall into a groove. You almost have to talk yourself into your run until you’re so distracted it’s just like walking. It’s the mental hurdle that you need to get over to really become a runner. But along with the mental hurdle, sometimes running brings up physical ones too. Aka the pain spots that flare up with a run because your muscles are compensating for some weakness.
If you find you’ve landed in that category of consistent pain when you run (🙋♀️ ), then it might be time to seek some outside help. I worked with the team at Intuitive Choice to help me fine-tune my skills as I found I was consistently dealing with calf pain post-run. They showed me that the issues I was having were caused by a lack of strength in my glutes which caused loads of other muscles to overcompensate. With their help, I’ve seen a major difference. So don’t be afraid to seek out a Physical Therapist to help keep you safely on the road.
Cross Training Is Everything
One of my biggest original hurdles to becoming a runner was shin splints. I couldn’t work my way around them. No matter what I would do, I would end up in pain. But the thing about shin splints for me is that like previously noted: my body was compensating for strength I didn’t have. And once I started doing classes on the Peloton regularly, I started building up strength I didn’t know I needed.
Don’t make the mistake of assuming that more running will make you a better runner when what you need to do is add in strength/cross training. There are tons of way to do this depending on what works for you. But like many sports, running is one that requires lots of skills. So if you want to get better, you’re going to need diversify your training.
Do A Treadmill Run – Even If You Hate Them
As we’ve gotten into the winter months, I’ve started adding treadmill runs into my routine. My lungs are grateful for the reprieve of dryer weather. It also majorly helps with being consistent with daily workouts because I’m not having to adjust to the weather. But I digress. I know many people who run or try to run do it outside because the idea of treadmill running drives them crazy. I get it.
Nevertheless, it’s also majorly helpful when you’re learning your pace, looking to build up strength, or want a consistent form of training. Florida is known for many things (a lot of them not fabulous). But if you’ve ever tried to run with humidity, you’ll know it’s a bitch. Add in the wind coming off the water with varying speeds and you get the drift. It’s hard to be consistent when the constants aren’tt constant.
Treadmill runs give you a solid idea of how long you can stay at one pace without the added bonus of the outside elements. So even if you hate them and they seem like the worst idea ever, give them a try. And if you need the motivation/extra hand, see the next tip.
Make Running Classes Your Friend
It’s really easy to get into a comfortable rut/not progress with running because you’re stuck on the belief that you’re only so fast. Except you’re probably faster and have no clue: enter running classes. I use these most often when I travel or run new terrain because they are timed and tell me when to turn around. But I also use them to let someone else coach me and show me my weak spots.
Again, Peloton has my fave running classes. I’ve seen small but also major changes simply by swapping them into my routine. I’ve learned so much about form & my own speed levels but I’ve also found that they are great for showing me when I’m holding myself back. You don’t need to own the bike to take them. And the app is filled with loads of classes from all angles geared towards runners.
Do It For You
When I first started running, I had this idea of what it meant to be a runner. Of course, this meant I set a standard that I didn’t quite live up to and it took me a really long time to define what it meant for ME to be a runner. I.e. not always just going for long runs, being able to enjoy interval running, taking it at my own pace.
It’s not realistic or enjoyable for everyone to want to go for a 9-mile run all the time. And that’s okay. Learn to define running for you and what brings you joy. It doesn’t matter how you do the miles. It just matters that you do.
Savvy’s Beginner Running Essentials
The last thing I want to think about when I’m running is that I’m running. I find it much easier to just plug in my music and go. So I’ve created loads of playlists that help you do just that. Think of it like a mini coach but also a dance party. You can get all of the playlists here.
One of the things I’ve also discovered makes a major impact on whether or not I get shin splints: ankle support. If I don’t have it, I get them every time. This could be running, side jumps or anything where my ankles aren’t getting the back up they need. I’m currently testing out new shoe options but my tried and true are from Asics.
And to go with my fave running shoes, let’s add in my favorite running socks. They make SUCH a difference. When I don’t wear these, I find I notice my feet feel like they are burning after a while. These socks have the extra padding that makes it easier to go longer plus the tab in the back to protect my ankles.
I HATE running with things in my pockets or hands. I just feel off balance. And if it’s in my hand, I find I’ll end up with a stitch in my side. So to prevent all of the above from causing issues, I use a thin running belt that sits on my lower back. I can easily fit my phone in it as well as my car key. And it doesn’t move. Essential.
I’m sure there’s a proper name for them but these were essential for running this summer. I snagged several from Athleta that are typically used for surfing. So they were super lightweight, absorbed sweat well, and weren’t too much for a hot run. Plus, they mean I didn’t have to spend LOADS on sunscreen.
If you’re just starting out, Couch to 5k is a classic. But I definitely round that I hit that point where I didn’t want to just run anymore. Eventually, I switched over to the 1/2 marathon app which does intervals with the goal of getting you up to 13.1k. The runs are longer and each week builds on the idea that you’re getting faster. It’s my go-to for training right now.
When I’m not using distance training apps, I love the Peloton app for both their treadmill classes and outdoor runs. I tend to pick classes based on the music and my preferred instructors. But all of the above are great options that make running more exciting.
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