After seeing all the running posts in social media in the past few weeks due to the Boston Marathon, you’ve decided to dig out some shoes and take up running. GREAT! You throw on some shorts and grab your phone and take off. An hour later, you’re done and you reflect. WOW! Life is going to be GREAT! You’ll post that run, follow other runners, look for running quotes for your brand spankin’ new Pinterest board, and subscribe to both Women’s Running and Runner’s World (even if you’re a man).
The next day, you can’t get out of bed and swear off all things running. No thanks, no way, not ever again. Your blister on your heel is disgusting and you won’t realize it until later, but that toenail will turn black and fall off.
So what happened?
- unrealistic expectations
- improper equipment
- broken cardinal rule
Those sleek stylish runners on Instagram (not me, I’ll always be the slow red-faced one) didn’t wake up one day and clap their hands for instant runner. And, other than a select few, they didn’t start out breaking speed records. Plan to start with walking. Yes. WALKING. If you can walk for 30 minutes already, and I mean a brisk walk, not a meandering stroll in the garden, then you’re ready for a walk-run progression. My favorite is the Couch-t0-5-K. In 8 weeks, you’ll be running 3 miles. This is much better than going to the track, running until you think you’ll die. stop. swear. run until you think you’ll die. stop. swear. This doesn’t sound fun at all. Lower your expectations and focus on YOUR improvement and journey, not competing with the Instarunners.
You need good running shoes and you can’t pick those out at the big box store based on looks alone. And, you can’t really rely on the online shoe stores because today’s shoes make NASA look like a game of jacks. Go to a specialty running store. If you do not have one in your town, find the closest one and make a road trip. You really need to know your gait and foot strike to know if you pronate, supinate, or are neutral. The wrong shoes are often the cause of disaster. Hips, knees, and back are all directly affected by your footwear.
We are nearing the summer heat and that means you need clothing that will breathe, move with you, and not chafe areas you DO NOT want to realize are chafed in the hot shower. The good news is, you can find affordable technical clothing with hidden or no seams in many stores like Target, Academy sports, department stores, etc. Leave the cotton tshirts at home for after the shower.
Broken Cardinal Rule
The cardinal rule in running is this: Start slow, start low. I mentioned the walk-run transition earlier. Now it’s time to talk about increase in mileage. Increasing distance too fast results in injury time and time again. Shin splints, IT band problems, runner’s knee, hip friction bursitis, feet paint, plantar fasciitis are just a few that pop up when you think everything is going great. Start slow. Start LOW.
This is a short list, but in my opinion, these are the 3 most important rules to know before you take your first trek down the road to becoming a lifelong runner. Disclaimer: I broke every rule and regretted it. But, I’m still a lifelong runnner so…there you go .