I have been running seriously for, what? Six weeks, now? So, clearly, I am an expert. No, but really–I have learned some things in those six weeks about what works and what doesn’t, and this is DEFINITELY coming from the perspective of a new runner. I’m hoping I’ll be able to help anyone who’s thinking they might like to get going, but just doesn’t know where to start.
First: The Shoes.
If there’s one thing you have to do for yourself, it’s get a decent pair of running shoes. They don’t have to be insanely expensive (I paid $60 for mine), but they do have to be real running shoes–not just whatever you wear to shlep around the mall, and not just something that looks athletic. Even if you’re just barely starting to run, you can still really injure yourself if your body’s not supported properly, and if your feet aren’t supported, then the rest of your body isn’t, either.
My best advice, here, is to find a running shoe store in your area. A good store will, for free, analyze your running gait and recommend a good shoe for you, depending on how badly you pronate and how much support you need. They should also have a good return policy, if the shoe you buy just isn’t feeling right. You can buy your shoes online if you want, after that, but it’s kind of a daunting thing to do if you don’t know what you’re looking for.
I have these ASICS Women’s GEL-Cumulus 13, by the way, and I love them!
Second: The Program
Obviously, you could step outside and start running around your block or neighborhood or the school track or whatever. I say go for it! Personally, I was way too out of shape for that. I seriously could not have run around the block, even once–no joke. That’s why I chose the Couch to 5k program, an interval training program that’s intended to literally get you off your potato-chip-encrusted couch and to a 5k in 9 weeks(-ish). The first day of C25K asks you to run for 60 seconds at a time. I was pretty sure I could do that. And I did! Now I’m running 1.5 miles without a problem. AND I LIKE IT. Who would have guessed?
If you have a smartphone, there are a BAZILLION apps that will help train you through the C25K program. I ended up choosing the one put out by RunDouble. I felt like it had the most options–GPS ability, integration with my phone’s music with a bunch of options, upload of each run’s stats to your profile on the website, and several other trainers that came with, for when I was through the 5k program. Also, the first two weeks are a full program free trial, so you can test all the bells and whistles. It costs a whopping $1.59 if you do buy it. Anyway. That’s just my preferred program.
I. hate. water. I don’t know what my deal is, but with the exception of when I was pregnant and wanted all the ice water that could be found in all the land, I refuse to drink plain water. I’ve found a solution with those liquid water flavors made by Mio and Dasani and whomever. That’s the only way I’ll drink it. I go through about 24 oz of water when I run, and more when I’m done. Please, please, have water on-hand when you run, or you’ll have a headache. Or worse. UPDATE: Mio now has an electrolyte version called MioFit, which I’m really liking. It doesn’t have that weird salty flavor like Gatorade, and it’s helping me drink less and hydrate more. I was starting to get headaches after my long runs, even with lots of water. This is working better.
Hahaha. I could just stop there. But let me just say that I run slowly, and that’s ok. I run on a treadmill (for a lot of reasons: toddlers at home, prior injuries, cracked pavement makes my ankles scared, no impact cushion outside…. Also, my parents bought it for me about 8 years ago, so, you know. It’s THERE. :) …Ahem–what was I saying? Oh, treadmill. Because of that, I know I started out running at 4.3 mph. Which is a FOURTEEN minute mile. I’m pretty sure my dad, who has run almost daily my whole life, runs about a 7:00 mile. But is this about comparison? Is this about speed? NO. It’s about being healthy. So none of that really matters. The RunDouble people say they’ve seen some people clock in with runs at a 20:00 mile pace. The point is to do it. Go, you.
The one thing I find really helps me with speed is good music. I love, love, love jog.fm. You can plug in your pace over there and it’ll bring up HUGE lists of songs that match your running pace. You’re guaranteed to have some of them in your music library already, but I found about 30 I wanted to download. Want to go faster? Bump up the BPM over on the left-hand side of the window by about 10. That’s enough to give you just a little gentle encouragement, and not make things crazy.
I’m also finding that the key to good running music is to pick songs that make you smile. For me, that means totally ridiculous songs from the 1990s. How can you not crack up when “Pump Up the Jam” or “I’m Too Sexy” come on? Hello? And because of the cross-dressing video from YouTube, “Call Me Maybe” is my current favorite. I totally forget I’m even running. Awesome! Anyway, Jog.fm can help you find some goodies that are right for you.
This won’t be a problem for everyone, but it is for me. I’m extraordinarily busty. I don’t mean DDs. I mean much, much bigger. May I just take a moment to recommend this bra? It’s very comfortable both before and during my run, and that’s about all the endorsement I think it needs!
So, duh. Exercise is good for you. I don’t want to be one of those crazy exercise proselytizers. I don’t love to work out. OK, let me amend that: I enjoy it at the end. I do get a little bit of runner’s high. But it’s not like I wake up and feel like “YAYY! It’s morning and I get to GO RUNNING!!”
Here’s what I do like:
- My resting heart rate has gone from the high 80s to the mid 50s.
- My heart rate while working out has dropped from 200 to around 165.
- I lost 7 pounds in one month. More to come!
- I’ve dropped an inch from all my torso measurements, 1.5 from my hips (or, more accurately, that horrid bread-dough low tummy my children gave me), and a half-inch from my Relief-Society arms. DUDE. Imagine six months from now. I’ve never seen my stupid post-baby tummy be so flat, in proportion to my body. It’s kind of weirding me out. In an awesome way.
- I feel like a rock star when I’m done. Seriously. And that’s what makes it really worth it, for me.
So, you know, if you think running might be for you, go for it! I’ve got your back. You have questions? I’ll try to answer. Good luck!