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6 Tips for New or Sometimes Runners

Posted Oct 11 2011 12:00pm

New runner tips have been posted many times before, and they usually include very sound advice, but they’re missing a few things that I’ve picked up over the months.

You see, I wouldn’t call myself a “runner” in the sense that it’s my passion and that I compete in races as a part time job. I’m more a runner in the sense that I “run”. Run is in quotation marks because I’m not even sure if that’s what you would call it. I’m the girl in a bright yellow Lululemon top with short legs walking at a speedy pace and giving it all my might. If I could run 8:00 min. miles, I would. However, I’m more the, um, heh, 13:00 min. mile girl.

And that’s okay.

I’m not running to compete in marathons. I’m not running to impress anyone. I’m not running so that I can eat brownies later (I would do that if I wanted to, anyway). I run because sometimes, I want to. Sometimes, running around and looking at palm trees and sunshine makes me realize how great my life is now. And sometimes, feeling my heart beat out of my chest makes me feel alive.

Notice how I said sometimes. I’ve tried, and I’ll never be a “run every day” type of girl. I just do it when I want to, which is usually 1 or 2 miles 2-3 times a week.

Here are 6 tips I’ve acquired as both a new runner and a sometimes runner.

1. Assess why you’re running. Do you want to be a speed demon? Do you want to increase your aerobic exercise? Do you want to run races? Just think about why you’re running and what your running goals are before you start a running regimen. If you don’t, you might burn out too quickly and lose motivation to run at all. Doing something for a purpose or goal, even if it’s just to spend some quality time with yourself, will give you a reason to lace up those running sneakers.

2. Don’t run too fast. If your goal is to qualify for the Boston Marathon, then don’t worry, you’ll get there over time. If, like me, it’s to look at pretty surroundings and sweat a little, then who cares how fast you run? I sure don’t! Don’t push yourself past what you can handle. Run at a comfortable pace so that your heart and legs don’t give out and your mind doesn’t go crazy.  Increase your speed (if you want to) gradually, don’t start out thinking you’re a marathoner.

3. Breathe. This is so important. Make sure to work on your breathing techniques and it will increase your running performance and make it much more tolerable. I practice slow, deep breathes through the nose and out the mouth. If you want help working on breath, take a yoga or meditation class.

4. Don’t worry about other people. Don’t scurry back into your house because there are people walking their dogs or running along your route. Don’t worry about the people driving by and what they’re thinking of you running. Chances are, they’re not thinking anything. And if they are? Who cares! You’re running to better yourself in some way; you’re running for you, not some stranger on the street. Just focus on yourself.

5. Sometimes running really stinks. I read blogs of people that compete in back to back marathons. I see people running effortlessly on the street every day. These things can be defeating, especially when they make it look so easy. The truth is, running can be kind of awful. Some days I can run for a few miles and feel completely at ease, and other times I’m sweating like a beast and nearly crying after a few minutes. Try to stick it out because it will usually get better. But, if it doesn’t, just stop. Nothing will happen if you stop, but bad things can happen if you push yourself past capacity.

6. Every step counts. Don’t beat yourself up for not running as far as you want. If you only run for 5 minutes, that’s still 5 more minutes than someone sitting on the couch. Each step you take counts for something, and all of those steps add up. You got up and did something, so be proud of yourself.

The most important thing is to have fun. It’ll hurt, you’ll sweat, and it’s not going to be that easy, but try to have fun anyway. And when you’re finished, try to coerce your significant other into massaging your poor, tired feet. It might work. If you can figure that one out, please tell me your secrets.

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