So you’ve decided to start running. Good for you. You’ve taken the first step. The second is slightly harder: sticking to it. No one likes running when they first start out, but everyone eventually loves it. And the benefits for both your mind and body are well worth the painful interim.
So to help you go the distance, and fall in love with running, here are 13 things every new runner needs to know.
13 things I wish I was told before I started running
Don’t expect to love running straight away (in fact, don’t be surprised if you hate it)
Most (insert: normal) people don’t set off on their first run and love every aching minute. Your knees might hurt, your legs might rub together, and you might feel downright awkward. From my experience as a late bloomer to the sport, it takes time to join the rare breed of super humans that thrive off hitting the pavement. But persevere; you’ll get there. And when you do, you’ll love it. Running is addictive. (To speed up the process, read our 7 ways to make running less horrible.)
Start slow and don’t worry about your pace
When you first start running, it can be difficult to set a good pace. Perhaps you’ve played team sports and are used to sprinting for short bursts at a time. Endurance running is very different. Focus on your distance (or even just making half an hour) and as you get more comfortable, you’ll start to monitor your pace.
Set yourself a target so you have something to run towards
Aside from reaching the next tree (small wins, right?), it can help to have something to strive for. Sign up for a local fun run or even a half marathon. Not only will this help you get out of bed for your AM sweat session, it’ll allow you to create a training program and really track your progress.
Build distance gradually, don’t expect to run 10km if your PB is only three
Although we’re all for pushing yourself, don’t go too hard too quickly as this will increase your risk of injury. Follow a training program (I can’t stress this enough) and aim to increase your distance by approximately 2km per week. Also, always abide by the rule of rookie running: never focus on improving distance and speed at the same time.
No matter how cold it is, you will get hot
At 6am when it’s still dark and freezing, it can be tempting to put on three jumpers, gloves and extra thick tights. But one kilometre down and you’ll be drowning in fabric and sweat. Invest in a lightweight top that you can tie around your waist.
Not all sneakers are running shoes
As good as you look in your white leather sneakers, if you want to prevent injury, you need a shoe that was built to go the distance. Running shoes tend to be slightly more expensive than training shoes, but they’ll stop you from rolling your ankle or busting your knee, and forfeiting race day. So don’t be stingy, invest in a decent pair. (Read a running coach’s top tipsfor finding the right shoe).
The bounce is real
Ok, I’ll admit that I didn’t experience it myself, probably because I was in a super supportive sports bra (read: I have AA cup). But according to my breasted buddies, the bounce is real and it’ll last all 9, 21 or 42km. So get yourself a good sports bra (check out some of our favourites here.)
Scenic routes make running worthwhile
One of the best things about long distance runs is exploring your surroundings. Sydney is full of picturesque running routes, both along the coast, inland and even in the heart of the city. Have you ever run over the Harbour Bridge? It’s breathtaking, and a bucket list item for visitors and Sydney-siders alike. My personal favourites are the coastal tracks as you can throw your red face under the waves when you’re done.
No, it’s not hormonal, and you’re not just bored, you’re literally always hungry
Prepare to up your grocery bill because you’ll be eating as if you were expecting. Seriously, you’ll feel like your stomach is a bottomless pit. But embrace it; Make sure you’re fuelling your body with not only enough food, but also the right food. Think protein, good carbohydrates and health fats. Oh, and water, water, water.
No, you don’t sweat out all the water and yes, you may need to pee.
If the liquid has already made its way into the ureters, it’s game over so make sure you take a toilet break before setting off on a timed (or isolated) run.
Talking to yourself (and answering back) doesn’t mean you’re crazy
When it comes to long distance running, you’re going to really get to know yourself. Sometimes the voice inside your head can be motivating, and other times it can be detrimental: “this is hell, just stop, why are you doing this” – sound familiar? Try to master your mind, think positive thoughts and when you can, run in a group. Actually, try to run with a partner as much as possible; social is always better than solo.
Realise when you’re being pathetic and when you’re in trouble
No pain, no gain, right? Wrong. When it comes to running, pain in the back, ankles and knees can be an indication of the onset of injury. If you start to experience pain during a run, don’t push yourself. Generally you can tell the difference between fatigue and problematic (this is the workout pain you should never ignore). If it could be the latter, stop, have a rest day, and if the pain persists, consult a health practitioner.
If you want to take an energy gel in a race, test it first
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Energy gels can be rocket fuel on long distance runs. They replenish carbohydrate stores and prevent early fatigue. However, they affect everyone very differently and have been know to cause a laxative effect for some. So if you thought point 10 was bad, imagine this scenario.