I was never an athletic person and physical activity was a chore I dreaded. Becoming a runner is hands down the hardest thing I’ve ever done! (And my first marathon was pretty dreadful.) When I was first getting started I had no clue what I was doing. Like so many new runners, I scoured the internet hoping to find anything that would make running easier.
I learned a lot from the thousands of articles I read but I quickly found there was no better way to learn than to learn by doing. In the two and a half years since I started running and using Runkeeper, I’ve run three marathons, over a dozen half marathons and I’ve logged over 5,000 miles (running, cycling and walking). If you’re just getting started or if you hate running, here are six pieces of advice I wish I would have gotten as a new runner:
1. Don’t Try To Figure It Out.
Your experience is going to be very different from anyone else’s. Some people take to running like a fish to water while others have to fight with everything they have for months before it gets easier. Stop stressing about what you’re doing right and what you’re doing wrong. There’s only one thing you can do wrong and that’s quit! Which brings me to…
2. Don’t Quit!
When your goal is to cross a finish line (that can be a physical finish line or an imaginary one), it really doesn’t matter how long it takes you to get there! Whether you’re trying to run a marathon, half marathon or a single mile it’s going to be difficult! If it were easy we’d all be doing it! It’s going to test you both physically and mentally! Expect that! It may (or may not) take you multiple tries to run a certain distance. Whatever you do, don’t give up.
3. Just Say Yes.
When the last thing you want to do is run, go run. When there’s a particular distance that’s scaring you to death, bite the bullet and commit already! Lean in to the pain and the discomfort because you will never finish a bad run and say, “I really wish I would have just sat on the couch.” A 30 minute run is always better than no run at all. Running is all about pushing your limits and seeing just how far you can go! All you have to do is go a tiny bit further than you went yesterday.
4. Take Your Time!
I know it feels like you need to run as much as possible when you’re training for a terrifying distance but running non-stop won’t help you hop the mental hurdle of “I’ll never be ready.” You have to trust your training plan and take your time! Increase your mileage slowly! Cross train! Rest! Just because a certain distance feels impossible right now doesn’t mean it will feel like that in a few weeks or months.
5. STEP AWAY FROM THE INTERNET.
Feel free to read the hundreds of “What to Expect When You Become a Runner” articles you’re going to find online but you will be much better off just unplugging. If you find them motivating, READ ON! But it’s easy to fall into the “I’M DOING EVERYTHING WRONG! THERE’S SO MUCH TO LEARN!” trap. Don’t worry about what’s to come, stop comparing yourself to other runners and just focus on getting through each individual mile.
6. Listen To Your Body.
Days off are necessary. If you’re struggling because everything hurts, you probably need a rest day. A day or two off to cross train or rest is always a better option than pushing yourself and getting hurt. You have your entire life ahead of you to run and preventing injuries is so much easier than being forced to take time off after developing one. Listen to your body!
That running bug is catchy! It’s pretty hard to cross a finish line and not fall head over heels in love with running terrifyingly far distances. The best way to learn is to just get out there and try. You’ll find what works and what doesn’t work along the way. Enjoy the experience and stop worrying about getting it right. It’s all uphill from here! (IN A GOOD WAY! Hills make you stronger…right?)