Monday, August 26, 2013

A (Wannabe) Runners Guide to Running

If you know anything about this blog, it's that I constantly say how hard it is to do things with a baby. And lemme tell you, training for a half marathon is no different.

The last time around (almost 2 years ago!) Randy and I trained pretty well. Considering, we really didn't know what the heck we were getting in to! We would run short distances regularly during the week and take our long runs on the weekend. Which again, worked well although the farthest distance we made it to was only 6 miles before doing the whole 13.1! I'm still kind of amazed that we actually finished it.

Now, it's a bit tougher (partly because I'm so. tired. all. the. dang. time. and running with a stroller/on Emily's schedule is not always easy) but we are truding along towards our goal of running another half in November.

It's taken me a while to get back into the swing of things, both mentally and physically. I realized the other day that I've actually learned a lot about myself and running in the past few years. And though I don't consider myself a runner, I've picked up a few things that I didn't know the first time around that I'd share with anyone starting out.

  • Get good shoes. I'm serious. Go get fitted at a running store (like our awesome Fleet Feet). They will analyze your stride and find the best pair of shoes for you. It's a bit of an investment but worth it.  
  • Then buy good clothes. No cotton. That includes good underwear and a bra. I personally love to run in fitted capris and a dry fit t-shirt (most of my stuff comes from TJ Maxx or Target). You don't want stuff that weighs you down and you certainly want something that will keep the sweat off of you.
  • Try all the fancy products and then use all, some or none on a regular basis. When Randy and I first started running, we tried it all: gel, energy packs, fitness belts, KT tape, compression stockings, iphone running arm band, you name it. Basically anything you could buy at an expo or running store, we owned it. Randy still uses some of those things but I've stopped using just about all. I've come to be more of a minimalist in my approach.  Find what products work/don't work for you.
  • Listen to your body. I found this one out the hard way. I injuried my hip flexor training the last time, went through PT for it and it started to flair up this time around. I've had to adjust my stride and not push myself when I know I'm at my limit. I've also cut back on listening to music (especially during the first couple of miles) so I can concentrate on how my body is feeling without being distracted my a fast song that makes me want to speed up (even though my body isn't warmed up and ready yet).
  • Accept that some days are just going to be better that others. Chalk it up to countless reasaons-the weather, stress, medication, too much wine the night before (who would do that?!)-some days you are not going to run your best. Just run what you can do and then stop. Try again tomorrow.
  • Encourage others. Running is hard. Running sucks at times. There are people that will fly past you when you are struggling just to get through the next couple of steps. Let them. Don't worry about it. But encourage others when you see them struggling. I love running races and hearing others cheer people on. We are all in this together and we will all (hopefully) make it to the finish line in our own time. 
Bottom line? Like most things in life, find out what works for you. The right shoes, clothes, products or "extras", running with or without music, running with others or by yourself.  It's a bit of trial and error and it takes time. So keep at it (advice I need to remember at times) and keep cheering others on along the way.

Happy running!

Update: R and I completed a 5 mile race on Monday, despite my struggle with a nasty head cold, and I'm proud to say that I pulled off one of my best paces! 12:57, baby! So don't give up, keep at it, and brag a little when you've accomplished something great. :)