“There is no way this is going to work,” I thought as my feet hit the pavement for my first run after I had my second child.
I had completed my first half-marathon ten years before. But how could I get my body to move again like it had so many years ago?
Before I set out, I told myself, “just try to do it. Put one foot in front of the other and give it a chance.” I had no expectations, other than to make it back alive!
That cold April morning taught me a lot about myself. I learned that the size of my body does not have to decide what I am capable of; grit and perseverance are what matter. Over the next three months, I started and stopped many times before I was finally successful.
Many first-time runners quit because they don’t have the knowledge they need to be successful. My running journey has taken me from beginner to advanced and right back to a beginner many times. Through it all, I’ve found the following tips to be essential to all runners.
1. You must invest in a good pair of running shoes.
Go to a running store and get fitted. Once you know what you need, you can buy from a site like Roadrunnersports.com which allows you to try shoes out and return them if you’re not satisfied.
2. A good bra is essential to staying comfortable while running.
Titlenine.com is a great place to start for fit and function.
3. If you’re a mom to young ones, investing in a good running stroller is a must.
I have experimented with both, and let me tell you, running with a standard stroller is not only much more difficult, it can also be dangerous. The Bob stroller is popular among running moms.
4. The hardest thing about being a running mother is finding time to train.
Running in the morning before everyone else is awake often works best for moms. Now that the mornings are lighter, hitting the pavement early is safe. Lay your clothes out the night before so you don’t have any excuses.
5. Slow and steady.
The key to running is to add mileage gradually. This is where a training plan is handy. Halhigdon.com is a great place to start.
6. Warm-up and cool-down.
Walk 3-5 minutes at the beginning to get your body warm and at the end to cool down.
7. Take walk breaks while running.
Some people find using the method of run/walk works best. Example: a beginner might run 1 minute and walk 30 seconds, working up to running for 5 minutes and walking for 30 seconds.
8. Pick landmarks to keep you motivated.
When I started out, I would see a stop sign and tell myself, “I am going to run to that sign and then walk.” Find mailboxes, signs, houses, etc., to use as part of your strategy.
9. Running outside is harder than the treadmill.
The treadmill is a great way to train, but just remember that you must also get time outside. When the weather is good, I try to limit my treadmill days to one and keep the rest outside. If you do run on the treadmill, make sure you are adjusting the incline. Do not run all of your miles at the same incline.
10. Try a track workout for a bit of variety.
Example: run 3x around the track to warm up and then for each lap you run, do 25 walking lunges, 25 jump squats, and 25 high knees. If you are lucky enough to have stadium stairs, run a lap and then do a set of stadium stairs. Repeat for 30 minutes.
11. Mix in cross-training that includes strength training.
You must strengthen your glutes and core to keep everything in balance. Do not skip leg day at the gym.
12. The foam roller will become your best friend.
Lots of rolling out your IT band, glutes, calves, hamstrings, and quads. Stretch, stretch, stretch. This is probably the most important part of training.
13. Rest days are essential.
If at all possible, try not to run two days in a row. Once you are more experienced and your body is stronger, you can run back-to-back days.
14. Keep a training log.
There are great apps that track your mileage, pace, and progress. Examples of apps include: Couch to 5k, Map My Run, Runtastic, and Nike+ Running.
15. Eat, but don’t overeat.
Many people give themselves the green light to eat whatever they want when they are training for a run. The reality is, you don’t need as much food as you think you need. The rule of thumb is that one mile burns 100 calories. That means that a three mile run is needed to burn off that maple bar, or in my case, six miles to burn off the two maple bars I eat!
16. If you are running first thing in the morning, try a piece of peanut butter toast.
You don’t want to overload your stomach, but you also need some fuel to keep you going. If you are running later in the day, try to eat one hour before you go running. Protein and carbs must be consumed within the first 45 minutes after your run.
17. Pick a short race to sign up for.
Many people find a 5k to be the best first run to take part in. You can find anything from a 5k race to a full marathon for your state online at runningintheusa.com.
So there you have it; 17 tips to get you off the couch and ready for your first 5k, 10k, or half-marathon. Just remember, it does get easier – I promise!
Stick with it and you will see the rewards.