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I have enjoyed running since I was a toddler, unfortunately for my parents. I am told I literally ran everywhere I went, with cartwheels intermittently thrown into my fast pace. One of the biggest reasons I like running is because I am pretty decent at it. I could not ever enjoy basketball or softball because I did not have the “umph” it took it make it in a sport like that. My skinny noodle-like arms would flail and falter. But running? I could hang with the best of them.
As much as I have always enjoyed running, I did not start seriously running on a regular basis until last year. My brother Ryan began running several months before I did. While he was blazing the trails, initially I decided I would begin steadily walking, just to be a bit healthier. But after watching my brother’s dedication and sheer enjoyment of the exercise, I decided I would give it a try.
I have now been running on a regular basis for over a year, but by no means do I consider myself a pro runner. In fact, I still think quite the opposite, though I enjoy learning about helpful running tips to continue to improve. I do, however, wish I had known several – in my opinion – necessities when I started to run regularly. My advice:
My fear when I began running was that I would get burned out, so to prevent this, I started small. But the point is, I started. I began by running one mile at a time. I did this for several weeks before I ever even increased to two miles. By the time I got to where I was able to run three miles, I felt like Queen of the Running World! A year later, I am still running, and I have yet to get tired of it. I have greatly increased my mileage on long distance run days as well. Yes of course there are days I do not want to run, but I always feel better after I do.
Set realistic goals but have high expectations
There is a very fine line between realistic goals with high expectations and out-of-reach goals that are too soon in coming. It is most definitely necessary to push yourself. Had I never increased my mileage to two miles I would still be running one mile runs, and I would be terribly bored. On the other hand, I did not decide after running one mile two or three times that it was time for a 10K. Had I done that, I would have hung my sneakers up for good because I would have been so discouraged! Set goals that are obtainable while pushing yourself at the same time.
Have a running partner
Ask any runner, and he or she will explain that having an accountability partner helps get them out and about, ready to run. There have been countless – maybe more than countless – days that had my brother not encouraged me by saying, “Come on! Let’s go!” I would have stayed inside. More often than not, he does not even have to say anything. If I know he is going, I feel compelled to go as well.
Needless to say, Ryan has gotten me to run many days that I would not have gone by myself. Afterwards, I am always happy to have gone for a run. I have never finished a run and thought, “Man! I wish I would have stayed inside.” Instead, I always feel accomplished, even if the run was short. Even if you do not have someone to run beside, having someone to simply text and know he or she is running as well will often do the trick.
Listen to your body
When runners get to the point they are hitting the pavement just about every day, listening to your body becomes absolutely crucial in order to help prevent injury. In addition, the more often you run, the more you become in tune with your body, knowing when your body needs rest – as long as you are listening. Unfortunately, after I had been running about four months, I ran myself right into a stress fracture.
I went out one Saturday morning for a five-mile run. Along the way, I noticed my ankle felt uncomfortable, almost as if my joint was catching something it was not supposed to. Rather than stop, I continued, assuming my ankle was simply tired. I also failed to think about the fact that I had woken myself up several nights before when the opposite leg hit my (unknown, at the time) injured ankle. Inevitably, I met with an orthopedic doctor, a foot/ankle specialist, went through numerous x-rays and an MRI, and then returned for follow-up visits. The worst part? I could not run for a good three months.
So take it from me, listen to when your body is telling you it needs rest.
Supplements and – I know, I know – eating healthy
Recently, I started researching supplements runners should consider taking. I gained valuable information from the LIVESTRONG Corporation. The partner of the Lance Armstrong Foundation states that Glucosamine and Chondroitin greatly help joint recovery, especially in knees. Distance runners are often in need of extra Glucosamine and Chondroitin because cartilage is worn away faster and more often than normal; the body cannot keep up with creating enough new cartilage, and it needs a little help. However, if you do not have joint pain, I would not take this supplement just to take something.
LIVESTRONG explains Omega 3 Fatty Acids help with joint pain and decrease inflammation. In other words, take fish oil and eat lots of fish. Multi-vitamins are helpful to body as a whole, and for women, calcium supplements are a good idea. I constantly fear that my stress fracture will return, as they are prone to do. So I take calcium supplements to strengthen my bones. Take calcium in the mornings, and drink lots of water after taking calcium. Calcium can build-up in kidneys and cause kidney stones, thus the water. I only take one calcium supplement a day – in the morning – though some directions/labels will say to take up to three. LIVESTRONG also encourages drinking milk and eating cheese to get calcium through natural foods.
Speaking of foods, I am the world’s worst – seriously, I have you beat – at wanting sugar. What does help stop me from eating sugar is the terrible run I know I will have after eating too much sugar. Well, that and the fact my brother stays on me about not eating so many sweets. As much as I do not care about talking about it, eating healthy and staying away from sugar do help you feel better when you run. (Then again, sometimes I feel that since I run, maybe my sugar count is cancelled out?)
Create a great music playlist that will keep you motivated and entertained during your run. Most importantly, RUN. You can do it! The hardest part is getting started. Do not worry too much when you begin about what you look like or who is watching.
I always admire anyone who runs! You got guts, kid.