*It’s been a while since I posted anything running related . . . but I’m still running just as much as ever! With the new year, new resolutions, and new people taking up or restarting running, I wanted to share some tips, wisdom and insight that you may not see in a classic “running for beginners” post from years through the ups and downs of running, training and racing.
Maybe you haven’t run in a long time. Or maybe you are new to running and have never done it before. Or maybe you have tried it a couple of times throughout the years, but could never really get into the groove and stick with it. Whatever the case, if you call yourself a newbie, novice or first timer to running, or if your new thing for the new year is running, this post is for you.
I guess I’ll start by just saying welcome.
Welcome to the running community. Welcome to a worldwide group of like-minded people who are here to cheer you on, encourage you, yell at you from the sidelines and pick you up after every bad race, DNF and failed PR. A group of people who are after the same goals, dreaming the same big dreams and pushing through for the same big things as you are. A group that gets up at the crack of dawn, no matter what the weather, and pushes through no matter how big the struggle. And more than that, a group that learns how to ignore that little doubting voice in their head every single time and do it over and over again.
You have opened your life up to a new series of challenges, a new series of struggles and a new series of sacrifices. But you have also opened yourself up to some of the greatest moments of accomplishments, self-pride and support you could ever ask for.
But running is kind of funny, because it’s not something you really need to be taught. We all know how to run. We can learn how to improve, and we can learn how to be more efficient, but it’s unique in that you will never end up sitting down in a discouraged, sobbing pile because you “just can’t get the hang of it.” (Although, don’t be embarrassed if running still makes you sit down in a discouraged sobbing pile for other reasons . . . )
But that’s what makes it so great: if you are out there running, doing your thing, putting one foot in front of the other and trying your best every time, you’re a runner.
And if that’s who you want to be, it comes with its own set of unwritten “good to know” information. Not the classic, “don’t wear anything new on race day,” or “eat within 30 minutes of your run” information, but different than that. And when you need to know it, you’ll be thankful you already have the answer:
- It will get easier– No matter how hard it seems now, and how much it hurts and how big the struggle, with time, running gets easier. And those people that you see going by you who make it look easy and go by so gracefully: that will be you. You will get there too. Just keep at it and keep pushing and you’ll get there.
- Sometimes it will always be hard – Even after all these years of running, I still have days that feel hard, days that feel slow, and runs that just don’t feel awesome at all. And it will continue to happen for as long as you are a runner. But it’s balanced out by all the other runs that are way better, make you feel awesome and leave you with that little piece of runner’s high!
- You’ll see a new side of yourself – Maybe it will be this person who always seems to be able to get up early now; maybe it will be this person who seems way more dedicated now; maybe it will be this person with an increase in self-confidence and self love, and a much stronger I can do it attitude. Whatever the case, you may be surprised at how much more running does for you than simply get you fit.
- You’ll never be alone – Whether it’s the same person you see every morning when you go out for your run, the people you run with every week, or that random stranger who encourages you on at your lowest point during a race, running has this amazing sense of community. We all wave to each other and talk to each other like we’re best mates, when really, the only thing we know about the other one is that they’re a runner too. And maybe that’s all that matters.
- You’ll never be satisfied – Maybe for a little bit. Like the first couple of weeks after you reach your time goal and set a new PR in a race and qualify for a new race . . . but then that wears off, and you start to think of the next thing you want to try to achieve, the next challenge you want to take on, or how much more you can push yourself. And then you start all over again . . .
- Run your own run – Don’t compare yourself to others and try to beat their time or run farther, faster, longer than them. Don’t compare yourself to others and think you are less of a runner because of what you haven’t done or not as good as someone else because of what they have. The beauty of running is that it is a solitary sport: you get to do it alone, beat only yourself, and compare only to you. Run your own run, not someone else’s.
- It’s not only about races – It can be easy as a newbie to assume that running only counts if you run a race, or is only worth it if you are training for something. And while this may be true for some, it’s definitely not true for everyone. Pick a race and train if you want to, but if you just want to run for fun and because you love it, it’s okay not to race!
- You are fast enough – Maybe not as fast as you want to be, or maybe not as fast as you can be, but stop beating yourself up and saying you are so slow! As a new runner, it takes time to build up speed and endurance, and piling on those negative thoughts in your early days does nothing to help you improve. If you go out and give it your all, every time, that’s all you can ask for. And you will improve as a result!
Here’s hoping your 2017 running and running goals are off to a great start! And if nothing else, remember that no matter how hard the run was, how tired you feel or how slow you think you are, doing something and running regardless is what matters the most.