Hey non runners! Do you wish that could be one of those people effortlessly gliding down the streets or across the trails? Do you want to cross a 5K finish line, or hell let’s dream big, maybe earn a 100 mile buckle? But the idea of running to the mailbox currently has you intimidated? Trust me when I tell you that you aren’t alone in that hesitation – but that you CAN become a runner. Yes, YOU. In this post, we’ll cover all of the basics of everything you need to know about running, and help you get started.
I know the running world can seem wildly intimidating at first. People are talking about distances you currently can’t even fathom running, using words that you’ve never even heard of. There’s constant discussion of PR’s and negative splits, and concepts that seem so overwhelming, when you’re just wondering how to put one foot in front of another without feeling like you might pass out.
Trust me, I get it. Though it’s been over a decade now (woah!) I too, was once a brand new “wanna be a” runner. And since then, I’ve worked with countless brand new runners. Today, I’m going to share what I consider to be 7 of the most important rules of running to help you get started. No, it’s not EVERYTHING to know about running, but it’s just enough.
Everything You Need to Know about Running:
We’re going to start with the most important thing you need to know about becoming a runner. If you read nothing else in this post, know this:
1. Remember this important rule: if you go for a run, YOU ARE A RUNNER.
That’s it. That’s the secret to becoming a runner. There’s no test to pass, no minimum minute per mile threshold, or distance you have to run. Nope. If you want to be a runner, go for a run, and voila, you are in the club. Trail, pavement, treadmill, track, it does not matter. Welcome, we’re stoked to have you.
2. Don’t overthink the gear.
Starting a new sport or activity can be exciting, and wildly overwhelming. When it comes to running, it may seem obvious: all you need is a pair of running shoes, right? Right (see below)
But then you start looking into available running equipment, or see what other runners are using, only to be bombarded with $180 lightweight sneakers, $200 hydration packs, and $750 GPS watches. But like any sport, there are the “must have necessities” and the “luxuries”.
For now, stick to the basics:
- Proper fitting shoes (the right ones for YOU – see below!)
- Quality socks (check out: 5 Tips for Choosing Running Socks)
- Sweat wicking, performance apparel. It doesn’t have to be expensive, even discount department stores like Target or Kohl’s carry decent quality, but affordable, workout apparel.
To start, that’s really all you need!
3. Get fitted for the correct shoes.
So we’ve established that you don’t need to spend a fortune on fancy running gear to get started. That said, the one thing you really do need to invest in is the correct shoes for your feet. The key word here is your feet. What may work for your boss who is a multi decade veteran runner, or your friend who is super fast and qualified for Boston on her first try, might not necessarily work for you. Further, those comfortable shoes you bought on sale at a department store two summers ago might not be cut out for the rigors of running.
We all have different foot strike patterns, levels of pronation (or supination) and other biomechanical quirks, not to mention different shaped feet, that need to be addressed on individual basis. So how do you know which shoe is right for you? Invest time and money into your body: visit your local running store and let an expert check out your feet, and purchase high quality shoes designed for running.
4. Come up with a plan.
Back in November of 2006 I went for the very first run of what I consider to be my “running career”. Sure, I had run before…as a long time student athlete I had run plenty during soccer practice or at track meets. But this was the first time I went for a run with the purpose of becoming a “runner”. I headed out the door, ran one single mile, and thought I was going to die, it was so bloody hard. The good news is (spoiler alert): I didn’t die. I did however, throw up twice and managed to wind up with a bloody, torn blister on the back of my Achilles tendon. And then I sat there wondering what to do next.
Lesson learned (many years later) at that time in my life, one mile was probably much too far to attempt to run. Easing into the running world should not involve blood and puke (gross). Instead, your journey into running should be a realistic, approachable, and doable challenge. For many, that may mean a combination of running AND walking, in specific intervals, until you begin to build up your cardiovascular strength and endurance.
Find a beginner training plan to help you safely get started. Following a plan will not only give you a realistic timeline, but it will hopefully help keep you injury free by ensuring you build your mileage volume up slowly and safely. A few great places to start include the Couch to 5K plan, Galloway method, or reaching out to a coach for a personalized plan.
5. Your pace does not matter.
I know if you go on Facebook or Instagram, or whatever social media platform other runners frequent, you will constantly see people posting their average pace time or mile splits for training runs. They might be accompanied by words of disappointment, or worse, words of contempt due to the pace. So I can understand why you might be fooled into thinking pace is the almighty determining factor of your worth of a runner. But it’s not.
There will always be someone faster than you. There will always be someone slower than you. You will have perceived “fast” days, and you will have perceived “slow” days. And your “slow” day might be “fast” for someone else, and your P.R mile might be a warmup for someone else.
You get the idea.
6. Chafing hurts
Friction happens. Sometimes, when running even short distances, body parts, bra straps, t-shirts, ill fitting socks, you name it, rub across your skin over and over to the point that it feels like you’ve been hit with a searing hot branding iron. If you don’t notice the chafing immediately after the run, you’ll definitely notice it the second you step into the shower, and believe me, it’s not fun.
The good news is, you can easily prevent chafing with two important steps:
- As mentioned above, wear running or sport specific exercise clothing and socks. They will typically be made of sweat wicking material and have less and/or flat seams, to help prevent chafing.
- Use an anti chafing lubricant, like Body Glide. Body Glide works everywhere, including feet, thighs, underarms, nipples, even faces exposed to wind and cold (yes, unfortunately all of these places are prone to chafing!)
7. Remember that this is a lifetime sport.
Here’s an important word you need to know in the running world: “FOMO”. It stands for “Fear of Missing Out”, and it is a very common affliction among the running community. FOMO causes people to sign up for more races than they have time to train for. FOMO causes people to sign up for races beyond their abilities. FOMO puts the fear into your brain that if you don’t do every single race everyone else is doing right now, you’re going to somehow miss out.
Stop. Deep breath.
I’ve seen countless newer runners fall victim to the FOMO, and 9 times out of 10, either burn out emotionally, or worse, end up injured from trying to take on too much.
Remember that running is a lifetime sport. You have your WHOLE LIFE to complete all of these new exciting running goals. And as such, you want to treat your body with respect, building your endurance and strength gradually, to ensure that you will be running for your entire life. This is your journey…there’s no need to rush it.
So, there you have it. No, it’s not everything there is to know about running, but it’s everything you NEED to know to get started. Get the right shoes, wear anti-chafing gear, start slow (and with a plan), be patient, and remember, you ARE a runner. Welcome to this amazing sport, I hope it changes your life just like it changed mine.
Have any beginner running questions? Please comment below, I’m happy to help!