Kelli shares a little about her journey into running and inspires us to give something that may be new, scary, or challenging a try!
At the beginning of 2014, when I discovered that I could barely run a half mile, I challenged myself to sign up for my first 5K ever. By the end of the year, I had run a 5K, an 8K, and a 15K, lost 40 pounds in the process, and had a lot of fun along the way! I love seeing those bib numbers, race shirts and medals, knowing I worked hard to earn every single one. Now I must think I’m some kind of runner, because for 2015 I challenged myself to sign up for a half marathon! (Eeeek!!) What I love about running is there is no excuse not to. It’s free and readily available all of the time – all you need is a pair of running shoes. (Okay, unless you’re like me and start stocking up on running watches, better headphones, stretching equipment, fancy-schmancy running shoes, etc.) It’s a great way to enjoy the weather, take in the scenery, explore some new places, and clear your head of any stress.
A friend from work told me she wanted to get into running and asked me to jot down some of my best tips. I hope this list helps all of you runners and wannabe runners. These are the discoveries I have made over the past year that have really helped me with my running. Enjoy!
Running is THE BEST full-body workout!
When I was training for my 15K last November, I never felt flatter! I feel like my love handles were going away, my stomach was tighter, of course your legs are looking good, and my arms and shoulders were getting tighter too – it’s really a full body workout. My favorite trainer also taught us that sprinting is the best way to a flat stomach, so incorporate some sprint intervals at the end of your runs as well. It not only helps your core, but your endurance, speed and stamina too!
Running is 90% mental and 10% physical.
Most everyone can run – it’s more a matter of ‘can I keep going?’ or ‘how far can I go?’ Sure, that first time I decided to run, I ran 0.5 miles… but then I was so eager to do better the next time and start getting 5K-ready, I pushed myself to run 1 full mile. A few months later, I was running 3-5 miles at a time! It’s much more of a mental game than a physical fete, so just tell yourself to ‘keep going’ and push your limits. It won’t take long to build up to longer distances.
Music is key!
Create a good playlist that works for you and keeps you motivated – whatever type of music that is. In the very beginning, I was running without any music. My mind was BLOWN when I started incorporating music. It completely changes everything – for the better! Each time a new song starts, I am re-energized to pick up the pace and keep on going.
Fast hands, fast feet.
The pace you move your arms is the pace your legs will follow. So especially when you’re coming up to a hill or feeling fatigued, pump those arms and I promise your legs will follow!
It’s important to keep your shoulders relaxed and try not to clench your fists. You’ll oftentimes find me running while (1) holding my index finger and thumbs lightly together (sometimes my pinky goes up like I’m fancy, drinking tea) or (2) with my thumb in between my index and middle finger. That way, if I start to clench, I will be squeezing my own thumb and realize I need to loosen up!
The first time I ran, I stopped after 0.5 mile because I was panting out of control and thought that meant I was maxed out. I allowed myself to stop because of my breathing, although my legs really could have kept going. To this day, I am still panting out of control within the first 1-2 miles, and I’m not sure that will ever change! Like I mentioned, running is a great workout… but with that, you are pushing your body and yes, you will breathe heavier. My body needs to acclimate, which means I need to push beyond that initial “shock” of going from standing to running and keep on going. I have found that it takes me about 3 miles to get my breathing under control. Once I get to that point, I can keep going and going and going – to a point where I’m in the groove, my legs keep going, and my breathing is calm and collected. That’s when you can start having more fun, clearing your head, enjoying the scenery and/or rocking out to your music!
Get a good pair of shoes.
I used to buy $40 shoes from the store – whichever was the cutest in the sale bin, typically – and then I would wonder why I always got shin splints. I went to a running store to be properly fitted for shoes. They measure your feet, analyze your feet, and watch you run on a treadmill. Then they assess the type of shoes you need and give you a few options to choose from. It was life changing! I got my first pair, and have since bought a 2nd and 3rd pair of the same shoe, newer model. If you find yourself getting aches and pains, it’s usually time for a new pair of shoes. They’re more in the neighborhood of $100-125, but worth every penny to avoid getting injured. The running part is free, so invest in a good pair of shoes to keep your feet safe and comfortable.
There’s an app for that!
I downloaded the Map My Run app on my phone, and have become a big fan! You tell it when you’re starting your workout and it tracks you via GPS so you know how far you go. I have it announce every ½ a mile how far I’ve gone and what my pace is. You can program what it tells you, how often it tells you, etc. The app even pipes your music in and pauses it while making announcements. It’s nice to be able to look back at your progress and see past times, distances, routes, etc. It’s got a social element too – you can connect with friends, see how they’re running, encourage them, and let them inspire you!
I go at least 1 minute per mile faster outside than I do on a treadmill. It’s great to get outside, enjoy some fresh air, take in the scenery, and see other runners and bikers ‘getting their fitness on’ too!
Stretch before and after!
Stretch, stretch, stretch, stretch, stretch. I can’t stress the importance! Running has your entire body involved so there’s a lot to warm up and cool down. Don’t just think about your feet and legs – remember to include your hips, arms, back, neck, and everywhere in between.
Don’t run every day.
In the beginning it’s excited to try new things and challenge yourself to go further. However, it’s important to incorporate other types of training in between running days, like strength training, yoga, and HIIT. All of these activities help contribute to your strength, endurance and flexibility, but also changes things up and keeps it interesting. You don’t want to get bored from running!
Sign up for a race!
New to running? Sign up for a 5K. Can you run 3 miles but haven’t gone further in a while? Sign up for an 8K, 10K, or 15K! Challenge yourself to run a little further than you think you can. I’ll bet you have some fun and impress yourself along the way! I find races to be very inspirational. Usually I am running alone and I know my own fitness story and how far I’ve come. But being surrounded by hundreds or thousands of other runners with the same goal is incredibly motivating. It reminds me that so many people have their own fitness journey as well, and we’re not in this alone. It’s really exciting and inspiring to be surrounded by those other runners; we motivate each other to keep on going!
Follow a training plan online.
I usually turn to halhigdon.com for training plans. For my first 5k, I used a “Couch to 5K” plan for beginners. It was very helpful to know what to do, how much I should be running, what other workouts are beneficial, and build up to the distance rather than feeling like you need to be there from the start. There’s a whole bunch of others available at sites such as c25k.com, fromcouchto5k.com, active.com, coolrunning.com, and the list goes on.
Running dates are the new dinner dates.
Grab a friend and go for a run. It’s a great way to do something active together, catch up and enjoy the scenery together. Then, grab a friend (or a team) and sign up for a race together! You’ll keep each other motivated, hold each other accountable, and have a lot of fun training together.
Thanks Kelli for an AWESOME post! Great story, great advice!
Your Trainer and Friend,
Cassie and Kelli