I can’t even count the number of times I’ve tried to become a runner. There was the time in elementary school when my dad took my sister and I out for jogs in an attempt to improve our mile times in gym class. Then there was the time in high school when I tried out for the cross country team…and had to push myself in order to finish second to last. Maybe it was the engagement ring on my finger, or maybe it was just growing up a little and deciding it was now or never, but around last summer, I decided to do it, once and for all. It’s been just over a year since running has become a consistent part of my life, and while it has been hard, it’s also become one of the things I’m most proud of. I thought I’d share a few of the things I’ve learned this year, and if you’re new to running or discouraged by it, I really hope you find this encouraging! And if you’re an experienced runner, I would LOVE to hear some of the things you’ve learned along the way, too. I have a long way to go!
1. You WILL get better. On that first run, I couldn’t go a mile without stopping to walk. I was convinced that that would never change, but sure enough, it did. I’ve gotten so much stronger and faster over the last year, and I’m really proud of how different I feel when I run now.
2. Tracking your runs is helpful on many levels. I recently started using the Map My Run app, but I also like writing down each run’s mileage in a plain old notebook. It shows my progress, it’s motivating if my mileage is down from the previous month, and it gives me a way to compete with myself a little.
3. The right gear makes a big difference. A month into winter, I was ridiculously bored of running on the treadmill, but I simply had nothing to wear that was appropriate for running outside. A proper jacket, some compression leggings, and a thick headband later, running on cold days quickly became my favorite–plus, it’s fun to look really legit in all that gear :)
4. Running on a treadmill feels different than running on the road. For me personally, I have to raise the incline quite a bit to make similar progress on a treadmill as I do on the road. I used to only run on treadmills because I felt more vulnerable if I was on the road for the world to see, but now, I know I get the most out of my runs outside, and only run on the treadmill in bad weather.
5. In a similar vein, new routes can feel totally different too. The loop Dave and I usually run is somewhat hilly, so we love occasionally driving a little ways to one of the many trails throughout the Triangle. Not only are they a change of scenery, they’re also sometimes easier!
6. If you don’t fuel yourself well, you won’t run well. My worst runs have been 1. when I’m dehydrated, 2. when my stomach is empty, or 3. when my stomach is full. Planning ahead to time my meals/snacks right is essential for me! If I’m going to run after work, I’ll eat a Clif bar about half an hour before I leave the office. If I’m running in the morning or doing a race, I like to have half a banana and a slice of Ezekiel bread toast with peanut butter an hour before I start.
7. Sometimes, it’s the weather’s fault. This is a recent revelation–I feel like it has taken me so much longer to get into a groove post-wedding, but then in New York a few weeks ago, I went for my first really good run in months. The difference? It was 70 degrees and there was no humidity!
8. A running buddy, an awesome playlist, or new workout clothes are some of the best motivations. No explanation needed :)
9. There’s no shame in running and walking. My dad is the best runner I’ve ever known and my biggest inspiration, and ever since he started decades ago, he’s been doing running-walking intervals. In his most recent marathon, he did five minutes running-one minute walking intervals, and finished in the top 10%! #LifeGoals
10. I really enjoy it. Not every minute of every run, but overall, yes, I can honestly say I do like running. That’s something I never thought I would say, and it feels good!