"Things I wish I had known when I started running"
A thought came to me the other night, as I was with a group of brand new runners. I mean a fresh batch of newbies. I caught myself thinking, "Gosh...there are a lot of things I wish I had known about running when I got started". I was looking at a bunch of new runners standing there in 90% cotton attire in under 30 degree temperatures, wide eyed and full of excitement, but mostly full of fear (we've all been there). The kind of fear that can paralyzes a person, "Can I do this?, Do I belong here?, Am I starting something, one more time, I can't finish?" and the most common fear "I'm going to be left behind". On the other hand, I'm full of excitement for them, knowing their lives are going to change and they are going to do things that once seemed impossible. I know there is so much to tell them and I don't want to forget anything. We can train in groups, but running is a very individual sport. What works for one runner, might not work for another.
So, I sent an email to my running friends with a question in mind. And as usual, what returned was humor and wisdom. Below are their thoughts to the idea of, "Things I wish I had known when I started running". These answers come from runners who have been running from under a year, to those who have run for over 25 years. Their experience range from those who have run 5ks, those who have run their first marathon, runners who have completed 25+ marathons, to elite runners, and to runners who have traveled all over the world running marathons and ultra marathons. My best teacher has always been experience and below you will find some great experience to learn from. Enjoy - Coach N
"Things I wish I had known when I started running"
Mike Stieglitz - running for over 40 years
1. Immediately develop a long term view. You will be running for 40 years, so a four-month total recovery period is not a major set back that should depress you (unless it comes right before
in April). Boston
2. Patience. Improvement is gradual and should not be rushed. (See above)
3. If you’re one to become obsessed with numbers (“I have to run six miles today to make my weekly goal or I will just die..”.) then start recording the number of days you run instead of the number of miles. Early on, the only question I ask a new runner is how many days a week are you getting out there? NOT how many miles or how fast or you running. (It’s a mind set.)
4.You get stronger on your off days. You only break yourself down in your workouts. Rest is the most important time of your training schedule (but must be timed to be after a good workout.)
5. Good shoes cost between $75 and $100. A good doctor (to correct a cheap shoe-related injury) is at least three times that amount. You do the math.
7. wear tape on your nipples if its raining and you’re running more than five miles.....
8. run in the moonlight at least once per quarter....
9. your improvement will not be a straight line. not every race will be faster than the last. Get use to it. Compare year to year, not race to race.
10. Remember that old coaches like to ramble on......
Mark Olateju - running 5 years
1) That as a distance runner, I needed to “GU” and drink water more to enhance my performance
2) I should’ve stretched more(at all) before running3) I needed to train hard, to race easy
4) I needed to get mileage under my belt to accustom my body to races
5) Sleep is extremely important
6) Body glide is a very good friend
7) Not to run at the same pace at all times
8) It takes years to reach a comfortable level running
Joe Beisner - running 22 years
1) I wish I had known “how much hard work goes on behind the scenes to be able to compete in races at a high level on a consistent basis every year.”
2) I would do it again - because running is very important to me and my lifestyle.
Jay Cutcher - running for one year
1) Shoes - I’ve had 2 injuries directly related to not having the right shoes.
2) Show up - If I miss one run, it’s much easier to miss the next one. Even if I’m injured I show up to keep it as a habit.
3) Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right.
4) Coach Nikki is not my friend. Her cute smile fades real fast on “Speed Work Wednesdays”.
5) I no longer smoke (not something I’ve learned, but still a benefit)
6) I’ve learned that I no longer get to sleep in on the weekends.
7) Do not wear too many layers. I get too hot real fast and have to take stuff off.
8) Racing is fun. Waking up early for the race is not.
9) I’m more disciplined in all aspects of my life. Running has made me better at scheduling my time.
10) The most amazing feeling I’ve ever had in my life is completing a marathon.
Marcus Grunewald - running for over 25 years
1) That it is really hard to begin running, but it doesn’t hurt for as long as you think it is going to and it eventually does become a lot of fun!
2) A bad day of running is still better than a good day in the office.
Teddi Fullenwider - running seriously for a year and a half.
1) How important it is to listen to your coach as far as going out slowly and coming back hard. I knew that in my head, but it took me a long time to really grasp it. It is so true. When I go out a little slower than I think I should, I come back stronger and still have a little left for a kick at the end.
2) How important it is to limit your fiber intake the night before a long run. HAHA, you don’t have to print that one, but it’s true. You don’t realize how what you eat the day before can affect your run the next day.
Tricia Gill - Competitive Swimmer to a Runner, running seriously over one year
1) Wish I had known that it is really ok to walk/stop for a water break. I used to skip the water stations, so I wouldn’t have to stop, but now know how helpful it is.
2) The beauty of real running tech-shirts!! Instead of cotton ones
Kristi Jones - running off and on for 4 years
1) I wish I had known that the key to running is that it is more important to have the frequency of runs during the week, not to focus too much on the intensity of the training runs...
2) I wish I had known that you don’t have to run in pain just to ease your ego.
Bart Yasso - running 33 years
1) That 99.9 % of all runners are the coolest people on the planet.
Kendra Ramick - running about 2 years
1) I wish I had known that there would be good and bad days, so I wouldn’t get discouraged when I first started. Some days no matter how much you’ve prepared, how well you have eaten, and how focused you are, your run still won’t be all you had hoped for. You just have to brush it off and set your sights on the next one!
Nikki Davis - running for 7 years
1) Don’t drink green tea before running a 5k :)
2) It’s not important to other runners how fast or slow I am, what’s important to them is I’m out there Running!
3) Show up for my runs, no matter what my mind is telling me! I will always feel awesome after the run!
4) Don’t stay up all night gambling till 4 am and run a marathon at 6:30 am or run a marathon with flu like symptoms - maybe I shouldn’t be running marathons!?!
5) That my entire life would change directions.
Theresa Remek - running around 3 yrs
1) I wish I would have known that good running clothes are pricey.
2) I wish I would have known that runners are all in the same family.
Nick Polito - running 3 years. Started January 2007. Saw a Nike+ commercial so I got one for my Nano. A few weeks later I ran my first 5K with a friend. Too Cold to Hold 5K. I can’t remember, but it was probably 28 min. I didn’t pay the extra $5 for the chip.
1) Run more to get faster
2) Shoes are cheaper online
3) Don’t drink so often
4) Have fun at races
5) Hills are the key to eliminating injuries
6) Clothes don’t matter just good shoes
Darryl Dickson-Carr - running off and on since high school, or about 25 years. I didn’t figure out the items below until the last couple of years, though.
1) Whenever possible, you should budget for and buy two pairs of shoes at once, and alternate wearing them. Each pair will last longer, as will your feet and legs.
2) Besides water—lots of it—GU and similar products are a long-distance runner’s best friends.
3) Find other runners to help keep yourself honest.
4) A dedicated running regimen doesn’t mean you get to eat anything you want! If you want to get faster, watch your weight.
Chris Phelan, running for 40 years
1. It’s harder than you think. Everyone can run, but few do it well.
2. You can’t imagine the people you’ll meet, the places you’ll run and the where running will take you.
3. In shorts and a t-shirt, everyone looks the same. Your money, job, power, car, or appearances mean nothing the moment the starting gun is fired.
4. Some partner will hold you back, bring you down. Others will energize and encourage you, build you up. Choose your running partners carefully.
5. Some of the best runs are by yourself. Enjoy the quiet time away from the phone, computer, and others.
6. You will learn a lot about yourself that can’t be learned in a classroom or a test, through aches, pains, and injuries.
7. Even if you’ve lived in the same town all your life, on the first few steps of your first run you will see something you’ve never seen before.
8. There are many paths to a goal. It makes no difference which one you pick. But stick to only one.
9. Running is a journey, an on-going life style. Not a destination.
10. You have to prove you’re a runner every day. And you do that by doing it.
11. The moment you look back, you’re a spectator. Don’t look backward if your running forward, physically and euphemistically.
12. You will join a larger fraternity of isolated individuals.
13. You will be surprised by how many people hate you for running: motorists, relatives, the city planners, authorities, neighbors.
14. Like members of an orchestra and their instruments, so are athletes and the sport that chooses them. Runners tend to be humble, and introspective. They are also, selfish, self absorb, and self centered. But like their swimming and cycling counter parts, are intelligent and successful.
15. People who don’t run don’t know far “a couple of miles” really are. Nor do they know what “flat” means.
16. You become more aware and interested in weather.
17. Wear your number on the front of your torso. You’ll learn later what a dork you were for wearing everywhere else BUT your torso.
18. Race t-shirts are NEVER to be worn the day of the race. Another “dork” signal.
Matthew Eibell - running - Seriously for 3 ½ yrs. But I always ran a few miles a week for about 10 yrs.
1) I wish I had known it would be so much fun and that I would meet good friends - I would have started it way earlier in life.