If you follow me anywhere in the internet lately then you’ll have noticed that I’ve been running a lot more.
DO NOT WORRY! This will never be a running blog. I am the very LAST person you should ever turn to for running advice because my plan failed at step 1 which was: Go outside and put one foot in front of the other in a fast motion till you want to throw up then stop.
I made pretty much every single rookie mistake there is to make even though I have a living Running Dictionary sleeping in bed next to me every night. This is a pretty big difference between Ben and I. He decides he’s going to do Something then sets about reading every single piece of information that he can get about Something. As a result, he learns from the mistakes of others before he makes them. I generally decided that I am going to do Something then I do it and make ALL THE MISTAKES along the way and then Ben tells me how he warned me about those mistakes before I made them and I nod and agree then jump head first into my next big Something.
Some people are readers, some are jumpers. Admittedly, the jumpers end up learning in more painful ways but we also give the readers something to read about. The world needs both but there have been a LOT of situations where I wish I was a reader!
So if you are a reader and not a jumper I’m going to list my mistakes here and if you choose to, you can avoid the painful landing by taking some of my VERY AMATEUR advice.
Mistake 1: I started out on a pair of shoes that felt comfortable in the store and were pretty and on sale.
Result: Shin splints so bad I had trouble walking for three days after running less than a mile total and soles that felt like they were bruised after every run.
Learn From My Mistake: Go get professionally fitted for a pair of running shoes and be okay spending the bulk of your gear money on them. Fleet Feet is a really great place to start. Or find a locally owned and operated running store in your area. Not only will you get great shoes but many of them offer running groups of all levels and can tell you all the best trails in your area.
Mistake 2: Thinking that since I’ve decided I’m a runner, I can go run a ridiculous distance without any build up.
Result: Extreme soreness that made running again anytime soon absolutely impossible and burn out before I’d ever really started.
Learn From My Mistake: COUCH TO 5K! GET IT! FOLLOW IT! DON’T SKIP AHEAD! I’ve seen SO MANY PEOPLE say that they started the C25K program and think that first week was too easy so they skip ahead and soon after give up because it seems too hard. The program is specifically built to ease you into running. I started and failed it THREE TIMES before finally reading a thread about it on MyFitnessPal that said what I am saying now. Those first few weeks were hard for me because I wanted to run more. I wanted to BE A RUNNER ALREADY but then around week 5 I had to actually repeat a week because it started to be tough. Repeating a week is okay, they even say that when you start but DON’T skip ahead! I told Ben that I look back at week 5-6 when I honestly thought there was NO WAY I’d ever be able to run for 8 minutes at a time now I’m running for 45 minutes straight.
Mistake 3: Thinking gym workout clothes and “running clothes” were interchangeable.
Result: Raw skin in very unfortunate areas and overheating to the point of nearly passing out.
Learn From My Mistake: Not all gym clothes are built the same. Cotton tanks work for me on cooler days but on hot days you will really want a light weight and breathable material. Also, I’ve found that for me tighter fitting shorts keep my inner thighs from rubbing. I always assumed all those tight fitting running bottoms were for show but they aren’t. They REALLY are more comfortable when you get into longer distances. If you are uncomfortable in something tighter fitting, look into running skirts. They cover more but still have the shorts built in.
Mistake 4: Thinking that every blog post and person and magazine article and book was wrong about the nutrition needed to maintain the body during a run.
Result: Some really unfortunate and silly looking HIGH SPEED runs to get home as soon as humanly possible because of runner’s trots. They exist and they suck. Also, bonking is a thing and there is no bigger buzz kill on a run than suddenly running out of energy to finish.
Learn From My Mistake: EAT! Eat before, eat during, eat after. Every body is different and it will take some time to learn the best time for fuel ingestion and exactly what that fuel is but don’t starve your body. EAT! For me a banana no less than an hour before and a Gu gel 15 minutes before start is golden. I run in the early evening so I’ve already had breakfast, snack and lunch then the banana and Gu. I usually have a recovery drink when I finish and then dinner within two hours. If I don’t get enough food in me before that early evening run, if I skip lunch for instance, it makes me feel like I’m running through a foot of mud. I’ve never actually run through a foot of mud but I can’t imagine it would suck any less than bonking from lack of food. EAT!
Mistake 5: Stretching is stupid, I’m already flexible.
Result: OMG WHY DO I HURT IN ALL THE PLACES?!
Learn From My Mistake: STRETCH! MAKE the time. When you plan for a run, include time to stretch before and after. Give yourself at LEAST 15 minutes after you run to stretch out those warm muscles. There are about 76,184,615,464 videos on YouTube for post run stretching. I also incorporate one day a week to do Christine Felstead’s Runner’s Yoga. I want to punch her in the face through most of it but it really has made a difference in my calves, hips and hamstrings. It makes sore muscle recovery time faster and has even made it easier to run since I realized how important the hips are when you run.
That’s enough for now. I am by no means any kind of expert. I am still very much an amateur runner so all I can do is give you all the opportunity to learn from my silly mistakes. Through all that though, I have to say, I REALLY LOVE TO RUN. Four-months-ago-me used to read runner’s blog posts about how much they love to run and I wanted to reach through the screen and punch them square in the jaw for being asshole liars because nobody could ever love this torture! I’ve never been so happy to admit how wrong I was.