Running for the Non-Runner, T-Rex Runner
My name is Danielle and I blog over at The T-Rex Runner, where I document my quest to run a marathon in every state! I’m also a monthly columnist and featured blogger for Women’s Running magazine. I met Katie back at Fitbloggin’ 2013 when we became fast friends thanks to our mutual alma mater (Go Terps!) and the fact that we were both a little awkward and new to the conference. I was excited when she asked me to guest post because she and I have such completely different audiences and interests, but we both love fitness and FOOD!
I’ve recently started slooowwwly making my way into the world of strength training (Hello, Bodypump! Whatever, don’t laugh.) after avoiding it like the plague for the past few years. Just like I find Skinny Minnie Moves super helpful as I make my way into the world of weights, I thought I’d write a post for those of you who may be curious about running but aren’t entirely sure where to start – running for the non-runner, if you will.
First, you should know that I definitely was not a runner when I started running. In fact, I didn’t exercise at all! That made it pretty interesting when I finally got my butt off the couch one afternoon. Here are some things I wish I knew before I began!
- You’re running too fast. I promise. There’s something about the word “running” that makes us think that we have to sprint to make it count. Not only is that not true, it can actually be harmful when you first start running because you increase your risk of injury and also make the whole process feel harder than it needs to and thus more defeating. So, slooooooowwww down. As in, if you’re grooving along the Metallica on your runs right now, dial it back down to Marvin Gaye. You should be able to speak when you run. At the beginning, it might not be for very long, but short sentences are a must. If you can’t, you’re going too fast!
- Build up slower than you feel like you should. One of the biggest complaints among new runners is overuse injuries like shin splints. Because your cardio and respiratory systems adapt to the new activity more quickly than your bones and muscles do, you might feel like you can run forever after a few weeks (I promise, this is not as ridiculous as it sounds). Resist the urge! The average rule to increase your distance is no more than 10% of your mileage per week. So, if you’re running 10 miles a week right now, you can run 10% more next week – 1 more mile – for a total of 11 miles. It seems slow because it’s supposed to be! Trust me on this one – I ignored this rule and ended up with a stress fracture in my hip that took me out of running for 8 MONTHS.
- You won’t be last. And if you are, you might find that last is pretty awesome, too. I think everyone’s biggest fear before they enter a race is that they will be the last one to finish and everyone will laugh at them. I know that’s what I was worried about! The reality is that with the proliferation of people walking for fitness and entering races these days, you will almost certainly not be the last one across the line if you’re running at all. The good news is that even if you are last, last is pretty awesome too! Besides the fact that you have a huge accomplishment (finishing the race) to be proud of, many races will give a special award or prize to the last place finisher! I walked a half marathon with my best friend for her first half marathon, and we came in last. We got beautiful flowers and a gift certificate at the end, plus the same medal as everyone else! I’m just saying – last is not the worst thing that can happen.
And finally, if you’re totally unsure of where to begin with running, try a walk/run progression program like Couch to 5k (yes, there’s an app for that!). These types of programs will give you manageable goals and help you build up your mileage safely while making it fun and encouraging! I started running using that exact plan and I’ve run 44 marathons. You can do it too!
Oh, and just in case you haven’t already heard it a million times, go to a real running store and get fitted for a pair of running shoes – no, your Nike Shox do not count. Now get out there! See you on the roads!